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Nonito Donaire to move to bantamweight – potential for Ryan Burnett WBSS clash?

Nonito Donaire [38(24)-5(1)] made a massive impression on Irish fight fans last month.

The Filipino future Hall of Famer won the respect and admiration of fans before, during, and after his WBO interim featherweight title defeat to Carl Frampton at the SSE Odyssey Arena in Belfast.

The 35-year-old was respectful throughout, gave some local children the experience of a lifetime at the public workout, put on an exhilarating last stand in the eleventh round, and even met fans for drinks on the Monday after the bout.

Both Frampton and Donaire spoke of the California-raised Asian appearing on ‘The Jackal’s’ big Windsor Park card on August 18th but the ‘Filipino Flash’s’ team also have plans which may put him in the frame for one of Belfast’s other superstar fighters Ryan Burnett [19(9)-0].

Donaire’s promoter Richard Schaefer has revealed that the veteran may move down two weight classes to bantamweight.

The reason for this is to potentially match Donaire with Ringstar promotional stablemate Nordine Oubaali who boxes for the vacant WBC bantamweight title in France on June 23rd.

Oubaali, beaten by Mick Conlan for Olympic bronze in 2012, fights Tassana Sanpattan for the green belt, a bout for which he is a heavy favourite, and it had been hoped that the winner would then enter the upcoming second series of the World Boxing Super Series [WBSS].

The stellar line-up for the bantamweight competition features the other three world champions – WBO champ Zolani Tete, IBF titlist Manny Rodriguez, and Belfast’s WBA champ Ryan Burnett – as well as Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue.

Schaefer seems to want to make an Oubaali v Donaire title fight outside of the WBSS – however, Donaire would be another welcome addition to a tournament which still has four vacant slots.

Donaire won the WBC and WBO bantamweight titles back in 2011, stopping Fernando Montiel in two rounds and defended the belt once versus Omar Andres Narvaez before moving up in weight for his sensational run at super bantam.

Not holding a belt at present, Donaire would be unseeded if he were to enter, potentially paving the way for a return to Belfast in September for a clash with Burnett if, hypothetically, the Antrim Road 26-year-old were to choose him in the Draft Gala this Summer.

Schaefer told Boxing News that “he [Donaire] doesn’t really belong at 126lbs, he just doesn’t have the power to hurt at 126lbs, like he does at 122 and particularly 118.”

“We actually are discussing for Nonito potentially going back down to 118 and maybe give it another run there and see where it goes.”

“One of my guys Nordine Oubaali with Ringstar France and he will be fighting for the WBC 118lbs world title against the Thai challenger – so hopefully Oubaali wins and I could maybe see Donaire challenging Oubaali for a WBC title at 118lbs in France. That’s one idea.”


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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie