Donaire-Inoue rematch in April ‘really close,’ says Arum
MANILA, Philippines—Top Rank CEO Bob Arum feels a rematch between bantamweight champions Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire could happen in April in Japan.
Arum and the other parties, however, would first need to hurdle the strict travel restrictions that the Japanese government implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“I think that’s really close,” said Arum in an interview with the 3 Knockdown Rule. “But from what we understand, April we’ll be in all clear.”
Japan closed its borders in late 2021 after the Omicron variant of COVID-19 caused massive spikes in the number of infections in the country. This is also put a stop to Jerwin Ancajas and Kazuto Ioka’s super flyweight unification fight on New Year’s Eve.
From cases consistently hovering at the low hundreds, Japan experienced a massive surge in in early 2022 peaking on February 8 when the country recorded 101,084 new cases.
Arum said the ball is on the Japanese government’s court if a fight between Inoue, the holder of the IBF, WBA, and Ring Magazine titles, and WBC champion Donaire will happen in their country.
He added that Japanese promoters Hideyuki Ohashi and Akihiko Honda won’t have to do much work to get the fight approved.
“Everything depends on not Donaire, not Inoue, not Ohashi and Honda but on the Japanese government lifting the restrictions on events and so-forth,” said Arum.
Inoue beat Donaire via unanimous decision in an instant classic in November 19 with the match earning Fight of the Year honors.
Despite his losing effort, Donaire was praised for his performance as he went toe-to-toe with the dangerous Inoue.
Donaire, after his loss to Inoue, has since won two straight matches knocking out Nordine Oubaali in the fourth round of their May 2021 fight to win the WBC title.
The 39-year-old then knocked out fellow Filipino Reymart Gaballo in the same round to retain the belt.