By Jake Donovan
Despite rumors of a junior featherweight clash between Nonito Donaire and Hugo Ruiz heading to Macau on July 18, such a fight has only just officially entered negotiating stages. The bout has been ordered by the World Boxing Council (WBC), likely destined for a May 22 purse bid hearing to determine where it will land in the event that it takes place.
“We made an offer to Top Rank (earlier this week),” confirmed Oswaldo Kuchle of Promociones del Pueblo, Ruiz’ promoter. “We are negotiating, but in the event no deal is reached, we will proceed to the purse bid and see what happens.”
Donaire – the former World junior featherweight king and also a previous titlist at flyweight, bantamweight and featherweight – recently returned to the 122 lb. division earlier this year. The 32-year old ex-champ felt the drop in weight was a necessity after feeling out of his element at featherweight, where a title reign ended with a vicious knockout loss to Nicholas Walters last October.
His return to junior featherweight came in March, scoring a two-round knockout of overmatched William Prado. The win had less to do with his immediate insertion near the top of the 122 lb. rankings than did his past reputation and promotional affiliation. Donaire was all but assured that he would be in line for a title shot or eliminator before year’s end.
Similar promises were made to Ruiz (35-2, 31KOs) – a former bantamweight contender who is riding a four-fight win streak. His past two bouts have taken place at 122 lbs., where he has been on the hunt for a shot at reigning unbeaten titlist Leo Santa Cruz.
Ruiz’ handlers have already lobbied the WBC for a title shot. Ideally they’d like to face Santa Cruz, but the Al Haymon-advised titlists remains cryptic on his future plans. He recently ventured into the featherweight division, scoring a 10-round decision over Jose Cayetano earlier this month. Preliminary whispers have Santa Cruz possibly facing Abner Mares, a former three-division champ and current top featherweight contender.
At some point, the defending titlist will have to s(p)it or get off the pot. Either way, Ruiz likes his chances at a big fight for his next ring appearance.
“Hugo is patient,” Kuchle insists. “He knows he will receive his opportunity. Our main goal is winning the green belt (WBC title). Perhaps Leo moves up for good and we get Nonito for the vacant title.
“In the event Nonito or Top Rank decides on other plans, we can look into Rey Vargas (ranked number four by the WBC) entering the picture. It will be interesting to see how things move along.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox