Nonito Donaire, rising superstar
Manny Pacquiao is leaving the sport sooner or later. Nonito Donaire is the next best Filipino fighter still active and has the fastest growing stock of any fighter on the planet.
His promoter Bob Arum recently told Boxing Scene that he has a plan to move Donaire from the Bantamweight (118 lbs) division, where he captured multiple world titles in his third weight division, to the junior featherweight (122 lbs) division.
Donaire's first planned opponent is WBC world champ Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KOs) for March 2012. Though Nishioka turned down an offer because he doesn't want to fight again until May, Arum plans to offer him more money to help move along his fight plans for Donaire.
Next on Arum's list is a fight with popular Mexican fighter and WBO world champion Jorge Arce (57-6-2, 44 KOs) in June to open a new arena in Manila.
Beyond that, Nonito Donaire has confirmed alongside Bob Arum that he plans to fight at least four or five times in 2012.
Here's an examination of Donaire's potential fights in 2012 and what could transpire.
Arum has mentioned 32-year-old WBO world champion Jorge Arce as a possible February foe for Donaire, if the lure of more money can't land WBC world champion Nishioka in March.
What Arce possess more than anything that Donaire could benefit from is his name. Arce is popular and beloved, making him a great name to add to Donaire's resume as he rises to superstardom.
Arce doesn't have much besides his determination and all-action brawling style to pose a threat. Donaire will likely easily outbox and out-punch the determined yet flawed warrior.
Nishioka is 35 year old and coming off the best win of his career against future Hall of Famer Rafael Marquez (39-6, 35 KOs).
Donaire could be the final piece to his legacy or Nishioka could be the building block that helps build Donaire's legacy.
The classic battle of the rising and falling champion is an age-old battle in boxing that attracts analyst of all kinds to ponder the outcome.
While it's no doubt Donaire would be the favorite to win, this battle is filled with intrigue and excitement.
Rigondeaux is a defected Cuban amateur legend, who's blazing a big trail for a guy who has less than 10 pro fights.
His scheduled December duel with Rico Ramos (20-0, 11 KOs) is likely to end in Ramos' first loss. That's a testament to the skill and conditioning of Rigondeaux.
Arum is likely to pit the two against each other some day, but a match of this magnitude needs heavy promotion. Will Arum pit the two against each other in 2012?
He felt he could further hype up formerly undefeated Juanma Lopez (30-1, 27 KOs) and currently undefeated Yuriorkis Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs). Then Lopez suffered his first loss to someone Gamboa dominated.
That took the intrigue right out of their proposed matchup. The same can happen to Rigondeaux-Donaire.
In order to prevent such, the match would just have to receive the type of hype machine a Cotto Margarito II fight would receive.
The risk would be great, but the matchup would be guaranteed to please the fans. Both fighters possess otherworldly skill and talent, and their matchup deserves as many eyes on it as possible.
Yuriorkis Gamboa celebrates another knockout
Bob Arum has spoken about plans to pit Donaire against other fighters above and beyond 122, such as featherweight (126 lbs) standout Yuriorkis Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs).
A possible matchup against Brandon Rios (28-0-1, 21 KOs) at lightweight (135 lbs) is also possible according to Bob Arum.
But Donaire will be taking things slowly at one division at a time. One look at his three-fight decimation of the Bantamweight (118 lbs) division and one begins to wonder if Donaire can contain himself to one new division over the course of four to five fights in 2012.
Time will tell if Donaire will follow in Pacquiao's footsteps, climbing weight divisions like stairway steps to a place in boxing's great storied history.