NEW YORK — It started out as just another post-fight Q&A.
WBO/WBC bantamweight beltholder Nonito Donaire had just won every round on the way to Saturday night’s unanimous decision over WBO junior bantamweight titleholder Omar Narvaez, improving his record to 27-1 with 18 knockouts, and dropping the Argentine’s mark to 35-1-2 with 19 knockouts before 4,425 at the WaMu Theater inside Madison Square Garden.
Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum was asked during a post-fight interview discussion with the media what was next for the 28-year-old Donaire, THE RING’s No. 4-rated pound-for-pound fighter and its No. 1-rated bantamweight.
Arum had mentioned potential matchups with WBO junior featherweight beltholder Jorge Arce (58-6-1, 44 KOs) of Mexico and WBC super bantamweight titleholder Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KOs) of Japan.
Which one comes first?
Well, it was apparent that Arum and Donaire differed slightly about that when Donaire grabbed a Top Rank Inc. microphone and began interviewing Arum about the subject.
Here is how that went.
Reporter to Arum: So what is next for Nonito Donaire?
Arum: Well, first of all, we want to get Nonito back into the ring as soon as possible. The only way we would wait like another month would be until March is if we got Nishioka. When I talked to [Nishioka's promoter] Honda after his last fight, he said that he would want to wait until May.
But I think that I’m going to call Honda up on Monday and offer him a little more money, and see if he can make it in March. If he can’t make it in March, then we’ll fight somebody else in February.
(Enter Donaire, with a microphone in his left hand, and his right arm around Arum.)
Donaire: Now Bob, now Bob. Knowing that this is Nonito’s last fight at 118, we want the fight, and the crowds want the fight, so what if he said that a good action fight would be against Jorge Arce? What would you say about Jorge Arce and Nonito Donaire coming up in February or even in March?
Arum: Well, somehow Nonito, you’ve read my mind. Because if we can’t get Nishioka. I’ve been saving Arce for June, because Filipinos want Nonito to open up their new arena in Manila, and they want him to fight a Mexican.
And he wants to fight Arce. But if that can’t happen, we’ll put Arce in February, and then, later on in June, we’ll do Nishioka.
Donaire: Well, Bob, you know that Nonito Donaire likes to fight as often as possible, so how many fights will he be able to get next year if everything goes well?
Arum: A minimum of four fights in 2012. All of this bulls–t of fighters waiting to fight twice a year because they get dates for a premium network is out the window. A young man like Nonito Donaire who will be the emerging super star in boxing will fight at least four times next year.
Donaire: Well there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, four or five times a year for Nonito Donaire. Can they make it happen? Find out on the next year to come. Nonito Donaire and Top Rank will be working together in the future.
Arum: This young man did everything tonight except bring his camera to take a picture.
MIKE JONES A POTENTIAL MANNY PACQUIAO RIVAL
A press conference was held at The Garden hours before the Donaire-Narvaez festivities began, and it featured several of the fighters who will be involved in the undercard for the HBO Pay Per View televised rematch between WBA junior middleweight titleholder Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito on Dec. 3 also at The Garden.
Arum stood at the podium and declared Jones a candidate to face eight-division titleholder Manny Pacquiao should Jones get beyond Argentina’s Sebastian Lujan on Dec. 3, and Pacquiao get past a defense of his WBO welterweight belt against Juan Manuel Marquez on Nov. 12.
Jones-Lujan is an IBF title eliminator for the right to challenge IBF welterweight beltholder Andre Berto.
“There are some guys there who we could match Pacquiao with. There’s Timothy Bradley, who is on the card there on Nov. 12, and also, there are welterweights out there. Now Mike Jones and Sebastian Lujan are going to be fighting here at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 3 for the No. 1 mandatory position against Berto,” said Arum.
“And the winner of the fight will get to meet Berto down the road, or if that doesn’t come about for any reason, will be ready to meet Manny Pacquiao down the road. But this fight is a very, very important fight for Mike Jones.”
Jones is coming off a second-round knockout of Raul Munoz, which was accomplished in June before his hometown fans at the South Philly Arena.
Prior to that, Jones battled through consecutive majority, and, unanimous decisions over Jesus Soto Karass in February and June.
Jones is ranked first by the WBO, second by the WBA, third by the IBF and fourth by the WBC, whose respective titleholders are Pacquiao, Vyacheslav Senchenko, Berto and Floyd Mayweather Jr., respectively.
ANDRE BERTO WAS IN THE HOUSE
Berto (28-1, 22 KOs) was at ringside for Saturday night’s Donaire-Narvaez fight, having earned the IBF title last month with a fifth-round stoppage of Jan Zaveck (31-2, 18 KOs), who was knocked out for the first time in his career.
The victory helped Berto to rebound from a unanimous decision loss of his WBC title to Victor Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) in April, even as Ortiz himself lost the belt by a fourth-round knockout at the hands of Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs).
Berto is now in line to make a mandatory defense of his IBF belt opposite hard-punching former junior welterweight beltholder Randall Bailey (42-7, 36 KOs).
Berto said that he is in negotiations, but did not specify for which fight.
He did make it clear, however, who he wants to fight.
“I heard about [the IBF eliminator with Jones and Lujan,] but I’m out here just relaxing right now. But whatever the team lines up for me, I’m ready to go. Whatever their next choice is, let’s get it done,” said Berto.
“But I’m not sure who we’re going to fight next. We’re negotiating right now. Hopefully it’s Ortiz. Hopefully we can get Ortiz back in there. Hopefully.”
Wedding bells– The Donaires will hold a traditional wedding in Manila, Philippines on November 11 “to my beautiful wife, Rachel Donaire,” said Nonito Donaire…Best quote: “We should have gotten a statue from Central Park. That would have made for a more competitive fight.”– Rachel Donaire, on the inactivity of Narvaez in the fight.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org