By Ryan Maquiñana
In an interview with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area at the Undisputed Gym in San Carlos, Calif., unified bantamweight champion Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire was asked about the landscape at 122 and 126 pounds amid his Feb. 4 debut at junior featherweight against Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. for the vacant WBO title.
“I want to stay at ’22,” Donaire told CSNBayArea.com after his public workout. “I want to be able to take over the weight like I’ve always tried to take over each weight. I want to be undisputed, like this gym.”
Donaire then commented on his final fight at the 118-pound limit against junior bantamweight titlist Omar Narvaez, a lackluster affair at New York City’s Madison Square Garden Theater last October that was marked by the Argentine challenger’s reluctance to open up his offense.
“From this point on, it’s pretty much what the fans want,” Donaire said. “I want a fight that the fans are excited to see. I felt bad for the last fight. I don’t want that because they gave me a lot of support.
“A lot of people showed up, and I felt bad for the fans because as much as I tried to do whatever I can, the guy never gave it up. I’m afraid that fighting guys like that will destroy boxing. It will just ruin the fans, and just ruin my credibility.”
Three names that have surfaced at junior featherweight should he get by Vazquez are Mexico’s Jorge Arce, WBC holder Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan, and newly minted WBA boss Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba, who went as far as to call out Donaire in his postfight press conference following his drubbing of Rico Ramos last Friday.
“I want to fight the guys who are willing to fight, like Vazquez, Arce, [and] Nishioka,” Donaire said. “Rigondeaux, on the other hand, is a good fighter and all, and I congratulate him for it, but is it good for the fans? Is it good for boxing? Or, if I hurt him, is he going to do a Narvaez and just run around like he did in two fights ago or a fight ago when he fought on HBO? I don’t want that.”
In November of 2010, Rigondeaux defeated Ricardo Cordoba for the interim WBA 122-pound belt in one of the most action-deprived fights to ever air on HBO Pay-Per-View.
Still, the two-time Olympic gold medalist is a brilliant counterpuncher capable of offensive firepower at times; it is this inconsistency, however, that has turned Donaire off about the matchup.
“And as much as people say, ‘Oh, you’re running away,’ if I’m running away, [and] if you want a Cuban that wants to fight me, then let’s have [Yuriorkis] Gamboa,” Donaire said. “I think that’s an interesting fight. Don’t give me something that’s going to be boring for boxing. If you want a good fight, let’s get Gamboa, you know what I’m saying?”
Of course, the task at hand is Vazquez, and there is no Gamboa bout—much less Gamboa speculation—if the “Filipino Flash” comes up short on Feb. 4 in San Antonio.
“But this time, we want nice fights at ‘22s, and we want to make it happen,” Donaire said. “And If I can handle ‘22s, let’s make ‘26. I don’t run from people. That’s the thing. I don’t run from people. Give me a good fight. If they’re better, they’re better, but at least I’m going to do my best.”
Ryan Maquiñana has a weekly column for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (CSNBayArea.com). He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at www.maqdown.com, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.