Lem Satterfield of FanHouse reports that Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is working hard on a winter fight between Fernando Montiel and Nonito Donaire, with several ideas for where to put the fight. Arum says he'd prefer to sell the fight alone to HBO or Showtime, but would be willing to have it as a great co-feature to the December 4 Top Rank pay-per-view main event between Miguel Cotto and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
"I think that it's one of the two most attractive fights in boxing. We're talking to various people about it, and particularly HBO, and that's the showdown between Montiel and Donaire. That's one of the biggest fights. ... If we can't get Montiel and Donaire on an independent network, we would still look to do it on the undercard [of Cotto-Chavez]. But we would prefer to get it on an independent network because it would be bigger exposure for the two fighters."
Many fans would probably be surprised to have HBO show serious interest in the fight as a headlining bout, or even as a co-feature, because of HBO's long-standing history of all but ignoring the divisions below 126 pounds, having very rarely featured fighters from the smaller weight classes, even when there have been good fights on undercards of shows they were airing. One that springs to mind is Ivan Calderon-Rodel Mayol, which was on the Cotto-Clottey undercard in June 2009. It was a good fight for the legitimate championship at 108 pounds, but HBO showed no interest and the bout wound up not airing on TV.
On the other hand, it's possible that Showtime may be miffed about both fighters turning down the chance to compete in their upcoming bantamweight tournament. Their proposal of what would have been a phenomenal Super Six tournament at 118 pounds has turned into a four-man setup with Yonnhy Perez, Abner Mares, Joseph Agbeko and Vic Darchinyan, which is nothing to sneeze at, but it could have been truly amazing had Montiel and Donaire been included as well. But Montiel flat-out refused to enter the tournament, as he feels he'll make more money without it. A possible rematch with Hozumi Hasegawa could be next if Montiel beats Donaire, which would be big money. And Donaire wouldn't enter without Montiel, according to Arum.
There's also the chance that HBO would snap this fight up not so much because it's a good fight -- and it's a very, very good fight on paper that could be truly explosive -- but to, in a way, counter Showtime's bantamweight features. When Showtime got the Super Six going, HBO suddenly became highly interested in Lucian Bute and are now pushing him as one of the feature stars of their boxing programming, going so far as to pay for what was, to be honest, an uninteresting fight between Bute and one-dimensional, long-exposed Edison Miranda earlier this year, doing a split-site broadcast of that fight with the Kelly Pavlik-Sergio Martinez middleweight championship fight. They brought Bute over in November of last year for his rematch with Librado Andrade. The first Bute-Andrade fight, of course, aired on Showtime, and there's always been reluctance between the networks to "take" rematches from one another. But HBO seemingly decided to counter the buzz around the Super Six by pushing Bute heavily as the best super middleweight in the world, and they could do something similar with Montiel-Donaire as a counter to Showtime's bantamweight tournament.
One way or another, though, let's just hope this fight gets made. Donaire really needs a big fight, as he hasn't had one since upsetting Darchinyan in 2007, and his last two bouts have been farces, with the most recent (against Hernan Marquez) coming off like a glorified sparring session as Donaire "experimented" with a southpaw stance, and easily put Marquez away when he went back to his natural orthodox style. Montiel just deserves TV exposure that he hasn't gotten much of in his career, as he can be a very exciting fighter who can end a bout at any time. It's a great fight for both of them.