Ryan Songalia

Nonito Donaire: ‘Manny Pacquiao beat Tim Bradley but was cautious’

Nonito Donaire Jr. has had his own struggles with boxing's Cold War that is preventing many of the biggest fights in the sport from coming to fruition. Earlier this decade, both Donaire Jr. and the then-unbeaten Abner Mares had talked up a fight that would've pitted the two fastest-rising fighters below the featherweight division.

Instead of the fight happening, Donaire lost to Guillermo Rigondeaux in early 2013 while Mares was shockingly knocked out in one round by Jhonny Gonzalez, erasing any talk or interest in the fight.

"I think there should be some kind of law that doesn't interfere with fighters fighting each other," muses Donaire Jr. (32-2, 21 knockouts), who is training in the Philippines for his May 31 showdown with WBA featherweight titleholder Simpiwe Vetyeka in Macau. "The thing about it is, it really comes down to Top Rank and the networks, because fighters will always fight."

Prior to a recent workout in Manila, the conversation switched to the sport's most infamous victim of inter-promotional politics – the failed Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. pairing.

When asked whether he thought the fight could still be salvaged, Donaire was blunt. "No, not happening. Maybe in a year or two when both…" said Donaire as he changed thought tracks. "It's really hard at this time because of promotional networks, fighters desiring more percentages, this and that. It's chaos."

Still, the 31-year-old native of Bohol, Philippines who now calls San Leandro, Calif. home was laudatory of Pacquiao's most recent performance – a unanimous verdict over Timothy Bradley to win the WBO welterweight title last month.

"He did well to execute and be victorious," said Donaire. "Of course I do see that he is not as fast or as strong, he's a bit cautious but he won convincingly and he did well in hurting Bradley and winning the fight. I think that if he devoted himself to boxing that his speed and power and everything else will come back."

Donaire credited Pacquiao, 35, of General Santos City with raising the profile of boxing in Asia, enabling Asian cities like Macau, where Donaire will fight next, to grow into boxing hotbeds.

"He's an amazing fighter," said Donaire. "One thing that I'm always thankful for is that he has opened the doors for a lot of Filipino fighters and Asian fighters. China they're coming up with great fighters. One thing about China is, they create fighters and as the time passes they'll create something better. That's something to look forward to as Chinese champions will rise in the future and more fights will be held in Asia. I'm willing to be a part of that."

Pacquiao has no opponent for his next fight, which is scheduled for later this year. Should Juan Manuel Marquez – who knocked Pacquiao out in six rounds in 2012 – get past Mike Alvarado later this month, a fifth clash with Pacquiao could be in store. Donaire feels Pacquiao has a strong shot of turning the tables should they meet again.

"I think so because Marquez was almost going down in that fight. That's the thing that people forget and the only thing that people remember is that Marquez took him down. But before that Marquez was almost done," said Donaire.

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