IT’S HARD to tell if Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has indeed lost faith in Nonito Donaire Jr. after the “Filipino Flash” was soundly beaten over 12 rounds by two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux last April. Arum could just as well be challenging the fallen fighter by pricking his pride.
“Listless” was how Arum described Donaire in his last fight which he lost by unanimous decision.
“Donaire is coming off the worst performance I have ever seen,” Arum said in a report in Philboxing.com. “He was seemingly unprepared for the fight.
“When something like that happens, I don’t know for sure if a fighter can snap out of it, so it remains to be seen. I don’t know if we’ll see the Donaire that we were used to seeing before the fight with Rigondeaux or another version of Donaire. That should make the rematch with Vic Darchinyan interesting.”
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For Darchinyan, who was knocked out by Donaire in the fifth round of their first fight in 2007, the Nov. 9 rematch presents an opportunity to redeem himself.
“He wants redemption, and by beating Donaire, doors will open for him again,” said Darchinyan’s manager, Frank Espinoza. “He’s at that point in his career where he doesn’t want to wait any longer.”
Born in Armenia, the 37-year-old Darchinyan totes a record of 39 wins and five losses. Since his dethronement by Donaire, his career has taken a roller-coaster ride; he lost two of his last four fights. In contrast, Donaire’s star rose steadily until Rigondeaux came along.
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Donaire’s trainer, Robert Garcia, said his ward has gotten back into top shape and looks better than ever for his next fight in Corpus Christi, Texas.
“I’ve never seen him like this before,” Garcia told Chris Williams of Boxing News. “He’s fast and he’s strong.”
Williams does not believe him, though.
“It’s doubtful that Donaire is better than ever,” wrote Williams. “He was also talking up Donaire before that last fight with Rigondeaux and you saw what happened in that fight.”
Williams questions the wisdom of having Donaire figure in a second fight with Darchinyan, whom the Filipino beat convincingly, instead of his tormentor Rigondeaux.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Williams said. “Donaire is moving up to featherweight but is fighting a super bantamweight in Darchinyan.
“It looks strange that Donaire is fighting Darchinyan instead of Rigondeaux. What is this move all about? Is Top Rank counting on casual boxing fans not having any memory of Donaire’s loss to Rigondeaux, or have they simply accepted this loss and moved on?”
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The good news is Nonito Jr. has reconciled with his father Nonito Sr. through the instigation of his wife Rachel.
For sure, no black candle will be lit by anyone for Nonito Jr. on Nov. 1.