Once prominent champion Nonito Donaire will look to get back into the limelight this weekend, as the former pound-for-pound ranked fighter takes on Cesar Juarez. Also, an opponent has been picked for heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder’s next fight. We’ll get to both topics, in this week’s Around the Ring.
Nonito Donaire vs. Cesar Juarez
Former four-division world champion Donaire will have a chance to re-capture the featherweight title Friday night when he takes on Cesar Juarez in a fight for the vacant WBO bantamweight title at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Donaire (35-3, 23 KOs), has been on a rebuild of his career following losses to Nicholas Walters and Guillermo Rigondeaux. Donaire has won his last two fights against Anthony Settoul and William Prado since being stopped in the sixth round by Walters last year.
“When I was down on the canvas in the Walters fight I thought to myself, ’this is a blessing,’” Donaire said this week to SecondsOut.com. “It was a blessing because I had lost my way, not giving boxing the respect it deserves. I was searching for something. I was unsatisfied. I went home and re-dedicated myself to the sport. I worked harder in the gym.”
Donaire was once considered one of the best fighters in all of boxing, having captured championships at flyweight, bantamweight, super bantamweight, and featherweight. He seemed all but ready to be the next phenom that would continue to climb the charts ala his countryman Manny Pacquiao.
Nobody can fault him heavy for the loss to Rigondeaux in 2013, as the Cuban sensation is truly one of the most gifted fighters around. He rebounded with back-to-back victories after the Rigo loss, including a ninth-round TKO over Vic Darchinyan. However, the Walters knockout left him to re-examine his career and the “Filipino Flash” seems poised to regain boxing glory.
“I feel like I am 21 again,” Donaire added. “My speed has increased. I can feel my power is much stronger. My happiness is back. I had a great camp, but I know what must be done, I must win.”
Juarez (17-3, 13 KOs), has won four fights in a row and is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Juan Carlo Sanchez Jr. in July.
Also on the card, Puerto Rican sensation Felix Verdejo (18-0, 13 KOs), will be making a homecoming 10-round defense of his WBO Latino lightweight title against Josenilson Dos Santos (25-3, 15 KOs).
Deontay Wilder to Make Next Defense Against Atrur Szpilka
WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder will make the third defense of his belt when he faces Polish fighter Artur Szpilka on Jan. 16 in a Showtime-televised main event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
“You have one of the biggest Polish populations around the Barclays Center and in the New York/New Jersey area, and whatever you want to say about Szpilka, the guy is rugged and a brawler,” promoter Lou DiBella, who will promote the fight, told ESPN.com on Tuesday night, confirming rumors that Szpilka would be the opponent. “He won’t stink the joint out. He’ll make a good fight.”
With the fight only six weeks away, it was starting to become a major concern for the champ that they hadn’t been able to secure an opponent. Wilder’s camp had been in off-and-on negotiations with Ukrainian contender Vyacheslav “Czar” Glazkov over the last couple of months.
Glazkov was a long-time mandatory challenger for Wladimir Klitschko, but plans changed after Klitschko’s loss to Tyson Fury. When the IBF stripped Fury of their title, Glazkov saw an opening for an easier fight and is now set to face Charles Martin for the vacant IBF title.
Wilder spoke in distain for the move on Glazkov’s part.
“It’s frustrating,” Wilder said. “What’s frustrating is having an opponent that’s there and having had a deal for two months, and all of a sudden, they see an opportunity and they take the easier route. I think it’s disrespectful and unprofessional, in my opinion. I was looking forward to whupping [Glazkov] and whoever else. I’m looking to unify the division, and that’s my main goal and my mission. Whoever steps in that ring is going to get punished. I guarantee it. I promise you guys I will unify the division.”
Since suffering a 10th-round knockout loss to fellow contender Bryant Jennings in January 2014, Szpilka (20-1, 15 KOs), a 26-year-old southpaw, has won four fights in a row, including a 10-round decision against countryman and longtime contender Tomasz Adamek in November 2014 in one of the biggest heavyweight fights in Polish history.