Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum said that he won’t discuss a potential clash between RING, IBF and WBO junior featherweight champion Nonito Donaire and WBC counterpart Abner Mares until after Donaire gets beyond an HBO-televised Dec. 15 clash with four-division title-winner Jorge Arce.
“After the Arce fight, we’ll entertain that possibility,” said Arum, who promotes Donaire. “But we’re not going to address it before.”
Arum made his comments in the wake of Saturday night’s Showtime-televised performance by Mares (25-0, 13 knockouts), who called out Donaire (30-1, 19 KOs) after having out-gunned rising WBA bantamweight titleholder Anselmo Moreno.
Ranked No. 10 by THE RING, pound-for-pound, Moreno (33-2-1, 12 KOs) was dropped during the fifth round by Mares, whose victory ended Moreno’s 27-bout winning streak that had included 10 knockouts.
Moreno’s only previous loss, by four-round split-decision to Ricardo Molina in October of 2002, had been twice avenged via ninth-round stoppage and 10-round unanimous decision in January and August of 2005.
“I want Donaire next. I want to keep fighting the best out there. On our side, we’re willing,” said Mares, whose promoter is Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya, Arum’s fierce rival.
“Oscar De La Hoya said he’ll walk to Las Vegas and knock on Bob Arum’s door to get the fight made. I’ll go myself and knock on Arum’s door for the sake of boxing and the boxing fans. That’s the only fight for me.”
In the past, both Arum and Golden Boy CEO, Richard Schaefer, indicated that Donaire-Mares can happen with the right financial support from the networks.
Mares’ manager, Frank Espinoza, agrees with their assertion.
“The networks that are paying these licensing fees to the promoters, they have to put pressure on the promoters to make the fights that the fans all want to see,” said Espinoza.
“I’ve always said that I believe that the promoters have to be able to work together to make this fight, but I also believe that fans have to push for it, and that the media has to put pressure on the promoters also.”
Donaire’s manager, Cameron Dunkin, has expressed similar interest in the bout.
“I’ve talked to Frank Espinoza. I’ve talked to [Top Rank President] Todd [duboef] about it and Bob about it, and they said that they really want to do this fight. I said that we’ll get with Frank. Frank’s already talking about it,” said Dunkin.
“We’re game for it, but these guys have got to work out their differences. It’s up to the promoters. It’s definitely a fight that Nonito wants, and it’s definitely a fight that I want, and that they [fans] want, but the question is ‘can it be worked out?’ I don’t know.”
For now, Arum is focused on Donaire-Arce, the main event to a co-feature between WBA 122-pound beltholder Guillermo Rigondeaux and Thailand’s former titleholder Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym that is set for the Toyota Center in Houston.
“This whole thing is silly. You wait until the fighter is free, and is looking for an opponent, and then, you say what you have to say,” said Arum, who has characterized Mares as being on “a waiting list” to face Donaire.
“If Mares wants to fight Donaire, that’s the time for him to make statements, and for us to talk, and for us to see what the terms are going to be, etc. So, obviously, he’s under contract with Golden Boy, and it’ll be ‘how much is Golden Boy going to want, and how much is Mares going to want?’ Those are the only issues.”
Schaefer told RingTV.com’s Mike Rosenthal on Saturday that “having a dialogue is the main thing,” adding, “I don’t think negotiating through the press is the way to go, but we’re prepared to go that route too. The fact is we want to get it done.”
Schaefer elaborated during an interview with RingTV..com on Sunday.
“I think that what has to be done is the other side has to realize that that’s the fight that they want to do,” said Schaefer, “and not to be making comments about having to see what happens when Abner Mares’ contract is up. These are comments that are not conducive to getting a fight done.”
Ranked No. 5 in THE RING’s pound-for-pound ratings, Donaire turns 30 on Nov. 16 just 12 days before the 27th birthday of Mares, who has fought 72 straight championship rounds over six consecutive title bouts, going 5-0-1 during that time.
Over a more than a 20-month span as a bantamweight through December of last year, Mares twice defeated ex-beltholder Joseph Agbeko, earned a decision over former titleholder Vic Darchinyan and battled to a draw with then-beltholder Yonnhy Perez.
