Nonito Donaire Jr.
Donaire title bid awaits go-signal
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — There won’t be an interim fight for Nonito Donaire Jr. even as it’s still uncertain when he’ll tangle with WBC bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali of France but Ringstar Sports CEO Richard Schaefer said yesterday he expects the much-awaited duel to finally happen in late September or October.

“It’s still a go and we don’t want to take any tune-up,” said Schaefer, a former Swiss banker who used to work with Oscar de la Hoya as Golden Boy CEO. “We’ll wait until the corona situation (ends), particularly the travel from Europe is open again. Of course, anything can change since we seem to experience in the US a very strong second wave of the virus.”

Schaefer said the Oubaali-Donaire battle will be “epic” and predicted a win by the Filipino Flash who’s coming off a loss on points to unbeaten Japanese Naoya Inoue last November. “In this weight class, Nonito is King,” said Schaefer who represents Donaire. “He is very strong and big and I believe he will win and become world champion again.”

After Los Angeles promoter Tom Brown won the purse bid to stage the fight last February, it was set in April but the pandemic forced a postponement. Donaire was installed the No. 1 mandatory challenger when Mexican Luis Nery was struck out of the ratings because of failing to make weight in a WBC-sanctioned fight twice in less than two weeks. The WBC gave the Oubaali and Donaire camps seven weeks to come to terms in arranging the bout and when there was no agreement, a purse bid was conducted in the governing body’s headquarters in Mexico City.

Donaire, 37, has won nine world titles in five divisions and is looking to add another belt to his collection. His record is 40-6, with 26 KOs compared to Oubaali’s 17-0, with 12 KOs. The Frenchman is a two-time Olympian who turned pro in 2014, 13 years after Donaire’s debut. Two of Oubaali’s victims were Filipinos Mark Anthony Geraldo in 2017 and Arthur Villanueva in July last year. Oubaali, 33, claimed the vacant WBC bantamweight crown on a decision over Rau’shee Warren in January last year and has since repulsed challengers Villanueva and Takuma Inoue.

SkySports writer James Dielhenn said he’s familiar with Oubaali’s style. “He’s a strong fighter and might try to bully Donaire,” said Dielhenn. “He also throws a lot of punches and could out-work Donaire who’s far more skillful but at this age and near the end of his career, he might be bullied by the younger and fresher Oubaali.”

Donaire said he respects Dielhenn’s opinion but doesn’t agree with it. “Everyone thought I’d be out in two rounds with Inoue,” said Donaire. “The fact of the matter is I know me. I’m a disciplined fighter who eats healthy, keeps my weight down and trains hard. We implemented new training methods during the Inoue camp and it showed in my fight. Now, we’re taking those training methods to the next level. I know Oubaali likes to throw a lot and that’s from his Olympic background. But I’ve also sparred with him once when I was not in camp and had to spar southpaw to simulate his opponent then. I won’t be fighting southpaw this time. I don’t think Oubaali will try to bully me but I’m ready for that if he tries.”

Donarie said he puts his trust in Schaefer to get things done. “Richard is a very smart man,” he said. “The moves he makes are very well thought out and I believe that’s why we work so well together.”

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