WBO super bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire has released a statement to MaxBoxing.com that expresses his intent to require mandatory enhanced drug testing for all future opponents. The 2012 'Fighter of the Year' is the first to voluntarily adhere to 24/7/365 random blood and urine testing administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) in his quest to ensure a sport free of performance enhancing drugs. Up to this point, Donaire did not require his opponents to undergo VADA testing, but the recent developments in the boxing industry have prompted the three-division champion to flex his pound-for-pound muscle on this subject.
It appears WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux is the catalyst for Donaire's announcement. Rigondeaux, who has been clamoring for a unification fight with the Filipino for the past year, was finally granted the opportunity to face Donaire in what is expected to be a competitive battle between two talented fighters with different strengths and skill-sets.
Donaire, a strong and speedy power puncher, has been criticized for selecting somewhat safe opposition as he worked his way through the super bantamweight division last year. Rigondeaux, a slick boxer who is a two-time Olympic Gold medalist and seven-time Cuban national champion, was consistently passed over for fighters such as little known IBF titlist Jeffrey Mathebula and aged former champions Toshiaki Nishioka and Jorge Arce.
Although assured by Top Rank chief Bob Arum that he would get a shot at Donaire on April 13, Rigondeaux was placed on ice while Golden Boy Promotions publicly attempted to lure Donaire into a unification bout with WBC champion Abner Mares by offering Top Rank $3 million. Meanwhile, former flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan was also waiting in the wings as a potential opponent in what would be a rematch of a July 2007 bout when he lost his title to Donaire by fifth round TKO.
In the interim, Rigondeaux hired acclaimed trainer Pedro Diaz due to the anticipation of a future big fight with Donaire and was expected to be ready to go whenever he got the green light after the Mares offer was rejected. However, the Cuban defector required all pending legal matters between promotional companies Top Rank and Caribe Promotions be resolved before he entered into an agreement to fight. Given the previous complications involving this issue, which almost led to the cancelation of his September 2012 fight with Robert Marroquin, this request did not seem unreasonable.
Following some delay to sign the contract, rumblings then surfaced from Team Donaire that Rigondeaux was reluctant to agree to enhanced random testing, something he had previously expressed willingness to do, and he failed to sign the related paperwork prior to last Thursday's press conference. Team Rigondeaux countered that the paperwork could not be completed since the fighter's exact whereabouts during training camp were unknown at that time and has since been provided to VADA.
Given all of these issues, the April 13 fight, which is to be held at New York City's Radio City Music Hall, has been in jeopardy ever since it was announced. As one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in boxing, Donaire's decision to mandate random testing as a condition of all future fights does not come as a surprise. It is unfortunate that this aspect of the Rigondeaux negotiations did not go as smoothly as expected, leading many to question the Cuban's authenticity with respect to this point. The PED allegations involving fellow Cuban Olympian and Miami resident Yuriorkis Gamboa may also be casting a shadow in this particular instance.
Tags: Bob Arum, Boxing, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Nonito Donaire, Yuriorkis Gamboa