Nonito Donaire apparently won't be returning on Top Rank's July 14 show at Cowboys Stadium, which will be headlined by Juan Manuel Marquez, and instead may be back on July 21, according to Ronnie Nathanielsz, who spoke with Bob Arum about potential opponents.
The first name is Cristian Mijares, who was already named as the probable opponent back in February. Mijares (44-6-2, 20 KO) has a fight on Saturday against Eddy Julio (13-3-1, 11 KO), which figures to be a win for the Mexican veteran and a final tune-up for the Donaire bout, if that is still the Top Rank plan.
But if Mijares doesn't happen -- and it's never been a guarantee, and frankly I've always been a bit skeptical -- then IBF titleholder Jeffrey Mathebula (26-3-2, 14 KO) could get a look for the fight. Mathebula, 32, won the belt on March 24 from Takalani Ndlovu. It would be a title unification on paper, as Donaire won the vacant WBO belt against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr in February, so long as both the WBO and IBF approve and don't strip anyone, which they might.
Donaire (28-1, 18 KO) hasn't received particularly high marks for his last two wins over Omar Narvaez and Vazquez -- though both were credible, solid wins, the fighter's reputation for explosive knockouts didn't hold up, and since that stuff tends to get criticized when it doesn't happen every fight, he "needs" a spectacular sort of performance in the minds of some, it seems. Mathebula would be the tougher fight for sure -- he's a tall, lanky fighter, and a legitimate super bantamweight. Mijares is really a super flyweight and would have no advantages going into a bout with Donaire.
The fight will reportedly be discussed with HBO next week.