More than a year after his destructive knockout loss to Naoya Inoue, Nonito Donaire;s ring return is finally on the schedule. Showtime announced yesterday that “The Filipino Flash” will face Alexandro Santiago for the vacant WBC bantamweight title in the co-feature of Frank Martin vs Artem Harutyunyan on July 15th.
The WBC first ordered the bout back in February as part of the division’s rebuilding efforts following Inoue’s exit. Donaire (42-7, 28) first got the call to fight Jason Moloney, who instead defeated one of Donaire’s countrymen in Vincent Astrolabio for the WBO belt. This opened the door for no. 6 Santiago (27-3-5, 14 KO), last seen putting Antonio Nieves away via corner stoppage on the Paul-Silva PPV.
Donaire turns 41 in November, and while there’s no shame whatsoever in losing to Inoue, it’s an open question whether his career renaissance still has anything left in the tank. Santiago’s a solid operator whose only loss since 2014 came via narrow decision against Gary Antonio Russell, so Donaire will need to be on his game if he wants to recapture the belt.