Nonito Donaire keeps talking about Guillermo Rigondeaux, which is only making people want to see that fight. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Nonito Donaire said on The Boxing Lab radio show that he doesn't want to face Guillermo Rigondeaux, since Rigondeaux makes for boring fights, which drew some pretty quick criticism. It seems Donaire has heard those critics and is attempting to clarify his position, speaking with Ryan Maquinana of CSN Bay Area and BoxingScene.com. Here's what he had to say:
"I want a fight that the fans are excited to see. I felt bad for the last fight. I don’t want that because they gave me a lot of support. A lot of people showed up, and I felt bad for the fans because as much as I tried to do whatever I can, the guy never gave it up. I’m afraid that fighting guys like that will destroy boxing. It will just ruin the fans, and just ruin my credibility."
This is perhaps mildly dramatic. First of all, not to be a jerk, there aren't enough people watching Nonito Donaire fights to "destroy boxing" if they're boring. Second of all, he won every round. No one blamed Nonito for the fight against Narvaez being bad, so the concern over his credibility is another over-the-top statement. The only criticism Donaire caught after the Narvaez fight was people noticing his technical flaws and things he could have done but didn't.
Furthermore, if Donaire and his team were looking to make only entertaining fights, why the hell did they sign a fight with Omar Narvaez in the first place?
Did Donaire, his trainer, his manager, or anyone at Top Rank scout Narvaez at all? My impression has been since they made the fight that they did not. It's not like it was a fight someone was aching to see -- Narvaez is a middle-aged guy with no fanbase outside of Argentina who fights in a boring style. What the hell did they expect?
All I'm saying is that the after-the-fact disgust over Narvaez's non-performance could have been avoided by simply not fighting him at all. He'd never even fought at bantamweight before so it's not like he was some top contender to Donaire's throne. And again, seriously: Nobody out there was asking for Donaire vs Narvaez. The last five days have had more demand for Donaire vs Rigondeaux than there ever was for the Narvaez fight.
Anyway, Donaire went on to say that he wants to face only entertaining fighters like Wilfredo Vazquez Jr (his opponent on February 4), Jorge Arce, and Toshiaki Nishioka.
[ Related: Rigondeaux Nightmare Matchup For Donaire ]
The Vazquez fight is happening, and fine, it's a 122 debut. The Nishioka fight is a fine call-out. But I don't know, I think he needs to stop harping on Arce. Everyone and their dog knows that Jorge Arce is tailor made for him and that he's taking basically no risk with that fight. Look, I understand why that fight will happen, and it's a reality I'll accept knowing that what I'm going to see has 0% chance of being boring, but it's a matchmaker's dream, so long as that matchmaker is pro-Donaire.
Donaire also said he'd like to fight Yuriorkis Gamboa, but there's a catch here, too:
"And as much as people say, ‘Oh, you’re running away,’ if I’m running away, [and] if you want a Cuban that wants to fight me, then let’s have [Yuriorkis] Gamboa. I think that’s an interesting fight. Don’t give me something that’s going to be boring for boxing. If you want a good fight, let’s get Gamboa, you know what I’m saying?"
Yes, absolutely, Gamboa vs Donaire is very interesting and we'd all love to see it. But this doesn't jibe with Donaire's claim that he's looking to dominate at 122 pounds, which will take more than two fights against Vazquez and Arce. Plus, Gamboa, who has been at 126 for his pro career, is looking to make a firm move up to 130 or even 135, and is maybe chasing a fight with Brandon Rios.
So this is kind of empty. "Yeah, I want to dominate at 122, but I don't want Rigondeaux, so how about I call out Gamboa, a fight that doesn't fit in with the rest of my plans or his?" Just sayin'.
The funniest thing is, the more Donaire talks about not wanting to fight Rigondeaux, with Rigondeaux having thrown his name into the hat after a one-sided win all of five days ago, the more Donaire is making a fight the public wants to see by appearing to be afraid of the fight, or at least giving some the impression that he is.
I'd say that maybe that's the plan, but I don't think it is. Trainer Robert Garcia has already tried to throw cold water on this fight, too. Someone in the comments earlier made the perfect suggestion, saying that Team Donaire should have said, "Sure, totally, we'd love to fight Rigondeaux later." It's not like Top Rank is going to force that issue or anything. Why look bad when you don't have to? They didn't have to avoid Rigondeaux. Top Rank would have gladly done it for them.