Tuesday, October 26, 2021  |

News

Nonito Donaire and Rachel Donaire are tag team duo fighting for clean boxing (Part 1)

06
Jul

The announcement that Nonito Donaire, whose rep rose to an all-time high when he stopped Nordine Oubaali on May 29, would return quickly to the ring versus fellow bantamweight titlist John Riel Casimero was met with across-the-board positivity.

A weight division title consolidation match, as part of a plan for unification, for a 38 year old athlete fighting at peak level, and the guy is the leading proponent for clean boxing to boot. Both were born in the Philippines, Casimero still lives there, while Donaire makes his home in Las Vegas. Bragging rights in the homeland being up for grabs helps ensure a certain level of anticipation for the showdown. Those elements together are what conjured the mass of kind words, and beyond laudatory career summations by pro and amateur pundits alike toward Donaire.

But fairly quickly, things moved in another direction, more so into combat mode. Maybe to build buzz, to start some mind games in a bid to get under someones’ skin, authentic emotions spilling over into the social media public square, or for some other reason(s)…But whatever the reasoning, a new ball got rolling on June 21 or so.

The wife of Nonito Donaire is Rachel Donaire. She celebrated her 39th birthday in fine fashion, the highlight pics I saw on Donaire social media had me mildly envious, it looked like guests were rollicking.

I only really took note of the occasion because Donaire posted some solid pics of his missus, and added text of appreciation (at left). That stood out, because I think most men or guys are too cool for school to show that type of affection for a spouse, so Nonito’s posting impressed me.

It turns out, according to Rachel Donaire, that at some point while she was boogeying, her phone started blowing up.

“On my birthday I was getting pings,” she told me in a phone chat from her California residence. “It was a stupid controversy.”

Some barbs aimed at Nonito (41-6 record, 27 KOs, turned pro in February 2001) had been making the rounds that day, contentions intended to make him look like he was being egotistical, I guess. Rachel slid away from the gathering, and looked at what stories were out there. Here mind started churning, as she began thinking of public proof that parts of the barb-stories were completely non factual.

I talked to Nonito after speaking to Rachel for a decent spell, and he told me, laughing, that he recommended to her to put the pings on ignore. Just enjoy the night out, was his basic message. But not doing a direct response, a real-talk blast-back in response to an aspersion cast publicly on her husband since August 2008, that would not be her way.

“Because I had evidence that the things being said were false,” Rachel said.

So why were those charges leveled at Nonito, I asked Rachel? “Because they had nothing else. How do you attack Nonito, one of the nicest guys in boxing?

So, she hopped in, to make sure contentions didn’t go un-challenged. No, Nonito didn’t snub Michael Dasmarinas, the Filipino foe of Naoya Inoue on June 19, at a weigh in, or anywhere.

No, Nonito didn’t ever snub Casimero when Nonito was asked if he’d spar the fighter a few years back. I run the sparring, Rachel noted, and his name never came up.

Nope, there was no snub by Nonito when Casimero wanted a photo with Nonito on June 19, she said, and she was willing to get witnesses present to attest to that.

Also, Rachel said that an assertion made on a video-log that VADA is prohibitively expensive, at $30,000, is hogwash. She had a quote in front of her, it wouldn’t be 30 Gs, she said, on social media.

The responses to the barbs took a pronounced turn when the subject of PED testing came up. There is some back and forth you can check out on Instagram and Twitter which has Rachel trading shots with Sean Gibbons, the fightgame lifer.

Gibbons probably deserves a level of salute, at how he’s elevated himself on the power ladder this decade. He’s basically the boxing right hand man for Manny Pacquiao, the fighting Senator from the Phillipines who is on track to grind on in the political realm and ascend to the top slot in his home-land. Gibbons is a guy who straight up inarguably knows what is happening in a ring, his eyes for the nuances of a prize fight are top shelf. To go with that, he’s unafraid to stir the pot on social media, and sometimes in a spicy manner. (There’s one Gibbons post taking aim at reformed ex BALCO bad boy Victor Conte, who owns a supplement company, SNAC, and advises a large handful of fighters. The presence of two jumbo dildos in the graphic had me re-considering sharing it, because maybe a young reader might put a parent on the spot, asking what those things are.)

