HAD the World Boxing Super Series’ bantamweight tournament been around back in, say, 2011, there’s little doubt Nonito Donare would have been top seed and arguably the favourite to win the thing. But that was then, and this is now, and Donaire, 35, has lost two of his last three fights and hasn’t campaigned as a bantamweight in seven years.
Sod’s law, then, that an opportunity like this would present itself to the ‘Filipino Flash’ at a time when he’s not only a featherweight but also past his best.
“I’m really looking forward to the tournament,” said Donaire, 38-5 (24), who, against common sense, accepted the invitation to compete in the bantamweight tournament.
“People always asked about my goal and I said to be undisputed. With this tournament, that goal is now attainable.
“Entering the tournament gives me an opportunity to showcase my capabilities against the best in this division. This division is stacked with talent and that’s really exciting.
“I believe my size, experience and most of all my power will give me the edge over my opponents.”
Donaire certainly has size, experience and power. That’s not really in question. He also has the name and profile to make opportunities like this become feasible. And it’s this, perhaps more than the size, experience and power, that piques the interest of promoters.
But that’s all surface stuff – camouflage. What’s of greater concern – it has to be – is how a man of 35, with quite a bit of wear and tear already, is supposed to fit back inside a weight class he gleefully departed many years ago.
Boxers, lest we forget, aren’t computer game characters. You can’t just charge up a time machine, drag the Donaire of 2011 back into relevance and match him against the very best bantamweights of today: Burnett, Tete, Rodriguez, Inoue et al. No, boxing doesn’t work like that. It never has, and it never will.
Attempt to disprove this theory and it becomes a very dangerous game to play.
We don’t yet know the opponents, but we do know that WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will fight at Wembley Stadium in September of this year and April 2019.
His next fight dates were announced this morning as September 22 and April 13, and Wembley Stadium, the national stadium, will be the designated venue. That means a return to the scene of his Wladimir Klitschko victory in 2017, and it could also mean, according to Eddie Hearn, a whopping 100,000 people will be able to attend the Londoner’s date in 2019.
“I am returning to Wembley after two mega fights in Cardiff,” said Joshua, 21-0 (20). “I want to thank the supporters from Wales and Great Britain and also the people of London for patiently awaiting my return.
“Being north London born and raised, it is in my blood. The opportunity to fight in such an iconic stadium is normally a once in career opportunity, so to be given the chance to fight there again is amazing. Wembley just added a fourth lion to the den.”
Joshua’s September opponent will supposedly be announced next week. We know – or at least can assume – it will be Russia’s Alexander Povetkin, his WBA mandatory challenger.
It’s the April date, though, that really gets you thinking. That’s the fight shrouded in uncertainty. Will it be Deontay Wilder, the WBC champion, opposing Joshua in front of 100,000 British fans in a football stadium? Or, as it perhaps just as likely, will Dillian Whyte, the Joshua rival who faces Joseph Parker later this month in London, get the nod?
At this point, with Wilder and Joshua at loggerheads, and with Whyte perhaps an underdog against Parker, one’s about as likely – or unlikely – as the other. In fact, where Joshua is concerned, all we know for sure is that the next 12 months will not only be exciting but hopefully career-defining. One way or another. (Oh, yes, and that Wembley Stadium will host the drama.)