By Dennis Principe
The world title defense of Filipino champion Nonito Donaire is a go and will happen on April 19 at the Araneta Coliseum. This was confirmed by Solar Sports vice-president for sales and marketing Jude Turcuato who belied a recent report stating that the fight “is finally off.” Turcuato told this writer, “The sponsors are being true to their word that they will put in money if we hold it in April.” He said the original plan was to stage the card on March 22 but their sponsors asked for a postponement as their next advertising budget is already set for the second quarter of the year. “I don’t see any problem at this point. We had dinner with Jun (Donaire) last night and he gave us his word that he’ll fight. Bob (Arum of Top Rank) also understands the situation,” said Turcuato.
Solar Sports, the country’s top cable sporting network, will bankroll the historic card in cooperation with Arum’s Top Rank Inc who recently signed Donaire to a multi-fight promotional deal.
Donaire will stake his International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight crown against Mexican Raul Martinez in a 12-round encounter.
Also seeing action is former world champion Brian “The Hawaiian Punch” Viloria who will battle reigning IBF light flyweight champion Ulisses Solis of Mexico. The twin world title fights, if it finally pushes through, will be the fist ever double-world championship to be staged in the country.
Should Donaire keep his belt and Viloria grabs the light flyweight strap from Solis, it will be extra momentous for Philippine boxing, particularly for legendary champion Dodie Boy Penalosa. The polio-stricken Penalosa became the first ever Filipino to win two world titles in two different divisions and both crowns are the same belts now proudly worn by Donaire and Solis. Incidentally, Penalosa has been helping Donaire in training since setting up camp last month in Baguio City.