It made sense for Gibbons to be involved in an online kerfuffle regarding Casimero, because he acts as agent on behalf of the 32 year old with a 30-4 record. The fighter repping Ormoc City, Leyte, Philippines started as a pro in 2017 and deserves to be a bigger name, but didn’t advance in rep because there’s less interest world-wide in stars at 108, 112, and so forth, up to 118 pounds, where he holds a WBO-version strap. Gibbons is low key one of the top operators in advocating and lobbying for guys he’s with, and he’s unafraid to get hands dirty with pugnacious talk. He’s formidable as debate foe, and he’s earned plenty of purse bumps and advantages, like concessions in some element of a promotion, for his fighters.

Rachel Donaire is also formidable, because like Gibbons, she’s not going to shy from confrontation on social. Here’s a bit of illumination, maybe, about that personality facet.

While I was talking some to Nonito, I started out with a bit of a curveball question. Not to be clever, I really wanted to know.

“Do you have a nickname for Rachel when she’s “doing that,” when she’s responding to something on social, with some ferocity, maybe,” I asked the 41-6 boxer/husband/father/anti PED lobbyist, who was born in Talibon, Bohon, Phillipines.

Nonito is completely unafraid to gush about his wife, and sometimes the tight husband-wife duo find themselves both weighing in on a social media beef, as a tag-team combo.

Nonito paused. I wasn’t sure if she had one, or if she did, that the man who rated pundits thought was right at the end of the career line in early 2018 would share it. He did, after two seconds..

“QB,” Nonito said.

“Oh, ….like quarterback, she’s like the quarterback of Team Donaire?” I answered.

“Queen Bitch,” he said, laughing now.

“Ahhhhhhhhh, OK,” I said, silently chewing on that.

It’s a meaty topic, actually, getting into that wording to convey a part of what Rachel brings to the table as spouse/manager. The fighter/co-spouse will tell you she deserves a ton of credit for helping him tweak his mental game to a degree that he is resurgent in a way that has him at near peak efficiency as an athlete.

But it’s an angle of the Donaire story that deserves the full-length treatment, and by a writing talent better able to form a clever thesis about Rachel Donaire and the challenges that present themself when strong-willed women get into the shark tank with the boys and prove to have sharp teeth.

So, the pings came on the night of her birthday, and ignoring them, leaving it to the next day, was considered.

And disposed of…

The portion of the beefing which I think deserves extra attention and scrutiny is the PED part.

Many, many boxing fans don’t know at all or maybe just a wee bit about the fact that Nonito Donaire is considered the No. 1 advocate for strict and severe testing for PEDs in all combat sports, in terms of longevity if not vehemence. Back in 2012, it was unquestioned that Nonito was the lead dog in calling for a shift to 24-7-365 PED testing for fighters. “They can come at any moment,” he told ESPN in December of 2012. “I’m a clean guy. I don’t drink or do anything bad. No weed or any chemical in my body. I have nothing to hide. I would love for all fighters to follow me, but not everybody is like me.”

He didn’t advocate with an edge, Nonito did so in a way that reflected his personality. “I always invite everyone to do it. It’s up to them. It’s voluntary for me. They can decline, I don’t really care. We would love to have them do that and it would be great, but I train hard and I don’t really care if people are on [performance-enhancing drugs] or not.”

Nonito hasn’t consistently been pounding the drums to make boxing a clean sport, an even-playing field endeavor, the last few years, and guess what, that’s understandable. He’d piled up a few losses. After his November 2016 loss to Jessie Magdaleno, and then a decision loss to Carl Frampton in April 2018, he had more basic questions on his mind than to what degree is the top tier of the sport comprised of athletes who use forbidden exotic chemicals to gain an edge.

Newer fans probably don’t know, but it’s not like Nonito hasn’t dealt with the ups and downs and slings and arrows that are not atypical inside boxing, which encourages drama because it is a free-form setup. There’s no league office setting the schedule, so it’s every man and woman out there for themself, looking to elevate themselves, and gain juicier opportunities. Nonito had to deal with pressure as being maybe the next big thing from the Philippines, post Pacquiao. He went through family issues as he sought to gain some independence with his fiancee Rachel Marcial. His childhood, with plenty of dark spots, was emotionally trying and he contemplated offing himself, in fact. So, he’s an upbeat type and you think maybe such a character would be that way because he has had a smooth ride in life. Not so.

