Nonito Donaire: Bantamweight tourney didn’t make sense (or dollars)


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Two-time world champion Nonito Donaire of the Philippines won’t be participating in Showtime’s upcoming bantamweight tournament because his promoter despised a six-fighter format and because it didn’t offer enough financially, Donaire and his closest advisors told The Times on Monday.

Appearing at a downtown news conference to promote Donaire’s bantamweight debut against Ukraine’s Wladimiro Sidorenko on Dec. 4 at Anaheim’s Honda Center on a card to be headlined by a middleweight bout between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Alfonso Gomez, the Filipino fighter said while his boxing instinct drew him to the tournament, common sense kept him out.


Instead, Donaire’s promoter, Bob Arum, announced Monday that he’ll match Donaire against Fernando Montiel in an HBO bout on Feb. 19, assuming both win later this year.

‘I was the first guy they asked to be in that tournament,’ Donaire said of the Showtime challenge that will proceed as a four-fighter tourney pitting Yonnhy Perez against Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares against Vic Darchinyan on Dec. 11 in Mexico. ‘It wasn’t my decision to make. I was a bit upset [not being in it], but now that they’ve got me [a fight against] Montiel, I’m happy.’

Donaire’s manager, Cameron Dunkin, said Donaire will earn $300,000 for the Dec. 4 bout, but was only in line to get $150,000 in the first round of the bantamweight tournament.

‘Now, I can get Montiel (43-2, 33 KOs) and the tournament winner can fight whoever wins our fight,’ Donaire said.

Added Dunkin: ‘I look for Mares to win that tournament, and we’ll get them together.’

That’s quite a statement considering the animosity between Donaire’s promoter, Top Rank, and Mares’ promoter, Golden Boy, but Dunkin, who represents fighters in both stables, said he’s confident that ‘we’ll get them together.’

Meanwhile, Top Rank’s Arum is finally bringing his fighters back to California after vowing not to do so last year when the state athletic commission revoked the license of former world welterweight champion Antonio Margarito for nearly taking hand wraps loaded with plaster-caked inserts into the ring. The state kept Margarito’s license revoked earlier this year, but Texas licensed the Top Rank boxer for a major Nov. 13 fight outside Dallas against Manny Pacquiao.

‘Once we got him a full license in Texas, I fulfilled my obligation and that issue with California became irrelevant,’ Arum explained. Chavez Jr. (41-0-1) will look to continue the momentum of the credibility boost he’s received by joining famed trainer Freddie Roach and then handing John Duddy his first loss earlier this year.

‘I don’t think I’m ever going to prove I’m better than my dad, but these are the steps you have to take, beat the fighters that people recognize,’ Chavez Jr. said, noting Gomez’s notoriety connected to his fights on ‘The Contender’ reality television series. ‘If I beat more of these guys, I’ll get to the next level.’

The ‘next level’ is expected to be a shot at super-welterweight world champion Miguel Cotto next year.

The Anaheim card ($44.95 on pay-per-view, with arena tickets -- $30-$200 -- going on sale Friday at 10 a.m.) also boasts a WBC lightweight title fight between champion Humberto Soto and Maywood’s Urbano Antillon. Continuing the theme of greater things ahead, Oxnard’s unbeaten Brandon Rios will get a shot at the winner if he beats Mexico’s Noe Bolanos at Honda Center.

In other boxing developments, Dunkin said his previously imprisoned but talented middleweight James Kirkland will return to the ring Dec. 11 on the undercard of Amir Khan-Marcos Maidana in Las Vegas.

Dunkin said he’s heard ‘whispers’ the anticipated world junior-welterweight bout between his fighter Timothy Bradley of Palm Springs and Devon Alexander will be in Las Vegas in late January.

And Dunkin touts that one of the sport’s top prospects, Coachella’s Randy Caballero (4-0 with four first-round knockouts) will be on display Oct. 15 at a Golden Boy card at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio.


--Lance Pugmire