34-year-old junior featherweight Nonito Donaire has just signed a multi-fight deal with Richard Schaefer’s Ringstar Sports, as reported by ESPN. The former four-division titlist split ways with former promoter Top Rank earlier this year, shortly after suffering a unanimous decision loss to Jessie Magdaleno last November.
Following the loss of his world title to Magdaleno, Donaire had hoped to land a rematch, but that was a no-go, which ultimately prompted Donaire to request his release from Top Rank a little early — a request which was granted by the promotional company. Now Donaire says signing with Schaefer was the best option out there for him.
"Exploring what was out there in the new landscape of boxing was unnerving and exciting at the same time," Donaire said. "I have known Richard for many years and have always respected what he has been able to do for the fighters he promotes. At this point in my career I want the biggest fights possible and Richard's track record to deliver them speaks for itself."
Schaefer, who has been on the hunt for talent since getting back into the promotion business, says the signing of Donaire was an easy decision for him as he believes he’s still one entertaining fighters out there.
"I think Nonito is one of those can't-miss fighters who always knows how to entertain the crowd," Schaefer said. "He's one of those guys who is never in a bad fight. I am very excited to get involved with him at this point of his career. I think there are some big fights ahead for him."
Now aligned with Ringstar, Donaire is looking to go back to the featherweight division with his first fight targeted to be a tune-up that will likely be held on September 23 or in early October on a WBSS undercard. Schaefer believes he can soon get Donaire back into a big fight at the featherweight division, potentially against someone like Carl Frampton, Lee Selby, Leo Santa Cruz, or Abner Mares.
But as enthusiastic as both Donaire and Schaefer are about those potential fights, Donaire’s career trajectory has been undoubtedly shaky since getting schooled by Guillermo Rigondeaux back in 2013. He bounced back after that loss to win two straight, to only then take a real beating at the hands of Nicholas Walters in late 2014.
Donaire took a few softer touches to get back in the groove of things, dropping back down to junior featherweight following the Walters knockout loss, and won a vacant world title, but then lost that title to Magdaleno last fall. Donaire clearly isn’t the fighter he used to be, and there have been questions about whether his heart is still in this fight game, but he’s looking to make one more push before the clock runs out on his career.