The Filipino fighter will step down two weight divisions and enter the big-money, eight-fighter bantamweight tournament which boasts a reported top prize of $4,000,000.
Donaire last fought in April, losing a wide points decision to Carl Frampton in Belfast for the WBO interim featherweight title.
The double move down in weight, which has been questioned and criticised by many, was mooted by 35-year-old Donaire himself and promoter Richard Schaefer following the defeat to ‘The Jackal’ at the SSE Odyssey Arena.
‘The Filipino Flash’ last fought at bantamweight way back in 2011, rising to super bantamweight for the best run of his career before yo-yoing between this class and featherweight.
Donaire said that “I’m really looking forward to the tournament. People always asked about my goal and I said to be undisputed. With this tournament, that goal is now attainable.”
“Entering the tournament gives me an opportunity to showcase my capabilities against the best in this division. This division is stacked with talent and that’s really exciting!”
“I believe my size, experience and most of all my power will give me the edge over my opponents.”
Donaire, and Frampton, had spoken of a desire to fight on the big Windsor Park bill in August – such was the extent to which Irish fight fans fell in love with the California-based Asian. Now, assuming he is unseeded, Donaire would look to be the perfect quarter-final opponent for another North Belfast fighter in Ryan Burnett [19(9)-0].
However, doubt has been cast over the WBA champion’s participation in the tournament in recent days.
Burnett, part of the initial announcement alongside WBO champ Zolani Tete and IBF titlist Manny Rodriguez, was left off a recent press release from the WBSS while subsequent releases to confirm IBF mandatory Jason Moloney and Donaire, oddly, featured no mention of any other fighters in the tournament.
Enquiries have been made to both the tournament organisers and to Burnett’s team but a response is still awaited.
Today, tournament boxing organiser Kalle Sauerland was interviewed by IFL TV and, when asked to list the confirmed fighters for next season, there is a notable cut in the footage and no discussion of the bantamweights.
Should Burnett remain in the competition it would leave one more spot to fill – assuming that Japanese two-weight world champion Naoya Inoue and Russian former amateur star Misha Aloyan are both in as has been reported widely.
Confirmation of Burnett’s status and the full line-up is expected over the next few days ahead of the Draft Gala in Moscow on Sunday July 22nd – which comes the day after the Season One cruiserweight final between Murat Gassiev and Oleksandr Usyk in the same city.
The other Season One final features WBA super middleweight champion George Groves and Callum Smith and will take place later this Summer.
Season Two will feature three weights – bantamweight, light welterweight, and another to-be-announced class which is believed to be super middleweight again.