Former junior featherweight and featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire is scheduled to face Cesar Juarez this Friday in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum on truTV. Now, thanks to the WBO, this fight will be for vacant junior featherweight world title. The fight is the co-feature of a card headlined by Felix Verdejo who returns from injury to face Josenilson Dos Santos.
This is the same title that was stripped from Guillermo Rigondeaux due to inactivity. With Donaire and Juarez being the two highest ranked fighters made this an easy decision for the WBO to sanction.
In a division that maintains Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg as two of its titlist, this is a significant decision for the division and makes the winner between Donaire and Juarez a major player in the division.
Donaire, who almost came to terms for a title fight against WBA champion Quigg, once held the WBO championship at junior featherweight before losing it to Rigondeaux in April of 2013.
According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, Donaire-Juarez was only able to be sanctioned after Rigondeaux withdrew his appeal for the WBO’s decision to strip him.
Donaire has won titles in four different weight classes while Juarez will be fighting for his first opportunity at a major world title.
It is hard to suggest that this is Donaire’s ACT II because he has not looked like the dominant fighter we remember him to be. Since reigning as a top 5 pound for pound fighter, he has lost to Nicholas Walters as well as Rigondeaux, and he even looked less than stellar against Vic Darchinyan in November 2013.
Juarez, on the other hand, has three total losses in his career, including a points decision loss to Jorge Lara in 2012, and lacks any real notable wins. It is difficult to call this fight, but logic says that Donaire is primed to win his next world title. When Donaire was a champion he was thought of as a beast and seemed willing to take the fight to all comers. However, with what has happened in his career, it is hard to determine what kind of champion he will be this time around because being a smart titlist in this era means something different.