CEBU CITY – It only took Nonito Donaire Jr. less than nine minutes to prove he’s still a force to be reckoned with in the super-bantamweight division.
Now he’s calling on all comers who are out to dispute that claim.
“I’m gonna say this: The best out there,” said the 33-year-old Filipino as he ponders on what’s next for him moments after demolishing Zsolt Bedak of Hungary inside three rounds to retain his World Boxing Organization (WBO) title belt before a roaring crowd of more than 20,000 at the Cebu City Sports Complex.
“If it is (Carl) Frampton, if it is (Guillermo) Rigondeaux, against anybody,” stressed the champion, who once reigned as a unified champion at the junior featherweight division. “If they feel they’re better than me, come inside the ring. I’m waiting for them.”
Frampton, 29, is the current holder of the International Boxing Federation (IBF) 122-lb. belt from Northern Ireland, while Rigondeaux, 35, is the former unified WBO and World Boxing Association (WBA) champion, who dealt Donaire a 12-round unanimous decision loss in 2013.
Doanire’s short work on the 32-year-old Bedak on Saturday night though, gave him enough confidence that he can handle either of the two men.
“It doesn’t matter. Bisaya ako, Filipino ako. Hindi ako natatakot kahit sino ang kalaban ko,” said the Filipino Flash, who raised his record to 37-3, with 24 KOs.
But there’s one hitch standing in the way. Frampton and Rigondeaux belonged to rival promotional outfits, which have standing issues with Donaire’s promoter Top Rank.
Frampton is with Golden Boy Promotions, while Rigondeaux is being handled by Rock Nation.
Donaire is easily reminded of the same situation he found himself in when a highly-anticipated marquee fight between him and former World Boxing Council (WBC) super-bantamweight crown Abner Mares was being eyed.
Nothing ever came out of it as Mares was with Golden Boy and Donaire with Top Rank. The 30-year-old Mexican has since moved up to featherweight.
“As much as both of us (Mares) wanted to fight each other, it never happened because of the promoters,” recalled Donaire. “This time it’s the same situation with Rigo and the same situation as Frampton.
“But I’m willing to fight them. I want to fight them.”