Eyebrows were raised on some brows when Nonito aligned himself publicly and apologetically with Victor Conte, the former BALCO roid peddler who had transitioned to staking out turf on the sunny side of the street. Conte hawked supplements, legal, nothing too exotic about them, and after starting out selling designer chemicals to athletes from around 1988 until 2002. Then all the shit hit the fan, investigations started and proceeded ahead, to the point that reputations were savaged and people did some time.

The Bay Area fixture Conte in his rogue chemist/shady salesman days had a solid client base that grew when whispers spread about the effectiveness of his mixtures, that his EPO would boost the presence of red blood cells in a body, helping in oxygen transport. And his testosterone cream, and his THG steroid would make you jacked and ripped. Contes’ goodies were good for increasing stamina, shedding fat and building muscle, and a primo way to cut corners and still pass doping tests. The BALCO train ground to a halt after a tip to the feds in 2003 clued them in to the PED production factory, Conte pled guilty to being a mastermind and in 2005 did a four-month stint in a federal lockup.

Once released, he started up a supplement line, Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning (SNAC) for short.

Conte has an interesting back story. He played with jazz rockers Tower of Power in the 70s, then transitioned into entrepreneurship. (Photo by Kohjiro Kinno)

A zinc and magnesium powder called ZMA gained popularity, among weight lifters who believed in its ability to speed healing of damaged tissue and also to sleep better.

In a 2007 story, Conte said SNAC was accumulating about $300,000 a month in sales.

No surprise, though, that plenty of people couldn’t look past his past hijinks, and there will always be a segment of judges in the public square who suspect Conte didn’t go all clean following his fall.

So, when word dropped in 2010 that Andre Ward utilized Contes’ expertise, there was chatter.

And Conte, who owns an impish quality, indicated with a sly grin, and the way his eyes crinkle to close when he cracks a quip about his notoriety, had fun with it.

One of his concoctions was labeled “PED”…but that was short for “Performance Energy Drink.”

By the fall of 2011, Conte’s career re-invention looked to be on solid ground. Among the fighters he worked with as a strength and conditioning consultant was Nonito Donaire.

Screen shot of Oct. 20, 2011 story by Michael Woods for ESPN.com.

“They said I was a modern-day Al Capone,” he told NY Magazine. “In reality, it was very soft. I pled guilty to sharing a prescription for testosterone and money-laundering of $100, which may be the lowest amount ever in the federal judicial system. I did not cooperate. They asked me to wear a wire. I did not. I did four months in Club Fed. You had guys smoking marijuana in there, dealing coke, meth, steroids. You had guys in there using baby oil to get a suntan. It was bizarre.”

He presented himself as an ex rule breaker who now did his work out of the shadows, and his client list grew. Before his October 22, 2011 title defense against Omar Narvaez at Madison Square Garden, Conte’s mixmaster blends of Ubiquinol, beta-alanine, L-cernitine and L-arginine and whatever else had Donaire feeling a certain way.

“Man, I have so much energy,” Donaire said at the pre-fight presser. “I feel amazing, I feel incredible. Now I’m at like 21,000 feet.”

Anyway, Nonito wasn’t alone in taking a stand against rampant PED usage within the higher levels of the savage sport, but let’s just say there wasn’t then and isn’t now a legion of anti-PED crusaders making noise and forcing the sport to clean up its act. Paul Malignaggi, to his credit, risked nuclear blowback when he would rail against PED usage in the sport.

I spoke to Paulie in December of 2009, asking him to explain more why he was going at Manny Pacquiao, especially, as he spoke on the prevalence of PED usage in the pugilism sphere. Malignaggi thought it utterly impossible for a boxer to put on 15 or more pounds in the way Pacman did between March 15, 2008, when Manny fought Juan Manuel Marquez and weighed 129 pounds at the weigh in, and Nov. 14, 2009, when he fought Miguel Cotto and was 144 pounds at the weigh in, and more on fight night.

“It’s not natural looking,” Malignaggi told me, and this was during a time frame when it seemed like Pacquiao would sign to fight Floyd Mayweather, in a pound for pound battle to prove supremacy. “Pacquiao is not supremely blessed. I know body builders. They can’t put on 17 or whatever pounds of muscle in a year. It’s not doable, in my opinion. These are my speculations, my opinions based on certain factual evidence. Does his weight gain look normal to you? And his head looks like it has blown up in size, too.”

Then the system as a whole needs to be cleaned up, it goes beyond Pacquiao, right Paulie? “We can blame the system a little bit, but if you were Manny, wouldn’t you want to leave no doubt? Or speculation?”

There was speculation aplenty about Manny’s magnificent climb from division to division, that didn’t cease, and the Pacquiao-Mayweather match didn’t get off the runway until May 2, 2015. Along the way, Mayweather would needle Pacman (“Take the test, take the test”). And, indeed, Floyd himself got the microscopic treatment after his Pacman bout. Thomas Hauser wrote a lengthy treatment about the type and quality of testing Mayweather received for the Pacquiao tussle, and drew back his lens to look at some of the players involved in that sector. He reported that one of the heavyweight agencies in the testing arena, VADA, charged $16,000 to do drug testing for the April 2015 fight between Ruslan Provodnikov and Lucas Matthysse. Another organization which administers testing, USADA, charged $36,000 for the April 2015 fight between Andy Lee and Peter Quillin. OK, so different companies charge varying rates for the same type of service. But USADA reportedly got $150,000 to test Mayweather and Pacquiao—and the implication was laid out for readers: “More troubling than USADA’s fee structure are the accommodations that it seems to have made for clients who either pay more for its services or use USADA on a regular basis,” Hauser wrote.

But such investigations are not close to the norm within the boxing “journalism” space. Hauser in that piece worked more like a Seymour Hersh than a Dan Rafael, or Mike Coppinger. There are a few reasons for that–first, that’s in Hausers’ DNA. Four four decades of boxing coverage, he’s spent heavy energy and time on investigating, on sniffing out, digging and seeking confirmation on topics which feature elements of less than fully pure behavior and practices of people in power. That takes a certain level of intelligence, but more than that, diligence, focus, and most of all, intent. He sees a need to activate pushback on bad actors, or those he perceives to be amoral operators who cut corners in order to excel, or grow their stacks, or maintain bases of power. But that mindset, you may have noticed, has diminished in the last 20 or more years, and even more noticeably within the last five or so. As newspapers continue to thrash about to stave off drowning, budget cuts to keep them alive discourage deep-diving into complex subjects like the presence of PEDs within sports.

Papers and platforms are today much less likely to try to afford the services of a craftsman like Hauser. And it’s not just because of the perception that there isn’t a growling hunger for investigative fare–publishers will tell you that attention spans aren’t what they used to be, and the return on investment for investigative stories isn’t usually that robust. Eyeballs is what they want and that aim is typically rewarded more so for easy-to-digest breaking news about a fight that is being put together, or a colorful shit-talk session from one standout pugilist putting a potential rival on blast. That reality has “reporters” quite often acting more like stenographers, dutifully passing on what prominent Fighter A said about prominent Fighter B, than as what the definition of “reporter” used to promise.

And boat rockers are a rare breed today. As Malignaggi’s stature as a commentator grew, the frequency of his rants against “dirty” boxers lessened. Makes sense, he was by now not an active fighter, after 2017, he was an analyst, the one to dissect the technical/strategic parts of prize fights.

Think about it, it makes all the sense–Paulie was getting a handsome paycheck from Showtime, so did it make sense for him to launch arrows at fighters who were featured on the Showtime platform? Not if he wanted to stay employed. And I’m not pointing the finger at Paulie, and ignoring the fact that some of the fingers not doing the pointing are aimed at me. There are but a handful, literally, of reporter/writers who are employed by a platform that is separate from the sport. You had Mike Coppinger, Lance Pugmire and Rafe Bartholemew at The Athletic, an entity which serves up stories, mostly text, on the happenings within pro boxing. That would allow more leeway to pursue meatier stories, like the one Hauser did for SB Nation, right? In theory, sure. But in reality, as social media grew in stature, the importance of the middle man or woman to report “news” lessened. Athletes could and do break news themselves. So, us reporters who were used to being seen as “useful” messengers became less and less useful to powers that be, to power players seeking to publicize themselves, or an event. As our usefullness receded, our methods were impacted. In order to maintain a certain level of access to the power players, would it make sense for us to pursue avenues of coverage that were controversial, or might make the subjects uncomfortable? Not so much.

