Nonito Donaire is likely to be back in the ring on March 3, says Steve Kim, and everything rumored before is now expected. Donaire, moving up from bantamweight, would face Wilfredo Vazquez Jr in New York City for the vacant WBO super bantamweight title.
The title is vacant because Jorge Arce, who upset Vazquez to win the belt on May 7, gave it up in order to move down to bantamweight and chase a fourth title. He successfully won the vacant WBO bantamweight belt on November 26, defeating Angky Angkotta in Mexico.
[ Related: Arce Vacates Belt, Donaire vs Vazquez Expected ]
Donaire (27-1, 18 KO) made his New York debut on October 22 in a disappointing fight against top super flyweight Omar Narvaez. As Narvaez was able to effectively neuter the explosive offense of Donaire -- though Narvaez did nothing else -- the fight wasn't much to look at, so to speak.
But Vazquez (21-1-1, 18 KO) is not Narvaez. He is an exciting fighter with a good punch, plus he's Puerto Rican with a famous fighting father, so he would be counted on to bring in most of the fans for this one. Whether they go to Madison Square Garden or not isn't known, but if Vazquez can bring in the Puerto Rican fans, the smaller Theater at Madison Square Garden (which holds about 5,000 for boxing) may not be big enough.
As for U.S. television, it's a real possibility that Top Rank goes independent with a pay-per-view for this show. HBO has put Donaire into the main event in his last two outings, which was pretty much unprecedented for the network with a fighter in Donaire's weight class at 118.
If Top Rank feels there's a viable market on PPV for this fight, which wouldn't have to be a lot of buys, they may see more money in the fight going that route instead of HBO. And if they can put together a strong undercard and not charge a totally absurd price, I'm sure it will be enticing. I see no way that Donaire vs Vazquez is a bad fight, and am very interested to see how Nonito fares against someone a little bit bigger. Donaire will still have the height advantage, as Vazquez is only about 5'5½", but Donaire is on a run of fighting some really, really small guys.
If the fight does come off, Jorge Arce is expected to face the winner later in 2012, as his plan has been to give up the belt here, win a title at 118, let it get sorted out between these two, and then come back to reclaim the title.