NONITO Donaire Jr. hopes to become world champion again by year’s end.
The 12-round fight between the Filipino and Cesar Juarez of Mexico will now be for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) super-bantamweight title belt that was stripped from former champion Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba.
WBO president Paco Valcárcel made the announcement during Wednesday’s scheduled press conference (Thursday, Manila time) for the fight card headlined by the lightweight clash between former Olympian Felix Verdejo and Josenilson Dos Santos at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Donaire, who went back to super-bantamweight following a knockout loss to Nicholas Walters in their featherweight title match last year, knows the significance of the task at hand as he bids to regain his lofty standing as one of boxing’s elite fighters.
“My opponent is a tough guy and he is hungry like a wolf,” said the ‘Filipino Flash’ of Juarez, holder of a 17-3 record with 13 KOs. “My job is to beat the wolf.”
The 33-year-old Donaire (35-3, 23 KOs) has won his last two fights since Walters destroyed him in six rounds in their World Boxing Association (WBA) title match.
He last fought in July at the Venetian in Macau, where he scored a second-round technical knockout of Anthony Settoul.
But Donaire, who has won titles as a flyweight, bantamweight, super-bantamweight, and featherweight, knows he’ll have his hands full against Juarez.
“He’s actually ranked higher than me. He is No. 1 and I am No. 2,” Donaire noted.
The native of Taliban, Bohol though, said he’s always been comfortable fighting at 122-lbs., a division he has dominated early on until running smack into the unbeaten but boring Rigondeaux to yield his title belts.
“I feel like I am 21 again. My speed has increased. I can feel my power is much stronger. My happiness is back. I had a great camp,” he said.
“But I must know what must be done. I must win.”