Now it can be said: WBO super bantamweight champion Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire and users of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) are a volatile mix.
A report released by Philippine news portal GMA Network on Feb. 27 reveals Donaire is willing to slug it out with an opponent who is found guilty of doping. He was quoted by the report as saying on Feb. 21:
I believe that people who try to enhance themselves in that way should be punished in every way. But at the same time I'm still willing to fight, I'm a fighter. I want to fight guys who are on it because it gives me a better challenge. I'm crazy like that.
The article also confirms that Donaire is the only professional boxer who submits himself to random, year-round testing for PEDs through the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA).
An article written by Max Boxing's Gabriel Montoya on Feb. 27 reveals Donaire initially decided in years past he would fight even if his opponent did not undergo VADA or United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing during training camp.
But this will change pretty soon.
Montoya says Donaire offered his two most recent opponents, Japan's Toshiaki Nishioka and Mexico's Jorge Arce, to join him in VADA testing. Both ignored the request. Both of them were also dismantled by Donaire in convincing fashion—Nishioka by ninth-round TKO and Arce by third-round KO.
The report also says Donaire offered his upcoming opponent, WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo "Rigo" Rigondeaux of Cuba, to join him in undergoing VADA testing. Rigondeaux reportedly verbally agreed.
However, to Donaire's dismay, Rigondeaux failed to sign the VADA contract when both parties arrived in New York City. Both the GMA Network and Max Boxing reports confirm Donaire refused to fight unless the copy of the VADA agreement was signed by his opponent.
With this in mind, Montoya points out Donaire made a smart move by resorting to social media to pressure Rigondeaux into signing. He also adds another ulterior motive was to perhaps urge Top Rank to convince the WBA super bantamweight champ to affix his signature on the VADA papers.
Despite his initial refusal to fight unless the papers were signed, Donaire's stance appeared to have softened when a separate statement about the Rigondeaux bout was posted on the Max Boxing site on Feb. 24:
The requirements of drug testing set forth in the negotiations for the fight with Rigondeaux was not met by the deadline of the press conference as agreed upon and I have the option of canceling the fight at this point. I have decided to follow through with the fight in April out of respect for HBO and my fans who have bought tickets and travel.
The same statement also made it abundantly clear that Donaire, from this point onward, will require his future opponents to undergo drug testing and that he is not accusing Rigo of taking PEDs:
I have decided from this point on, I will MANDATE my opponents to enroll in drug testing before I agree to any fights. Performance enhancing drugs has become rampant in sports and needs to be addressed. I want to clarify that I am not accusing Rigondeaux of taking performance-enhancing drugs but do not agree with the amount of time and wasted effort it took to secure drug testing that he previously agreed to.
After a standoff at the press conference which lasted for more than an hour, Rigondeaux and his team finally relented. They signed after negotiating the option to reserve the right to additional testing with USADA. The papers were signed at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York's Times Square with Donaire, his entourage and New York State Athletic Commission head Melvina Lathan in attendance.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum confirmed that the results will be held in confidence and turned in to the New York State Athletic Commission.
Coming into the fight, Donaire has a stellar professional record of 31-1 with 20 knockouts. He has reeled off an impressive 30 straight wins since his last loss by unanimous decision against Rosendo Sanchez in 2001. He also snagged The Ring Magazine's 2012 Fighter of the Year Award.
On the other hand, Rigondeaux, a southpaw, has an unblemished record of 11-0 with eight wins by KO.
The Donaire-Rigondeaux bout is scheduled to take place on April 13 at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It will be broadcast live by HBO and is being promoted by Top Rank.