NEW YORK CITY—He’s fighting his biggest fight. In the biggest city. And for the biggest paycheck.
Nonito Donaire Jr., aspiring to continue treading the path blazed by Manny Pacquiao, is getting $725,000 guaranteed purse for his title defense against Omar Narvaez of Argentina on Saturday (Sunday morning in Manila) at the Madison Square Garden’s The Theater here.
Top Rank boss Bob Arum confirmed the figure to the Inquirer, even as he bared that the Filipino Flash will be fighting under him at least three times a year for the next three years.
“Plus we also have the option for extension, so that could be longer,” Arum said. It is the first fight for Donaire under Top Rank after a rough patch which forced him out of the ring for eight months. Arum said the 36-year-old unbeaten Narvaez will get $250,000.
The prize money is the biggest for Donaire, who reportedly got $250,000 during his last fight. But it’s still light years away from what Pacquiao. And he’s not the pay-per-view attraction that the Pacman is.
At least not yet.
Arum plans to pit Donaire will against superstar Mexican WBO super bantamweight champion Jorge Arce early next year, and by mid-year will line him up against Japanese Toshiaki Nishioka, the 33-year-old southpaw who holds the division’s WBC belt.
“This is a big fight for him especially coming to New York City, getting exposed to New York media,” said Arum during Thursday’s fight press conference held at the Gallagher Steakhouse on West 52nd street.
When it was time for Donaire to speak, the overwhelming favorite in height, age and power didn’t resort to thrash talk and instead vowed “to give it my all.”
“Narvaez is a tremendous fighter. He knows how to win,” said Donaire. “That’s why we are working very hard to be faster, stronger and better. He’s willing to go to war. I’m willing to go to war.”
Narvaez is giving away four inches to Donaire at 5-foot-3 and is in his first fight as a bantamweight after a long stint at flyweight. He said through his manager Sebastian Rivera: “It’s a good opportunity for me to get known throughout the world. To those who don’t know me, I’m in really good shape for this fight.”
The third man on the ring will be Benjie Esteves, while Julie Lederman, Steve Wisefeld and Dom Schreck will act as judges.
The presser was also attended by Melvina Latham, chair of the New York State Athletic Commission on whose auspices the 12-round title fight will be held.
“With Top Rank, HBO, and Nonito, it’s going to be a great fight,” she said.
“From his (Donaire’s) last left hook eight months ago, I can’t wait to see the next one,” said Peter Nelson, director of programming for HBO, which will air the fight live on HBO After Dark. “We are proud to have him (Donaire) as member of the HBO family.”
nelson was referencing Donaire’s second round knockout win over Fernando Montiel in February, which ended with a left hook to the head.
“I’m excited to be part of history. And to be fighting at Madison Square Garden. I want to bring boxing back to its glory days,” said the 28-year-old Donaire (26-1-0 with 18 KOs).