By Chris Robinson
The sport of boxing just didn’t seem the same with Nonito Donaire sitting on the sidelines.
Coming off of a stirring victory over Fernando Montiel this past February inside the Mandalay Bay, Donaire saw his career come to a lull after a legal dispute between promoters Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions over his services. Donaire felt a move to Golden Boy would bolster his career but promoter Bob Arum took the matter to court, where it was ruled that Top Rank’s current contract was still binding, thus preventing Golden Boy from doing any business with the 28-year old star.
Donaire sat idle for months as speculation ran rampant as to how everything would play out but recently my colleague Dennis Guillermo broke the news that the reigning WBC and WBO bantamweight champion has indeed rejoined with Top Rank and will be looking to restart his career as soon as possible. Leaving the past in the past, Donaire is once again chomping at the bit to get back into the mix.
“I’m very eager to be back in the ring,” Donaire told me moments ago. “I don’t have a fight but I would still train. The last fight was an incredible fight and we just want to keep getting better and better anytime. I’m really eager to get in there and get better every time.”
Since Donaire’s dethroning of Montiel a lot has happened in the sport, such as Saul Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. becoming champions and Floyd Mayweather Jr. announcing his comeback, yet the talk on Donaire never died. With no fights lined up for a matter of months he spent some time on vacation, explored his newfound passion for photography, and got to see the sport from a different perspective.
“It’s always difficult because I would train for a day or two or three and then I wouldn’t come back for another two weeks or three weeks. There was nothing scheduled so I kept myself busy with a lot of things. I trained to maintain my weight and [my wife] Rachel was always there to help me. I just tried to support her the way that she supported me.” Donaire continued.
Being the fighter he is, it was only natural for Donaire to stay close to the scene and I pleasantly surprised when I ran into him at the H.I.T. Factory Gym right off of the strip last month as he showed support for his new buddy, Zab Judah. Judah, the IBF junior welte[rweight champion of the world, is prepping for a date against fellow champion Amir Khan this coming weekend and Donaire insists that being a part of his camp helped to keep his juices flowing.
“Just helping out with Zab, I ended up training myself. It’s good, it’s really different. They work pretty hard and just being around that is great. It’s walking distance from my spot, I’m right by there. And if I’m not doing anything I am there every day. It’s just good to be around boxing, especially a world champion.” Donaire stated.
Camaraderie in the Vegas Valley is always welcome but when it comes time for Donaire to get down to work expect him to head back north to the Bay Area and his home away from home at the Undisputed Boxing Gym in San Carlos, California.
“I always go back to Undisputed because that’s where all my people are. My energy guy, my strength guy Michael Bazzel, my nutritionist Victor Conte, all these guys are there. The facility is there for me, it’s open there and I am most likely going to go there.”
And for boxing fans around the globe, this couldn't have come any sooner.