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WBC approves Nonito Donaire vs Alejandro Santiago for vacant bantamweight title

Nonito Donaire is coming off a knockout loss to Naoya Inoue, Alejandro Santiago a corner stoppage of Antonio Nieves

Nonito Donaire v Reymart Gaballo Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The process of rebuilding the bantamweight championship roster rolls on, as Mauricio Sulaiman tells ESPN KnockOut that the WBC has approved Nonito Donaire vs Alejandro Santiago for their vacant title.

Nawaphon Kaikanha will face Reymart Gaballo in a final eliminator to determine the winner’s inaugural defense.

Donaire (42-7, 28 KO) was originally ordered to fight Jason Moloney, who beat Nawaphon by wide decision last October. Moloney ultimately declined in favor of pursuing the WBO title, which he’s also the number-one contender for. With no. 3 Nawaphon and no. 4 Gaballo occupied and no. 5 Emmanuel Rodriguez going the IBF route, that left no. 6 Santiago (27-3-5, 14 KO) next in line.

“Peque,” a young veteran at 27, has come up just short in his biggest fights to date. He had to settle for a controversial draw in a 2018 IBF title shot against Jerwin Ancajas and dropped a majority decision to Gary Antonio Russell three years later. He’s coming off a nice stoppage of Antonio Nieves in October and should be more than happy to bring it against “The Filipino Flash.”

To recap the post-Inoue bantamweight landscape:

  • Takuma Inoue will face Liborio Solis for the WBA belt on April 8th.
  • The IBF has ordered the aforementioned Rodriguez to fight Vincent Astrolabio, the latter of whom recently burst onto the international stage with an upset of Guillermo Rigondeaux.
  • Moloney, Astrolabio, and Rodriguez are the top three WBO contenders, followed by Gaballo. If Astrolabio elects to fight Rodriguez and Gaballo goes the WBC route, Melvin Lopez would be next in line.

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