Nonito Donaire's August 15 pay-per-view fight with former 108-pound champion Hugo Cazares has fallen through, and Donaire will now face Rafael Concepcion that night in Las Vegas. San Francisco Examiner boxing writer Colin Seymour says that talks with both Cazares and Jose Lopez failed, and that promoter Bob Arum says Concecpion was "the best [they] could do."
Concecpcion (13-3-1, 8 KO) held the interim WBA title at 115 pounds last year after upsetting Pinoy prospect AJ Banal with a 10th round knockout in July, then less than two months later went to Mexico to defend against Jorge Arce, a hell of a tough war that Arce won when Concepcion retired after nine rounds of back-and-forth slugging.
He's better than his record, though Nonito Donaire has already noted that he is shorter than he expected. Donaire, moving up from 112 pounds, is listed at 5'6", while Concepcion is listed at 5'4" and that might be a bit of an overstatement. Concepcion also hasn't made 115 pounds since the Arce fight, though he's fought twice since then. He weighed 127 pounds for a fight with a tomato can in November, and 120 for a fight against Kermin Guardi in February.
The fight has also stirred up some folks in boxing, notably handlers of Concepcion's planned opponent for September 6, up-and-coming Filipino Drian Francisco (17-0-1, 13 KO). Concepcion opted to breach his contract and take the Donaire fight, but it sounds like Top Rank is willing to reimburse everyone involved with that card for money spent promoting the fight, and for airfare to and from the Philippines as well. Donaire being a fellow Filipino also helped, according to the event's managers.
Donaire-Concepcion is a pretty safe bet for a Donaire win, a fairly easy move up to 115, but not a lot different than the proposed Donaire-Cazares bout, which I found mildly interesting but also sort of transparent. Cazares really doesn't belong at the weight, and power, speed and youth were probably all on Donaire's side. Against Concepcion, he's taking on a guy who can take some punishment, but I also think Donaire will get him out of there in the middle rounds. Concepcion isn't a big banger and isn't particularly fast, so I expect him to really struggle to keep up with Donaire offensively and defensively.