Nonito Donaire’s first fight at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night will likely be his last as a 118-pounder, the 28-year-old bantamweight titleholder told members of the media during a national conference call last week.
Known to walk around at weights above 140 pounds when not in training, Donaire (26-1, 18 KOs) is coming off a second-round knockout of former titleholder Fernando Montiel, in what was only his second bout since rising from the lower weight divisions. Donaire debuted as a bantamweight with a a fourth-round knockout of Wladimir Sidorenko.in December of last year.
Despite the success he’s had at 118 pounds, though, his stay in the division might be a short one.
“The last two fights that I had with Sidiorenko and Montiel, it wasn’t easy to make 118,” said Donaire, who will pursue his 26th straight victory when he defends his WBC and WBO belts against WBO 115-pound titleholder Omar Narvaez (35-0, 23 KOs) in a bout to be televised on HBO.
“I just believe that with my work ethic, that I’ve increased my muscle mass from the Montiel fight, and from the previous fight. So as you know, muscle is more difficult to shed off than it is to shed off fat. We definitely want to be healthy and at our best.”
If victorious against Narvaez, Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum has mentioned future bouts between Donaire and 122-pound beltholders Jorge Arce and Toshiaki Nishioka or even unbeaten featherweight standout Yuriorkis Gamboa.
“I think that going to 122 pounds is something that we’re looking forward to. There are a lot of good fighters there that Top Rank has at 122 pounds that we’re looking to face. That can be exciting. I’m looking forward to it, but not looking past Narvarez.”
ABNER MARES-JOSEPH AGBEKO II HEATS UP
Donaire also has mentioned potential bouts with the winner of an IBF-ordered bantamweight rematch between Abner Mares (22-0-1, 13 KOs) and Joseph Agbeko (28-3, 22 KOs) that is slated for Dec. 3 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The return bout was ordered in the wake of referee Russell Mora’s failure to penalize Mares for repeated low blows in their fight Aug. 13 on Showtime, during which Agbeko lost his title by unanimous decision.
There was an 11th-round knockdown punch that Mora ruled legal even though replays clearly showed the punch by Mares landed on Agbeko’s cup.
During a recent press conference at ESPN Zone at L.A. Live, across the street from Staples Center in Los Angeles, Mares said that he’s ready to clear the air with a decisive victory.
“I’m really happy and ready to fight on Dec. 3. Right after the first fight, I was asked if I had a problem with a rematch — I said no. I want to fight him again because he deserves it. He’s a great champion,” said Mares.
“If this is what the people want, we’ll give it to them. I’m going to prove why I’m the champion come Dec. 3. I’m going to go for a knockout. Last time I prepared for 12 rounds, but this time I have something to prove. I want to prove that I am the champion. I want to knock him out.”
Agbeko is looking forward to the return bout.
“I didn’t want to retaliate with low blows. After every round I came back to my corner and they told me to keep going after him and protect myself. They just kept telling me to do what we trained to do and not to change. I am not looking for the knockout on Dec. 3.,” said Agbeko.
“I’m looking forward to a war. There will be no more low blows this time because the world is watching. I will prove to the world that I deserved to win the last fight and I will be victorious on Dec. 3. Do I still have respect for Abner Mares? Yes. At the end of the day we are both warriors and we do our job.”
A clash of unbeaten super middleweights will feature Edwin “La Bomba” Rodrigues (19-0, 14 KOs) of Worcester, Mass., against Will “Power” Rosinsky (14-0, 8 KOs) of Ozone Park, N.Y., in the 10-round main event of ShoBox: The New Generation on Friday night from the Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Conn.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com