Wednesday, February 21, 2024  |


Donaire eyes Narvaez, Mares-Agbeko II winner, Marquez, Gamboa

Fighters Network

Nonito Donaire wants as many big fights as he can get as fast as he can get them, largely because the WBC and WBO bantamweight titleholder’s swiftly getting bigger.

“For the last three years I’ve been fighting in an elite level, and my body is just growing as I get older. So I feel that it’s getting heavier,” said Donaire, who is 26-1 with 18 knockouts.

“After I rest for six months, I’m blowing up to about 145, and I’m not even fat or anything. So I really am losing a lot of weight to get back down to 118.”

Donaire will defend his belts against southpaw WBO junior bantamweight beltholder Omar Narvaez (35-0, 23 KOs) on Oct. 22, reportedly at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Donaire would then like to perhaps face the winner of an IBF-ordered bantamweight rematch between Abner Mares (22-0-1, 13 KOs) and Joseph Agbeko (28-3, 22 KOs).

After that, said Donaire, “I may want to go up to 122 the next time.”

That would mean targeting the winner of a clash of junior featherweights between WBC beltholder Toshiaki Nishioka (38-3, 24 KOs) and ex-titleholder Rafael Marquez (40-6, 36 KOs), or that between WBO counter part Jorge Arce (57-6-2, 44 KOs) and Simphiwe Nongqayi (16-1-1, 6 KOs).

Arce-Nongqayi is scheduled for Sept. 24, and Nishioka-Marquez, for Oct. 1.

“There’s many challenges out there that I can be dancing in the ring with. That’s pretty much what I’ve put in my head,” said Donaire. “If it’s there, then go for it. If it’s not, then let’s move on to a different challenge.”

Donaire could rise two divisions for a clash with such talents as unbeaten former two-belt featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa (20-0, 16 KOs), a Cuban former Olympic gold medalist who will face ex-beltholder Daniel Ponce de Leon (41-3, 34 KOs) on Sept. 10 on HBO.

“It’s going to be harder for me this time to be going down to 118, so I would rather take one of those great fights at 122 or at 126,” said Donaire.

“There’s Marquez, there’s Gamboa, there’s all of those guys that are out there waiting for me. So I know that eventually, like by next year, I could be there.”

Donaire last fought on Feb. 19 in Las Vegas, scoring a second-round knockout of Fernando Montiel (45-3-2, 35 KOs).

The win over Montiel was Donaire’s 25th consecutive win and his 10th KO in his past 12 fights. It also was the 28-year-old’s second fight as a bantamweight, following a fourth-round knockout of ex-titleholder Wladimir Sidorenko.

Next up for Donaire is the 36-year-old Narvaez, who is coming off a unanimous decision over William Urina in June in the third successful defense of the title he took from Everth Briceno in May of last year.

Narvaez won the WBO flyweight belt by beating Adonis Rivas, flooring him once in the seventh round in July 2002. Narvaez then made 16 successful defenses of that title.

“It’s a great challenge to be facing guys like Narvaez. He’s a southpaw and a tricky veteran. He’s been through different types of fighters and different styles,” said Donaire.

“Narvaez knows what he’s doing out there and he’s never been beaten before. So I want to look spectacular. I have to bring out the same energy that I brought with Sidorenko and Montiel.”

In victory over Narvarez, Donaire said that a fight that could be worth remaining at 118 for would be the winner of the rematch of last month’s controversial majority decision victory by Mares over Agbeko.

“That’s definitely a possibility,” said Donaire. “I just don’t want to have to wait for another year for that fight.”
Mares-Agbeko II could return to Showtime potentially in December, Golden Boy Promotions’ CEO Richard Schaefer recently told

Mares landed repeated low blows that went unpenalized by referee Russell Mora, including a shot to Agbeko’s cup that was ruled an 11th-round knockdown by Mora.

Schaefer said that he is awaiting a response from Showtime’s Sports general manager Ken Hershman.

“If they can make it happen, I’m ready to fight the best out there at 118, and I really and truly mean that. But if they’re going to make it happen, I want to make sure that it does happen,” said Donaire.

“I want to have a contract. I don’t want to wait and then the next thing that you know, they pull a [Vic] Darchinyan on me and not fight me.”

Donaire was referring to a situation that transpired during March of last year.

Donaire was the WBA’s interim titleholder when it appeared that a junior bantamweight rematch between himself and then-WBC and WBA beltholder Vic Darchinyan was close to being finalized.

Darchinyan, at the time, had gone 6-1-1, with five knockouts, since suffering a fifth-round knockout loss to Donaire in July of 2007.

There was a chance that the pair could face off again in August of last year on Showtime. But Darchinyan did not sign, his promoter, Gary Shaw, saying that the return bout’s negotiations were taking too long to complete.

“I want to make sure that they do sign the contract, I sign the contract, everything is good and it’s for sure so that I don’t have to wind up four to six months from now not having a fight or wondering if we have a fight or not,” said Donaire.

“I waited a rematch at 115 with Darchinyan, and it never happened, so I just need some insurance mentally that I’m going to be fighting. I don’t want to be sitting around when I could be doing something different. So with Darchinyan, that’s when I started calling out the best, which was Montiel, and I just moved up.”

Promoted by Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum, the 29-year-old Gamboa had long been on track to face Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez (30-1, 27 KOs) before Lopez was dethroned by Orlando Salido (36-11-2, 24 KOs) via eighth-round knockout in April.

Lopez has a fight opposite Mike Oliver on Oct. 1, after which he will likely rematch Salido.

If Gamboa defeats de Leon, Arum said he would try to match him against the Salido-Lopez winner, or else Donaire.

“As far as I’m concerned, big fights for Gamboa down the road are the winner of Juan Manuel Lopez and Salido. I would hope to make that fight by early next year,” said Arum.

“And then, probably the biggest fight in the featherweight division would be with the up and coming bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire, who will be going up to featherweight next year and that would be a big, big match.”


Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]