The camp of Nonito Donaire Jr. is looking at a possible showdown with International Boxing Federation featherweight champion Evgeny Gradovich of Russia early next year.
This was revealed by Donaire’s manager Cameron Dunkin in an overseas telephone interview from his Las Vegas home.
At a glance, the featherweight division seems like a difficult place to deal with for, promotional and training camp-wise when it comes to challenging its titleholders.
Newly crowned World Boxing Council champion Jhonny Gonzalez of Mexico fights under Golden Boy Promotions, which for the longest time has been a bitter rival of Donaire’s promoter Top Rank, Inc.
The World Boxing Association ruler Chris John of Indonesia has shown little interest fighting stateside, while Gradovich is trained by Donaire’s current mentor Robert Garcia, older brother of World Boxing Organization champion Mikey Garcia.
However, Donaire’s manager is still convinced a title fight in that division can be easily done for Donaire since the Russian IBF champ is also under Top Rank.
“I’m glad they have him signed it will make it easy to make the fight. We’ve already been discussing the Gradovich fight for Nonito. Hopefully, we can make the deal to fight Gradovich for the IBF title early next year,” said Dunkin.
Last July in Macau, Gradovich had the Garcia brothers as well as stablemate Brandon Rios as chief supporters when the Russian dethroned Mauricio Javier Munoz of Argentina in their 12-round bout.
This, however, will not be the case if ever Gradovich and Donaire meet atop the ring next year.
According to Dunkin, Garcia, who is also the trainer of Gradovich, will stick with Donaire if ever the bout materializes next year.
“Gradovich understands that. Robert has already spoken to him about it. Robert is with Nonito 100%,” added Dunkin.
But before the planned title go, Donaire will first make a tune-up match this November.
Meantime, Dunkin said Donaire has started light training and is set to go full blast once they get to finalize their November outing.
“We are talking with three fighters for November and one of them is (Vic) Darchinyan. I still can’t divulge the names of the two other fighters at the moment,” said Dunkin.
Recently, Donaire announced plans of moving up in weight after losing his WBO superbantamweight crown to Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux last April in New York.
PENALOSA PROPHESY The statement of former two-division world champion Gerry Penalosa about Abner Mares of Mexico was in some ways justified with the way the Mexican hope lost last weekend.
Penalosa boldly declared that Oscar De La Hoya and his Golden Boy Promotions were grooming the wrong fighter for stardom.
“Magaling naman siya pero para sa akin ordinary champion lang siya siguro,” said Penalosa.
The 41-year-old Peñalosa mentioned the fights of Mares against Joseph Agbeko and Vic Darchinyan as indicators of the Mexican’s real capabilities.
The 27-year-old Mares escaped with a split decision win over Darchinyan before scoring a majority draw and close decision verdicts in his next two bouts both against Agbeko.
“Tingin ko, controversial ‘yung mga laban na ‘yun. Pero kahit na nanalo siya, hirap pa din siya sa kanila considering na may edad na si Agbeko and Darchinyan,’ said Peñalosa.
Peñalosa feels Mares was just lucky Golden Boy and Top Rank are still at odds, thereby preventing a supposed mouthwatering face-off between the Mexican and Donaire.
“Hindi niya ka-level si Donaire,” said Peñalosa.
Mares may have to forget that match versus Donaire now that he still has to recover from that devastating single round knockout loss he suffered at the hands of Jhonny Gonzalez.
HAPPY EDDIE Belated birthday greetings to Sports Communicators’ Organization of the Philippines president Eddie Alinea.
Alinea, who has covered countless tournaments here and abroad remains optimistic about the future of Philippine sports, specifically basketball.
“We just proved kaya natin manalo vs. teams bigger than us last FIBA Asia. We can finish 5th or 6th in the world with the right preparation and support from all concerned,” said the 70ish Alinea.
Mabuhay ka, “Dabosh”!