So; no one took the reins from Paulie, really, in being so blunt about the presence of performance enhancement drugs in boxing. Yes, there have been some brave souls who have gone on record talking about the scourge, or however you’d like to label the wide-spread indugence of using banned supplements to gain an edge in stamina and strength. The first that comes to mind for me is Stephen “Breadman” Edwards, the trainer out of Philadelphia. He’s been willing to talk from the heart about the issue, of prevalence of use of EPO and HGH and cell boosters and fine-tuned synthetic steroids and some others that have not yet been detected by the always-a-step-behind crew in the testing space. Julian ‘J-Roc’ Williams, the former 154 pound champ who worked with Edwards, also is fearless when it comes to advertising his take on PED users in boxing.

Back in October of 2017, I spoke to Edwards about the PED problem within the sport.

“You know how many people have told me to give Julian PEDs? I had at least five people tell me to juice him up,” Edwards told me for the Everlast Talkbox podcast. “Swear on my kids. Just juice him up, everybody’s doing it! You guys might as well just juice the fuck up and win a title. He’s already talented as it is, if he juice he’ll be a beast! That’s what’s going on now! I had someone tell me, ‘man you crazy for not juicing, if they’re not blood testing obviously you know what’s going on, just juice like everybody else! That’s what’s going on now!”

Then, and now.

There really hasn’t been anything close to a consistent drum beat of those prominent boxers, or promoters, platform providers, media, or fans making noise about “the PED problem” for a few years. That absence of activism doesn’t puzzle me, really, because I offer that if polled, a super majority of power players would admit to you, if ID’d only as “source,” that they’ve reached a level of acceptance.

Resignation is probably the better term, because I do actually think a majority, not as “super” as referred to before, of the sports’ influencers and power brokers believe at least partially that people should compete against each other without being aided by chemicals that can make a RADICAL difference in ones’ performance.

That’s not to say everybody is waving the flag of surrender, and assuming that darkside human nature cannot be challenged and defeated, that the “cheat ya to beat ya” bunch will always find a way to skirt laws and standards in order to get that edge. The WBC, led by Mauricio Sulaiman, did indeed put together a framework of testing and standards to address the presence of PEDs within a sport that is mis-labeled, frankly, because “sport” doesn’t suggest the true identity of the stakes in play.

In May of 2016, Sulaiman announced the WBC Clean Boxing Program.

WBC champs and anyone in the WBC’s top 15 in each weight class would be subject to random testing, with VADA serving as the testing agency.

Sulaiman gets points for trying, that’s more than pretty much anyone else who holds a respectable level of power within the pugilism realm.

And, let’s make certain to offer a ‘look at the bright side’ example of how the system is working, to an extent. Light heavyweight ultra vet Jean Pascal had been set to fight Badou Jack on June 6, on the card topped by the Floyd Mayweather v Logan Paul exhibition. Pascal v Jack was to be a sequel to their Dec. 28, 2019 clash, won by the born-in-Haiti resident of Canada Pascal (35-6-1), via split decision.

Jack, a Swede who lives in Vegas, is 37 years old, and holds a 24-3-3 mark. It looks to me like he’s a solid citizen, for years I’ve seen references to charitable work he performs. The former super middleweight and light heavy titlist didn’t hold back when he learned that the fight was off, because Pascal had tested positive for PEDs.

“My fight with @jeanpascalchamp is OFF as he tested positive for 3 different steroids,” Jack wrote on Twitter May 28. “We suspected he was dirty the first time around and @Vada_testing confirmed it this time. I’m still fighting on June 6th and my team is looking for a replacement opponent. Alhamdulillah.”

For you chem majors, the verboten substances flagged were Drostanolone, a Drostanolone metabolite, a byproduct of the breakdown of Drostanolone and also Epitrenbolone. A test performed after the one that zapped Pascal showed the presence of another no-no synthetic, EPO.

