Nonito Donaire Prefers To Fight Mares Over Rigondeaux

    (July 6, 2012 – Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America)

    Nonito Donaire is widely considered a top 5 pound for pound fighter and he has earned his position in boxing by incredible displays of skill and athleticism inside the ring. The division in which Donaire fights is fairly deep, packed with notable talents like Abner Mares and Guillermo Rigondeaux. With Donaire’s latest victory coming by way of unanimous decision against South Africa’s Jeffrey Mathebula back on July 7th, it would seem as though the stage has been set for a highly anticipated matchup between him and one of the aforementioned fighters.

    At this point, though, that seems highly unlikely; especially with the proposed matchup between Donaire and former junior featherweight world champion Jorge Arce all but finalized. Also, Donaire has recently become the first fighter to volunteer for year-round drug testing with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).

    So it should come as no surprise that Nonito was a much anticipated guest on’s radio show this past Sunday and he spoke about these issues, amongst others. Take into consideration the fact that has had both Mares and Rigondeaux as guests on the show, as well as countless interviews and articles on both men regarding the subject of Donaire; it was only fair that we give Nonito the opportunity to speak his mind on that same platform (the fans deserve it also).

    Co-host Victor Salazar asked Donaire about the way his performances are judged and the amount of scrutiny that goes into his fight; an extremely fair question given the nature of Donaire’s performance against Mathebula.

    “Being one of the top guys in boxing, they [critics] want more and I understand that. The [Mathebula] fight I did pretty well, [I saw] all of the things I needed to see in the fight and all of the things I needed to experience being the smaller guy made me understand [how to fight as the smaller guy]. It’s their opinion, I’m just blessed that all of these people are paying attention to me,” Donaire said. 

    Donaire then went into specifics about the Mathebula fight, “We had a strategy, I felt that I was supposed to rush the kid and there was just a little misunderstanding in the corner as to what we should of done, but we did a good job on it. I think I fell in love with landing that hook, when I needed to take the last two rounds I did by boxing him.”

    “I’ve kind of been experimenting with power and with counter punching a lot and just trying to do something different that I could bring to the table with the much tougher guys. The last three fights [the opponents] weren’t dangerous for me, with a better fighter I’ll be a lot smarter; [it was a fight] you can kind of experiment with and I took the chance to learn from it so now I’m a more [well-rounded] fighter. So when I do fight with someone on top like Mares or Rigondeaux, I’m definitely going to be the [kind of fighter] you’ve always seen. My performance suffered because of the [experimenting] but when I do fight someone who I feel is going to give me a hard time all that knowledge will come in handy,” Donaire said.

    That led to the most significant issue of all, the issue of making the fights we all want to see Donaire in: Mares and Rigondeaux. Donaire explained that it isn’t as simple as it may seem and that many issues come into play. As far as the fight with Mares, we already know that the beef between Top Rank (Donaire’s promotion) and Golden Boy (Mares’ promotion) is the biggest hurdle of all.

    “Sometimes it’s really not up to me, you got to look at the world revenue, you got to look at the international (interest) and how it plays with the network and how it plays with Top Rank. I want to fight to get the belts, that’s the guys I want to fight, but no matter how much you say or how much encouragement you get from Twitter and Facebook to present to the promoters it just doesn’t work. I’m disappointed, it’s a negotiation process and it’s all about business. For these promoters they got to make things work for everybody,” Donaire said.

    When asked about the likelihood of a fight with Rigondeaux, Donaire said, “I would love to make the fight with Rigondeaux; I’ve never had problems with southpaws. He has a lot of amateur experience but there’s only a handful that make it, he apparently made it. I’d rather face Mares, he’s a true fighter. I told Cameron Dunkin, I want to take all the belts, and I want to beat the guys before I move up, I don’t know how high I can raise my body to gain weight. I’m hoping we can get this fight with Rigondeaux, it’s a good fight. I’ve wanted this fight to happen [in place of the last fight], but I presented the names that I wanted to fight but none of those guys came out.”

    It was reported that Anselmo Moreno turned down a fight with Donaire at 118lbs, we asked Donaire about the reported career high payday of 400,000 that Moreno reportedly turned down.

    “We’ve wanted to get the fight with Moreno, after the [Fernando Montiel] fight that’s the fight that I wanted- to get 3 belts. It never happened, maybe it was the negotiation process; [Moreno] signed with one of the promoters that wouldn’t let me have that opportunity and I wasn’t going to stay there forever and wait for a guy like I did Darchinyan. I said if they’re going to make it happen, they’re going to make it happen, same goes with Mares and Rigondeaux, they know I’m a fighter that accepts fights. I have a guarantee no matter who I fight; I’m always going to get paid the same. I could take the easiest route; it’s up to them to decide whether they want to fight me by not asking too much. If they want to fight me they got to price themselves what they should be priced, not tripled, not doubled.”

    “If they [fighters] see me, they see my price and they want to match it but the promoters say no, it was the same thing with Moreno. [The purse] was the biggest he would’ve gotten but he said it wasn’t enough,” Donaire said.

    Nonito ended the interview by briefly discussing his recent decision to engage in year-round drug testing.

    “I’m blessed that VADA came into the picture; [the example] is for the fans and kids out there. Every day, at any time of the year, at any moment, at any place they can come in and test [me]. It can happen as many times [possible] in a year. I think that it’s good for boxing; I think it’s good for people to know that there is somebody out there who made it to the top and [they’re] clean.”

    I applaud Nonito’s efforts to help clean up the sport of boxing, especially in the current climate of the sport. I just hope other fighters follow in his footsteps.


    For full audio of this interview click here: