Following his third round knockout win over Jorge Arce -- which Arce says was the last fight of his unforgettable career -- Nonito Donaire told HBO's Larry Merchant that he's aiming for the two fighters who everyone wants to see him face in the 122-pound division: Abner Mares and Guillermo Rigondeaux.
"First off, I want to get Mares because of the fact that he's calling me out," Donaire said. "I'm going to take that. If that doesn't happen, we've always got Rigondeaux afterwards."
When asked by Larry Merchant if he would demand that Top Rank get him a fight with Mares, who is promoted by rival Golden Boy Promotions, Donaire answered, "I have already. For the past two years. I have already."
Donaire (31-1, 20 KO) took down four top ten fighters in the division this year, with convincing wins over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, Jeffrey Mathebula, Toshiaki Nishioka, and Arce, in that order. But with great success comes great demands for any pro boxer, and fight fans are hungry to see him face either Mares (25-0-1, 13 KO) or Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KO).
Both situations are tricky, though. Mares, as mentioned, is promoted by Golden Boy, and has risen to fame as a Showtime fighter. Promoter Bob Arum recently said he will not co-promote that fight with Golden Boy, nor will he allow the fight, in theory, to be televised by Showtime, calling network sports head Stephen Espinoza a "creep," and pointing out that Donaire makes bigger money than Mares does.
Arum says he's willing to pay Mares and Golden Boy a fee and promote the fight himself. We saw somewhat a similar situation recently when Top Rank promoted a fight between Vanes Martirosyan and Golden Boy's Erislandy Lara on HBO, but there's no arguing that Golden Boy has invested as much into Lara as they have Mares, who is a crown jewel in their company as their first homegrown world champion.
As for Rigondeaux, Donaire has waffled between saying he'll fight anyone and saying that Rigondeaux still needs better wins to prove himself worthy of a fight. For now, his stance is that he'll take that, if he can't get Mares, but that could change. Top Rank promotes Rigondeaux, so the fight would seem easy to make a reality.