Promoter Bob Arum has no doubt heard the chatter in boxing fan and media circles around a potential 2012 fight between top featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa and top bantamweight Nonito Donaire, and speaking with Keith Idec of BoxingScene.com, the veteran promoter added fuel to that fire by saying it's something he wants to do next year:
"The big fights for Gamboa down the road are the winner of Juan Manuel Lopez and Salido. I hope to make that fight [the Salido-Lopez rematch] early next year. And then, probably the biggest fight in the featherweight division [for Gamboa] will be with the up-and-coming bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire, who will be moving up to featherweight next year. That should be a big, big match."
I know Arum has been criticized, as have other promoters, for letting fights "marinate" too long, but one thing we did note earlier this year was that just because Juan Manuel Lopez had lost to Orlando Salido and further delayed a possible big fight with Gamboa, that didn't mean that fight couldn't happen, and that it couldn't still be a big deal.
If Lopez were to beat Orlando Salido in an early 2012 rematch, and Gamboa keeps winning, that's still a big fight, and a really good fight. It's not what it might have been envisioned as being before, but still quite good.
And then you'd have Donaire, who will be going from bantamweight to featherweight by all accounts, probably skipping the super bantamweight division, unless it's a one-stop to fight the winner of the October 1 fight between Toshiaki Nishioka and Rafael Marquez, or something like a fight with Jorge Arce. The intention is clear: Donaire, who is a huge bantamweight and was an enormous flyweight, is ultimately headed to featherweight next year unless he stalls his career again. And Arum is at least saying that yes, Gamboa vs Donaire is in the future plans.
Of course, he said that about Gamboa vs Lopez several times, kept putting it off, and wound up with Lopez getting hammered by Salido in Puerto Rico.
I do love the Gamboa vs Donaire fight on paper. It's hyper-explosive in terms of styles, and I don't worry about Nonito moving up and losing effectiveness. He's got the type of body that will allow him to travel up to lightweight in time, I believe, and he already looks like a featherweight on fight night anyway. He's too big and too good for even solid or better bantamweights, and there's nobody at 122 I'd pick to be very competitive with him, either. I realize I'm talking up Donaire something fierce here, but I truly feel he has phenom-type talent. He's a really special fighter, and when Gamboa turns that light switch on, he is, too. There aren't many guys who can match speed with accuracy and power the way those two do.
Next Fights: Gamboa (20-0, 16 KO) faces Daniel Ponce de Leon on September 10 (HBO). Donaire (26-1, 18 KO) faces Omar Narvaez on October 22 (HBO). Lopez (30-1, 27 KO) faces Mike Oliver on October 1 in Puerto Rico. Salido (36-11-2, 24 KO) is likely to fight again before the end of the year.