WBC and WBO bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire is promoted by Top Rank Inc. and fights on HBO, while IBF beltholder Abner Mares is with Golden Boy Promotions and has fought all of his significant bouts on Showtime.
But Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer likes the Donaire-Mares fight, and believes that something can be worked out to bring the two, young gladiators together.
Schaefer's counterpart, Bob Arum, of Top Rank, agrees.
Arum said that Donaire would gladly face Mares "In a heartbeat," and, "without any question," but only if Mares emerged victorious from a rematch of Saturday night's controversial Showtime-televised majority decision that dethroned Joseph Agbeko.
Promoter Don King plans to appeal to the IBF for an immediate return bout with Mares on his assertion that referee Russell Mora allowed Mares to land an excessive number of low blows against Agbeko in the title bout of the Showtime network's four-man bantamweight tournament.
Replays appear to show that an extremely hard punch by Mares landing squarely on Agbeko's crotch, leading to the 11th-round knockdown of Agbeko after Mora had ruled that the blow was legal.
That resulted in Mares' winning the round, 10-8. Judges Adalaide Byrd and Oren Shellenberger scored the fight for Mares, 115-111, with C.J. Ross having it even at 113-113.
"As far as Mares is concerned, my feeling is that what Mares should do is to give this guy a rematch," Arum. "I think that the IBF is going to order a rematch because that was not good. Particularly that knockdown in the 11th round, which was clearly a blow on the cup. I mean, what was that? The referee was standing right in front of it."
"Nonito Donaire would be pleased to fight the winner of the rematch in a heartbeat, without any question. We'll fight the winner of the rematch between Mares-Agbeko. But to go in and to have Donaire fight Mares now, when he clearly had a questionable victory, that wouldn't make much sense."
Donaire (26-1, 18 knockouts), No. 3 on THE RING’s pound-for-pound list, will return to the ring against an opponent to be determined on Oct. 22 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on HBO.
Donaire last fought on Feb. 19 in Las Vegas, scoring a second-round knockout of Fernando Montiel.
The win over Montiel was Donaire's 25th consecutive win and his 10th KO in his past 12 fights. Mares (22-0-1, 13 KOs) is a rising star who has fought three, tough bouts in a row.
Mares battled to a draw with then-unbeaten IBF titleholder Yonnhy Perez in fight that many believed Mares won in May of last year.
Mares followed that up by dethroning titleholder Vic Darchinyan by split-decision, emerging victorious from a clash that featured a knockdown by each fighter.
Against Darchinyan, Mares demonstrated his resiliency by overcoming bleeding over the left side of his forehead from a first-round clash of heads, as well as by rising from a knockdown after a hard, straight left hand in the second-round.
In the end, Mares' face was a battered mask of crimson, but he was unbowed as he persevered to defeat Darchinyan, 115-111 and 115-112 on two cards, with the third having it for Darchinyan, 115-111.
"Showtime has put a lot of money and effort into the bantamweights, and the bantamweight tournament. And Showtime is going to be involved in the future with Abner Mares as well," said Schaefer.
"So Abner Mares has some contractual obligations with Showtime and Showtime has been very, very good to Abner. I certainly want to honor those commitments, but I know that Showtime would be interested in a Mares-Donaire fight. If Nonito would entertain taking a fight with Abner Mares on Showtime, I would certainly be open to that."
Like Schaefer, Arum believes that a fight between Donaire and Mares can be made, but that the networks would have to make it happen.
"Let me tell you something, if that is worked out, then that is worked out, but it has to be something that is agreed upon between the two networks. With Nonito Donaire, we have a contract with HBO, and they have his next fight, and that's going to be in October," Arum said. "As far as fighting the two of them together, I would love nothing more. But that has to be worked out between Showtime and HBO, and that is something that has certainly happened in the past."
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org