LAS VEGAS — Nonito Donaire was prepared for the media’s questions in the wake of Andre Berto’s positive drug test last month for the banned substance norandrosterone, which forced him out of the June 23 rematch with Victor Ortiz.
Donaire was among the first boxers to work with Conte, who once served a prison stint for his work with illegal performance-enhancing drugs, building a four-year career out of helping professional athletes circumvent Olympic-style drug testing policies until BALCO was raided in 2003.
But since exiting prison, Conte has busied himself with Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning (SNAC), an organization that supplies legal sports nutrition products and supplements.
During a dinner Thursday evening media dinner at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas sponsored by his promoter, Top Rank, Donaire addressed his relationship with Conte.
“With Victor, we have a great relationship with Victor Conte. I trust the man, he trusts me. We’ve got a relationship where our chemistry has been tremendous. I know that a lot of people were saying, ‘you’re dealing with the Devil,’ and this and that,” said Donaire.
“But I guess that I’m always finding the goodness in people when others can’t find it. Like I have said, I’ve always been open to testing, and I want to represent the testing and represent boxing in a cleaner way and with a cleaner outlook, and that’s the reason that I’m working with Victor.”
Both Berto and Ortiz had agreed to random drug testing of blood and urine by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA), a move Donaire supports.
“As soon as (Berto tested positive), Victor and I, we figured that there was going to be a lot of people who were going to ask me about it, and, you know, there was,” said Donaire. “And I said the same thing that I’ve always said: I’m open to the testing.”
Donaire (28-1, 18 KOs) said that he is aware that becoming a four-division titlewinner with his split-decision victory over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in February led to speculation that he might be using performance enhancing drugs.
“I know that there are people who are doubting me because I’m beating all of thes guys, and it’s unfortuate. But we have to address the fact that a lot of guys in this sport and in every sport are doing something that’s enhancing their optimal abilities,” said Donaire.
“But Victor’s a very intelligent man, and that’s something that intrigues him is cleaning up the sport. He’s teaching everyone out there how to catch people, and teaching everyone out there how to know what these people can do if they’re on it. I always work hard, so it doesn’t really matter to me.”
Donaire said he is ready for any opponent, clean or not.
“For me, it’s more like this. I’m looking forward to me. I wouldn’t even mind finding somebody who tests positive and prove that my ability is better in a natural way — regardless if he’s on it — and that I can still beat him,” said Donaire.
“That’s the mentality that I have, you know? I think that I can beat anybody out there, regardless of whether they’re on something or not. Something that doubles their strength and doubles their speed. I think that with my intelligence and my work ethic, I can beat anybody out there.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR DONAIRE?
Should Donaire, the WBO junior featherweight titleholder, get beyond a July 7 unification fight with IBF beltholder Jeffrey Mathebula (26-3-2, 14KOs), Jorge Arce (60-6-2, 46 KOs) and Guillermo Rigondeaux (9-0, 7 KOs) could be future opponents.
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said that Arce is the likely opponent for Donaire in the fall, assuming Arce gets beyond Saturday night’s non-title fight against Jesus Rojas (18-1-1, 13 KOs) on the Pacquiao-Bradley undercard.
The winner of Donaire-Arce, said Arum, could face Rigondeaux following a potential bout between Rigondeaux and Vazquez.
Another potential opponent is WBC junior featherweight tileholder Abner Mares (23-0-1, 13 KOs), who won the belt vacated by Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KOs) with a decision over Eric Morel in April.
But could a unification bout be made featuring Mares, who is handled by rival promoter Golden Boy Promotions, and Donaire? Arum and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told RingTV.com that it could.
“That’s the difficulty about it, with the conflicting promoters. There’s a possiblity. I know that these guys can make it happen, as long as they play nice and fair,” said Donaire. “Whoever is willing to negotiate the fight on easy terms, that’s who I think I want to face.”
Nishioka is expected to be ringside for Donaire-Mathebula.
“I think that the best guy in this division that I want to prove myself against is Nishioka,” said Donaire. “I think that Nishioka is the better of all of the guys. He’s proven himself in this weight class to be the real champion.”
ORTIZ TO BE PROFILED ON SHOWTIME
Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) will be profiled on the first installment of Showtime’s All Access: Victor Ortiz on June 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT in advance of his clash with Josesito Lopez on June 23 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The 30-minute segment replaces Showtime’s Fight Camp 360, and will re-air multiple times on CBS Sports Network, Showtime and Showtime Extreme. It will also be available On Demand.
“The tumultuous events of the last year of Victor’s career have been documented, but never before from an intimate, first-person perspective,” said Showtime’s president of sports programming, Stephen Espinoza.
“All Access will reveal Victor Ortiz as a person, living in the real world with some of the same challenges that we all face in life, and some of the challenges reserved only for his profession.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org