By Chris Williams: WBO super bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24 KOs) could be fighting his #1 WBO mandatory challenger Jessie Magdaleno (23-0, 17 KOs) on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas card on November 5 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This would be a big deal if the 33-year-old Donaire were to fight on the Pacquiao vs. Vargas card, because it would increase interest in the card with some boxing fans. Top Rank needs to beef up the Pacquiao-Vargas card in the worst way because it’s not a fight that will likely attract much interest from the boxing fans to purchase it on pay-per-view.
In addition to Donaire-Magdaleno possibly being added to Pacquiao;’s card. There’s also could of other big fights on the card as well being talked about.
Donaire won the vacant World Boxing Organization 122lb title last year in a hard fought 12 round unanimous decision win over Cesar Juarez in December 2015. It wasn’t a great performance from Donaire, but he got the win. Since then, Donaire has beaten Zsolt Bedak by a 3rd round knockout last April in his first defense.
“We were negotiating the deal [on Wednesday],” Cameron Dunkin, Donaire’s manager, said to ESPN.com. “With Nonito, I’d like to get him big names and big fights, but that’s not possible right now, so he has to keep defending his title and do this mandatory. We’re real close and trying to settle on a few things. We’re going to try to get it wrapped up and be done in the next couple of days.”
Having Donaire on one of Pacquiao’s undercards is a long overdue situation, because there has been interest from fans for many years to have the two Filipino fighters on the same card. For some reason, Top Rank never combined them together to create a blockbuster card. It’s unfortunate that Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has waited until now to put Donaire and Pacquiao on the same card.
It’s kind of late in the game for both, and it might not bring the same kind of attention that it would have had the two of them been put on the same card back in 2012. Donaire’s career went downhill in 2013, when he was beaten by Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Donaire was then stopped in the 6th round by Nicholas Walters in October 2014 in an ill-advised move up to the featherweight division. Donaire is now just a champion at 122, but not the champion. For Donaire to be the main guy at super bantamweight, he’ll need to beat Rigondeaux and Scott Quigg. Those are the two best fighters in the 122lb division now that Carl Frampton has moved up in weight.
“This will be really fun,” Dunkin said. “I think it should have happened sooner, but it’s OK. I think the Filipino people will be really excited and happy for this. It’s terrific.”
Even with Donaire on the card, it’s unlikely that the Pacquiao vs. Vargas fight will bring in a lot of PPV buys. Donaire will certainly help attract some interest from boxing fans, but as Arum has pointed out in the past, fans don’t purchase PPV cards based on the undercard fights. They purchase them to see a main event between two fighters that they’re interested in seeing.
Pacquiao is still someone that fans want to see, but it’s doubtful that fans will be interested in seeing Jessie Vargas as his opponent. Donaire is a popular fighter to some extent within a segment of the U.S society, but his opponent Magdaleno isn’t well known among the casual fans of the sport. The fans have probably never heard of Magdaleno before. The fans aren’t going to be really excited at seeing Donaire fight a guy that few have ever seen before.
Donaire was voted ‘Fighter of the Year’ back in 2012 after beating Jorge Arce, Toshiaki Nishioka, Jeffrey Mathebula and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. That was the high point of Donaire’s career. If Donaire could have kept fighting at that level, he would be a huge star right now. The problem that Donaire had was he was never the best fighter in the 122lb division. Rigondeaux was better than him, and as soon as Donaire finally agreed to fight him, he lost. It wasn’t even close. Donaire was exposed badly in that fight, and he’s never been able to regain the popularity that he had previously.