5 Things Nonito Donaire Can Do to Become Fighter of the Year in 2011
Nonito Donaire (27-1, 18 KOs) has shocked the world earlier this year with an amazing second-round knockout of former pound-for-pound Mexican star Fernando Montiel (44-3-2, 34 KOs).
Then Donaire got into a long spat with his promoter over money that caused him to sit out at least half of the year.
Now Donaire has settled all of his promotional problems with a contract that's rumored to pay at least $700,000 a fight with a minimum of three fights a year. He's already had one this year, yet time is ticking to fulfill his obligation.
Donaire is set to headline an HBO date set for Oct. 22 and may end up returning on the undercard of the rematch of the decade, Miguel Cotto versus Antonio Margarito II in Madison Square Garden.
With 2011's other potential fight of the year candidate's facing only mediocre competition (Sergio Martinez) or facing an enormous task (Victor Ortiz's fight against Mayweather), Donaire has the best shot considering the options he has. Here are his five best options to become fighter of the year.
5. Unify the Bantamweight Belts by Facing Anselmo Moreno
Donaire has stated before that he would like to unify the belts at 118 lbs. Now is his chance follow through on that. Donaire has two belts; he only has two more to go.
If a fight with current IBF world champion Abner Mares cannot be secured, a showdown with WBA world champion Anselmo Moreno (31-1-1, 11 KOs) could be next, seeing that his potential fight with Eric Morel is falling apart.
Moreno was looking to face Morel on the undercard of Bernard Hopkins versus Chad Dawson on Oct. 15.
Then Moreno versus Morel was pushed to November. Now rumors have the fight going up in smoke. Donaire and Moreno were scheduled to fight earlier this May anyway.
Finally pitting those two against each other on Oct. 22 could help Donaire land another impressive knockout performance against a worthy challenger who has been champion for nearly three years.
4. Unify the Bantamweight Belts by Facing Mares vs Agbeko Winner II
Mares is the new IBF world champion. He's young, talented and brings the fight to his opponents in every match. Donaire could take his belt in a potentially fight of the year candidate.
The only problem is Agbeko, the man Mares took his championship from. Agebko complains of the low blows landed by Mares in their fight and the referee's lack of point deduction and fairness towards him in regards to the illegal maneuver.
If the calls for a rematch grow loud enough, they will surely eclipse a possible fight with Donaire. This match, if it gets done quickly enough, could happen in October.
If the winner of that fight is ready and willing, Donaire could be waiting in December with a tempting fight date, a spot on the undercard of Cotto versus Margarito II, the biggest fight of the year.
Despite probably not wanting to go through a tougher war after going to war with each other twice, the winner of Mares versus Agbeko II will likely say yes to the biggest payday and exposure of their lives, something a spot on the Cotto versus Margarito II undercard can definitely ensure.
3. Face the Winner of Rafael Marquez vs Toshiaki Nishioka
Donaire has teased a move up to 122 lbs (super bantamweight) for some time in order to conquer a fourth weight class in a bid to emulate his fellow Filipino countryman, Manny Pacquiao, who became world champion in a record eight weight classes.
Donaire has been given the option of Jorge Arce or the winner of Marquez versus Nishioka. Marquez (40-6, 36 KOs) is a living legend and Nishioka (38-4-3, 24 KOs) is a great fighter. Either one would definitely add to his fighter of the year resume for 2011.
Because Marquez versus Nishioka takes place on Oct. 1, a proposed match with the winner would have to take place in December likely on the Cotto versus Margarito II undercard.
Donaire would be testing himself against not only a well-seasoned veteran world champion, but a world champion at a new weight class.
Unless Donaire decides to get a 122 lb tune-up in October, his first fight at 122 will be against someone who's been there for years. A knockout win against odds such as those would inspire boxing stories filled with praise and hyperbole for months to come.
2. Jorge Arce
Jorge Arce (57-6-2, 44 KOs) is a popular 32-year-old Mexican legend with an extensive resume of action-packed fights. This resume gained him the experience to now hold his current WBO super bantamweight world championship, his fourth weight class to earn a world title in.
If bloodshed is your thing, then get excited for a Donaire versus Arce fight. Arce doesn't give up and never backs down as can be seen in his most recent fight against Puerto Rico's own Wilfredo Vazquez Jr (20-1-1, 17 KOs.
The 27-year-old suffered his first loss at the hands of Arce's determination. Can Donaire overcome such a beast, especially in his first trip to 122 lbs? If any fight is worthy of pay-per-view, this is it.
1. Yuriorkis Gamboa
Boxing is all about risk and reward.
If there is great risk, there is unimaginable reward. Yuriorkis Gamboa (20-0, 16 KOs) is the current WBA and IBF featherweight (126 lbs) world champion.
Gamboa fights on Sept. 10 against Daniel Ponce de Leon (41-3, 34 KOs). Should Gamboa blow him out of the water, a Cotto versus Margarito II undercard offer can be made.
Unlike many of Donaire's best options, Gamboa is promoted by the same promoter as Donaire, Top Rank. The only problem would be whether Donaire wants the fight or not.
Maybe a fight in at least the 122 lb division during his Oct. 22 return to HBO could allow Donaire to adjust and see if a fight with Gamboa is feasible for his body.
Donaire has the reach advantage by three inches. He has the height advantage by at least an inch. If Donaire can retain his speed and at least some of his power, he can let his skills do the rest.
Make no mistake about it, Gamboa at 126 lbs would give Donaire the blues. That fight would be the hardest and most punishing of Donaire's career to this point, but the rewards would be instant fighter of the year props and praise that would be unequaled in the boxing hemisphere.