After defeating Agbeko by consecutive majority and unanimous decision, the latter being in December of last year, Mares rose to 122 pounds for a unanimous decision over ex-beltholder Eric Morel in April to earn the WBC’s belt that had been vacated by Japan’s Toshiaki Nishioka.
“What is there left for him to do in this division, other than, obviously, to fight Donaire? I think that he feels very strongly about it, and that he should feel very strongly about it,” said Schaefer.
“Abner Mares continues to want to challenge himself, and, obviously, the right challenge and the right fight right now would be the Donaire fight.”
Like Mares, Donaire rose from the bantamweight ranks to earn a split-decision over ex-beltholder Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. for the WBO’s vacant belt in February.
After vanquishing Vazquez for his third crown over as many weight divisions, Donaire unanimously decisioned South Africa’s Jeffrey Mathebula for the IBF title as well in July.
Donaire had packed devastating power as a 118-pounder, highlighted by a second-round knockout that dethroned Fernando Montiel as WBO and WBC titleholder in February of last year.
The win over Montiel was the second for Donaire as a bantamweight, following a fourth-round knockout of Volodymyr Sydorenko in December of 2010. Sydorenko’s nose was broken during a bout in which he was dropped once each in the first, third and fourth rounds.
But Donaire was frustrated by a defensive-minded Omar Narvaez in his final bout in defense of his WBC and WBO 118-pound titles, even as he won a unanimous decision over a previously unbeaten WBO junior bantamweight beltholder in October of last year.
The power appeared to have returned for Donaire last month, when he scored two knockdowns during a ninth-round stoppage of Nishioka that ended a 16-bout winning streak which spanned eight years and seven months and included 10 knockouts.
“I think that Donaire is a great fighter, and I don’t think that you can take anything away from him. But if you look at the quality of opponents that Mares has fought, and where they stood at the time that he fought them, they were either champions or very much at the top of their divisions at that time in their careers. Most of the time, Mares went into those fights perceived by the media and the experts as the underdog. And yet, every single time, he came through,” said Schaefer.
“What that shows you is, again, comparing that to Donaire, and Donaire’s opponents, I mean, you look at the Arce fight, and if you asked 10 people who is going to win that fight, you’re probably going to have 10 answering, ‘Donaire.’ So that shows you the strength of the opposition that Mares has faced. I think that it’s unlike anyone else, regardless of the division. I think, therefore, he should be ranked beside, and, in my opinion, higher than Donaire in the pound-for-pound lists.”
Donaire has said that he has no problem with a Mares fight, at one point, calling it, “a good possibility.”
“We have a lot of guys. There’s Guillermo Rigondeaux or Abner Mares even. They’re the guys who hold the belts. My longtime dream has been to become the undisputed champion. So if everything goes well with Mathebula, then we can go and get the WBA or the WBC belt…With Mares or whoever has the belt and is willing to negotiate the fight, that’s who I want to fight. I think that a Mares fight is a good possibility,” said Donaire, during an interview with RingTV.com in June.
“I’ve told my manager, Cameron Dunkin, that we want to fight all of those guys. I want to be undisputed. I’m fighting for the IBF belt, and then I want to fight another champion. So if those guys want to fight me, then, please, just hold on to your belts, because I want to come after them. Whoever can make it an easy negotiation, that’s who I will fight. If Mares makes it a difficult negotiation, then I’ll go with Rigondeaux. If Rigondeaux makes it hard for me, then I’ll go with Mares.”
Next up, for now, is Arce, 33, who is coming off September’s unanimous decision over Mauricio Martinez that was contested in the featherweight division.
Arce is to be taken seriously, owing to his 12th-round knockout that dethroned Vazquez as WBO 122-pound beltholder in May of last year.
Should he get beyond Arce, however, Espinoza hopes that Mares is next for Donaire.
“Abner has nothing more to prove. I mean, he’s fought the best. Now it’s time for Nonito Donaire. This is a fight that the fans want, and this is a fight that everybody wants,” said Espinoza.
“Donaire is the best out there right now, and there’s no other fight that we’re looking at, or that we want. The only one that we’re considering right now is Nonito Donaire. Abner’s earned the right to fight Donaire.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com