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WBC makes Oubaali champion in recess, Donaire and Rodriguez to fight for the vacant 118-lb title

Nonito Donaire

By Allan Fox: The WBC has made WBC bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali ‘Champion in Recess’ after his positive test for COVID-19, and they’ve now sanctioned the December 19th fight between Nonito Donaire and Emmanuel Rodriguez for the vacant WBC 118-lb belt.

The former four-division world champion Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs) and former IBF 118lb champ Rodriguez (19-1, 12 KOs) will be fighting in less than a month on December 19th at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.

France native Oubaali tested positive for COVID-19 last October, which wiped out his title defense against WBC mandatory Donaire, 38 that he had scheduled for December 19th.

But thankfully, the WBC quickly sanctioned the Donaire vs. Rodriguez fight for the vacant 118-lb title and moved Oubaali into the ‘Champion in Recess position. Oubaali, 34, will be able to fight the winner once he returns to action in 2021 if he so chooses to do.

Donaire and Rodriguez coming off losses

One downside of Donaire and Rodriguez fighting for the vacant WBC bantamweight title is that both fighters are coming off defeats at the hands of Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue.

Nonito Donaire

Former IBF bantamweight champion Rodriguez, 28, was wiped out two rounds by ‘Monster’ Inoue in May of 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Apart from some early success in the opening round, Rodriguez hit the deck three times in round two against Inoue. Referee Michael Alexander finally halted the fight after Rodriguez went down for the third time in the round.

For his past, Donaire lost a competitive 12 round unanimous decision to Inoue last November in Japan.

Donaire came close to being stopped in the later rounds after Inoue hurt him with a body shot in the tenth. However, Donaire was able to move and survive despite being in a lot of pain. Earlier in the fight, Donaire had hurt Inoue with a hard right hand that staggered him in the eighth round.

Inoue escaped with the victory, but he suffered a cracked eye ridge, broken nose, and a bad cut. Some of the shots that Donaire missed would have likely done a lot more damage to Inoue had they landed.

Rungvisai would be a better option for Donaire

The WBC sanctioning the Donaire-Rodriguez fight for their vacant 118-pound title is a questionable move on their part, as Rodriguez is a poor option to be fighting for a world title after being knocked out in the second round in his last fight against Inoue.

It’s one thing for a fighter like Donaire to lose a competitive 12 round decision to Inoue, but to be smashed in two rounds the way Rodriguez was, it doesn’t seem right that he’s getting an immediate title shot.

What the WBC should have done is order #1 Donaire to face #2 Srisaket Sor Rungvisai for the vacant WBC 118lb title rather than Rodriguez. At least that wouldn’t be rewarding a fighter coming off of an early knockout loss like Rodriguez.


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