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During the promotional build up to Donaire's East Coast debut against the previously undefeated Argentinian Omar Narvaez, 35(19)-1-2, in Madison Square Garden last October, Top Rank's Bob Arum told a media call that I participated in that his goal for Nonito Donaire was to develop him into a "pay-per-view draw."
In other words, Arum believes Donaire can be the kind of fighter that fans will shell out an extra $50 to $60 to watch, over and above what they are already paying to get fights on basic cable, Showtime and HBO. That's a select group indeed in today's sporting world.
The fight with Donaire didn't exactly derail that train, but it sure didn't advance it any further down the tracks, either. Narvaez, who was moving up in weight, was much smaller and much slower than Donaire. He discovered in the early rounds that he wasn't quick enough to effectively counterpunch on Donaire and spent the rest of the night using his considerable defensive abilities to avoid being hurt.
It made for a less than thrilling fight and a frustrated Donaire ended the fight still trying to force the action as he listened to the unappreciative Garden crowd chant "This is Bull Sh--!"
Frankly, I see this more as a miscue by the Top Rank matchmaking department than I do as a blemish on Donaire' resume. Narvaez was a 36-year-old veteran who could see as clearly as anybody else that he was overmatched, with no hope of winning. Rather than recklessly swinging for the fences and guaranteeing that he would go out on his shield, he stubbornly insisted on at the very least protecting himself from absorbing significant head trauma.
Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. will be a different story entirely. This is a hungry 27-year-old former world champion looking to get his strap back. He doesn't see himself as just one more name on the resume of the great Nonito Donaire, he sees himself as the guy who is going to knock Donaire back down to earth as he ascends to the heights.
This is a fight with two extremely talented young boxers looking to show the world that this is their time. Together they have a combined 36 knockouts in 50 fights and I expect to see them both going for another one on Saturday night.