FORMER world champion Nonito Donaire Jr.hopes to give his career a badly needed shot in the arm as he challenges Ryan Burnett for the World Boxing Association (WBA) bantamweight crown Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland.
The 12-round fight at the SSE Hydro, which serves as quarterfinal of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS), marks the return of the 35-year-old ‘Filipino Flash’ to the 118-lb. division following an unsuccessful attempt to reign at featherweight after a unanimous decision loss to Carl Frampton in his last fight in April.
It was as a bantamweight that Donaire enjoyed success, at one time being the unified WBC (World Boxing Council) and WBO (World Boxing Organization) champion.
In Saturday’s official weigh-in, Donaire showed he was at home in the weight class, easily making the weight at 117.5 lbs.
Burnett also came in at the same weight.
“After the Frampton fight, I realized I didn’t belong in the (featherweight) division,” said Donaire in an interview with RingTV.com. “Not just physicality, but I was so small for the weight.”
A champion in four weight classes, Donaire holds a ring record of 38-5 (24 KOs). He has lost two of his last three fights though, against Frampton and Jessie Magdaleno, when he relinquished his WBO super-bantamweight title.
The unbeaten Burnett from Northern Ireland (19-0, 9 KOs) is coming off a unanimous decision win over Yonfrez Parejo last March.
The winner of the Donaire-Burnett fight will be pitted against South African Zolani Tete in the semifinals. Tete scored a 12-round unanimous decision win over Russian Mikhail Aloyan during their quarterfinal bout last Oct. 13 in Russia
Japanese Naoya Inoue and Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez are set to meet in the other semifinal match.
Inoue destroyed Juan Carlos Payano of the Dominican Republic in just a single round in Yokohama, Japan last month, while Rodriguez eked out a split 12-round decision against Australian Jason Maloney in Florida, USA two weeks ago
The winner of the two semifinals will then meet in a 12-round match to determine the world’s top bantamweight fighter.
The WBSS features the top eight rated bantamweight fighters in the world.