On May 29, this post went up on Pascals’ Twitter:

“I am shocked and embarrassed. I would never voluntarily take illegal substances. I’ve always fought for a clean sport and will continue to do so. I’m one of the first modern boxers to insist on random testing and I’ve passed countless tests during my 13 years at the highest level of boxing. I want to assure all my fans that this is an isolated incident and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to prove it. My strength and conditioning coach was fired last night.”

Knowing that the notorious Memo Heredia has advised Pascal in the past, I messaged Heredia, asking him if he was the coach that Pascal fired. “Fired me? I been in Vegas for months and I haven’t been in PR since felix verdejo era,” Heredia replied. “Get your facts right my man. Why don’t you ask Pascal? My advise to you is stop fishing or assuming & get off your desk to do some investigative work…Your credibility depends on it.”

“Dude, don’t give me fucking attitude,” I wrote back to Heredia. “He said he fired his guy, he didn’t name his guy.” And neither did Heredia, who ducked and slipped like an ace. “What’s your problem,” Heredia said. “Stop fishing or assuming & get off your desk to do some investigative work.”

I didn’t really get anywhere. “Ok you right, my English could be rough… but yours too…Ok, no problem, all good here and have a good weekend,” Heredia finished.

To my knowledge, the identity of that coach who was supposedly fired hasn’t been made public. Basically, Heredia was telling me that “it wasn’t me” because he wasn’t in Puerto Rico, where Pascal had been training. Several attempts to get clarity from Pascal didn’t receive a reply. It would have been useful to ask Pascal about the January 5, 2020 Boxing Scene piece by Ryan Burton, which quotes Heredia saying, “I develop all of the training plans, supplementation, regimens and training blocks. In this case with Jean I gave the responsibility to my second coach Angel Martinez to follow up my programs. I have a lot of trust in my guy. I have been his mentor for almost 7 years now.”

Pascal tried to contain the fire when he wrote on Twitter, “I realize that no matter what I say, this is a stain on my name and l’m determined to wash it out. If that means I have to come out of pocket for the most advanced 365 days random VADA testing available to boxers than that’s what I’ll do.” If and when that occurs, I will applaud and make sure to splash the news liberally.

Regarding Heredia, it would make sense, I think, for an oversight body to demand that he answer on the record his role, or lack thereof, in overseeing or running a strength/conditioning program for Pascal. It’s no secret that Conte believes Heredia should be given the third degree by oversight authorities. Those two have a history, which needs its own platform and dedicated space, but basically, here’s a quickie take to help you understand that the “strength and conditioning” realm is something of a small world.

According to Wikipedia, “Ángel Guillermo “Memo” Heredia Hernández (born 22 November 1975) is a Mexican former discus thrower, drug dealer and sports coach.”

A 2006 NY Times story mentioned Heredia, ID’d as “Angel Guillermo Heredia of Mexico and Laredo, Texas,” reporting that Heredia told a grand jury investigating MLBer Barry Bonds that he “supplied performance enhancing drugs” to a prominent track coach named Trevor Graham. The Jamaican native Graham, it’s been reported, tipped off authorities that those inclined could find effective PEDs which were able to be masked better than others previously on the dark market at Conte’s place of business. Conte’s house of shortcuts toppled, and felled MLB powerhouse Barry Bonds. Heredia’s name came into that mix in 2006. ESPN The Magazine in 2013 called Heredia “perhaps the most prolific drug dealer in track and field,” referring to a time frame which Heredia referenced in a July 2006 stint in front of a federal grand jury. Heredia worked for Graham from 1996 to 2000, he told the grand jury. Heredia’s cooperation with law enforcement helped him escape severe punishment, and he told ESPN Mag he didn’t regret cooperating. He also stated that he left behind his old ways, and now does things on the up and up.

Conte has to this day boasted that he didn’t go the same route as Heredia, and sing the feds. And to this day, Conte and Heredia shouldn’t be invited to the same holiday party, they don’t get along.

The Conte-Heredia history isn’t an ancillary digression, by the way. Heredia has worked with the WBO bantamweight champ Casimero for two fights, and, he said to Ryan Burton for a Boxing Scene story which posted on June 19, “It is going to be nice to be back with Casimero for the third time. It is going to be a big fight. Obviously it isn’t going to be an easy fight when you fight a guy with experience and good technique like Rigondeaux – it is going to be a hard fight. I truly believe that the power in Casimero is now stronger. I am looking forward to starting camp on June 1st. This is our third camp and we will be working on adding even more power and speed. He has already started doing a pre-camp in the Philippines.”

No need to stay confused; Heredia was speaking about Casimero’s next fight, which was to be against Guillermo Rigondeaux. But that pairing got switched, and WBC bantam champ Nonito Donaire was scheduled to fight Casimero August 14, in a title unification tango.

And that’s why it wasn’t random when Heredia’s name popped up and inserted itself into the online jostling during and right after Rachel Donaire’s birthday bash.

I went to Heredia’s Instagram account, to get a timeline of the scuffling, which included him, and Sean Gibbons, trading shots with Nonito Donaire, but Heredia’s account was set to private. The coach/advisor to Casimero waded into the fray when he put his two cents in to a thread involving Rachel and Nonito. “Don’t get me involved in your circus,” the Heredia account challenged.

Nonito said Memo’s name wasn’t mentioned, and it doesn’t concern him.

Heredia replied to Nonito that he has no problem with the fighter. “You’ve always been a gentleman and friend.”

It is clear, though, that Team Donaire, and that’s the right term, because the fighter and his wife are a team, was wanting that even playing field situation in Nonitos’ next fight, against Casimero. Nonito isn’t one to get growly and puff his chest out and posture, he saves that for the ring. But Rachel Donaire wasn’t even half joking when she’s trying to get as stringent as possible PED testing for the Donaire v Casimero faceoff. She kept at Casimero on social, pointing out that he wasn’t signed up for a full Monte VADA program, and then offered to pay for Casimero’s portion, in case anyone there used cost as an impediment.

Rachel also had one hand free to return fire on Gibbons, and also squeeze off a few rounds. She dug up a 2017 Irish Times piece which hazes Gibbons pretty hard, for past conduct, so Gibbons came back by calling the story “fake news,” and warning Rachel that he could furnish some spicy tales of his own.

Rachel Donaire wasn’t backed into a corner. She put out a post, addressed to Casimero and Gibbons, which upped the stakes: if Casimero wasn’t signed on to full Monte VADA by midnight July 26 into the 27th, with all needed paperwork submitted, the Donaire-Casimero fight would be cancelled. “Tired of ur run around BS. Time..starts…now.”

On Saturday night, a little before 6 PM her time, Rachel Donaire told me that Saturday morning, she was in “pull the plug” mode, that she was inclined to cut the cord. “They’ve had the forms to do full VADA testing since what, Tuesday? I wasn’t going to keep playing around. I wanted to pull the plug on the bullshit game they were playing.” There was some confusion, talk of the fight being cancelled, but a full memo on that didn’t go out, and talk about testing for Casimero and Nonito continued.

I asked Nonito Donaire why he was making a renewed push regarding PED testing.

“I love the sport of boxing and I represent it well, I think. It’s important to have clean boxing for the betterment of the sport. I want to encourage everybody that they can do anything naturally at the highest level. And a lot of it is about character, too,” Nonito said. “I’m an old school kind of guy, it’s about integrity, loyalty to the sport and self, it’s what I stand for. For me, I’ve grown up with a level integrity and character in honoring myself. And my kids (two boys, age 6 and age 7) watch me like a hawk. I want to be a good example not just for kids, and myself. How many people have we seen get caught, and get fined, instead of banning them? We have to be looking at peoples lives. It’s ridiculous to me, how lenient they are. And so why aren’t there more fighters lined up with me, taking this stand? Because it’s normalized. People hear about it and they get de-sensitized. I want to show everybody that we can make things happen, we don’t have to cheat. It’s about being healthy! I can be 40 and still beat you, 45 and still beat these guys!”

Yes, he said, he’s not on a two year plan, with the aim being to retire at 40. He’s thinking he can be a boxing Tom Brady. I joked, asking if anyone had started to bust chops on him by calling him “Grandpa?”

He pondered, and then laughed. “This ‘grandpa,”’ Nonito said, “can whip their ass.”

End Part 1….

Follow Michael Woods on Twitter if you like.