Donaire, 35, hasn’t fought in the 118-pound division in seven years or since he outpointed Argentina’s Omar Narvaez to retain his WBC/WBO bantamweight unified championship at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 2011. He was in devastating form as a bantamweight in mowing down Fernando Montiel in two rounds and Volodymyr Sydorenko in four. Boy Santos
MANILA, Philippines — Former five-time world boxing champion Nonito Donaire, Jr. is chasing a new dream to become the undisputed bantamweight titleholder with his inclusion in the eight-man Super Series, a knockout tournament where the ultimate prize is a $10 Million reward.
Donaire, 35, hasn’t fought in the 118-pound division in seven years or since he outpointed Argentina’s Omar Narvaez to retain his WBC/WBO bantamweight unified championship at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 2011. He was in devastating form as a bantamweight in mowing down Fernando Montiel in two rounds and Volodymyr Sydorenko in four.
After losing to Carl Frampton on points for the interim WBO featherweight crown in Belfast last April, Donaire decided to drop down two weight classes to regain his optimum power. “It’s no problem going down to 118,” said Donaire. “I’m walking around at 128-129. When I start training, it shouldn’t be difficult to go back to bantamweight. Since the Frampton fight, the opportunity opened up to participate in the Super Series and it’s a blessing.”
In 2017, event company Comosa AG launched the World Boxing Super Series in an attempt to unify the championships in the cruiserweight and supermiddleweight divisions. Ringstar CEO Richard Shaefer, who is now Donaire’s promoter, is involved in the project with Comosa CEO Roberto Dalmiglio. Comosa will now try to unify the titles in the bantamweight and lightwelterweight classes.
Donaire will fly to Moscow on July 17 to attend the draw for the second season of the Super Series. The draw will determine the matchups, brackets and schedules of the eliminations leading to the final where the Muhammad Ali Trophy awaits the survivor. The Super Series format doesn’t allow a draw so a fourth judge is designated to break any possible tie.
“I’m excited to do this,” said Donaire. “I’m grateful to Richard for making me a part of this Super Series. The format is simple – it’s one loss and you’re out. So you’ve got to keep winning. There’s a guaranteed purse for every fight. The top bantamweights of the world are participating so in the end, the winner will be the undisputed champion.”
So far, seven of the eight fighters in the Super Series have been named. They are Donaire, WBO ruler Zolani Tete of South Africa, WBA regular champion Naoya Inoue of Japan, IBF titleholder Emmanuel Rodriguez of Puerto Rico, WBA “super” king Ryan Burnett of Northern Ireland, Jason Moloney of Australia and Juan Carlos Payano of the Dominican Republic. Tete, 30, has a 27-3 record, with 21 KOs. Inoue, 25, is unbeaten with a 16-0 mark, including 14 KOs. Rodriguez, 25, is also undefeated with an 18-0 slate, including 12 KOs. Burnett, 26, is another unbeaten fighter with a 19-0 card, including nine KOs. Moloney, 27, is the fourth undefeated contender with a 17-0 tally, including 14 KOs. Payano, 34, has a 20-1 record, with nine KOs. Donaire is the most experienced fighter in the cast with a 38-5 mark, including 24 KOs.