Nonito Donaire is a three-division champion and 2012 Fighter of the Year. And with all of his accomplishments, rising popularity and some comparisons to eight-division champion and fellow Filipino Manny Pacquiao, there is this issue of drug testing.
And drug testing was the issue Thursday afternoon that almost caused a cancellation of a press conference in New York City and his junior featherweight title unification bout with undefeated, 11-0, Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba.
“I believe in clean fights, in a clean sport,” commented Donaire. He, along with members of the media waited for the Rigondeaux camp to review and finalize a deal that would implement voluntary drug testing for the title fight scheduled for April 13, at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.
HBO executives and promoter Bob Arum, of Top Rank also waited anxiously downstairs in the ballroom at the BB King Blues Club in the heart of Times Square. Donaire continued to meet the media, as did Rigondeaux with minimal attention centered on a hurdle in back of the room.
There, the revised contract was signed, sealed and delivered. Donaire, along with Arum got their stipulation. VADA, also known as the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association was now in effect. Without the testing, there would be no fight and the continued talk of Donaire and Abner Mares would be ongoing.
So, pro boxing has reached another point of contention. And something that all professional sports confronts is a reality that drug testing has become a frequent issue to prevent the use of PFD’s, known as performance enhancing drugs. After three years of drug testing talk for the proposed Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Maywether Jr. fight that never happened, Nonito Donaire got his stipulation.
It could be a precedent that Donaire has finally started. And there certainly will be continued resistance without a national boxing commission to scrutinize VADA system or any other type of anti doping agency. Some will say it works, others won’t.
However to Nonito Donaire, (31-1, 20 KO’s) who may have ambitions of moving up in weight, similar to his fellow countryman Pacquiao, drug testing is important for the sport of boxing and for the fans.
“If people just participate,” said Donaire in defense of the drug testing system. He says, “I have nothing to hide and I do it for my fans and for the boxing world.”
To the skeptical fans that view illegal doping as an issue in the sport, perhaps VADA is the proper route. The procedures received high praise from the New York State Athletic Commission. They will be closely involved with monitoring results of tests on the fighters prior to their arrival in New York.
The VADA reports will be confidentially submitted and under the jurisdiction of the athletic commission, promoter, and the fight camps. This was a main dispute that went back and forth when the issue came up with Pacquiao and Mayweather.
Arum won the fight this time. A Top Rank official said about the fight, “Bob was ready to call it all off,” as he was obviously meeting the demands of his fighter, though later when the issue was resolved, Donaire said he was only concerned about getting back to business and defending his share of the title.
It was not in the best interests to tell everyone to go home Thursday after eating lunch and playing the waiting game. Both sides came to the table when Arum got his insistence that VADA would take control of the testing.
The Rigondeaux camp wanted the United States Anti-Doping Agency to take sole control, a group that has different policies and procedures. Either way, Donaire needs to have a good performance in New York. Back in December he recorded a third round KO that put Jorge Arce into retirement.
“They said they would use any type of testing,” commented Donaire. In other words, the Rigondeaux camp caused the conflict when they went against VADA being the major player for testing.
To his credit, Rigondeaux, the two-time Olympic gold medal winner said he had no contention with testing procedures. “They keep talking about it. I am used to being tested. I been tested all my life I am ready to get tested now.”
He added, “Nonito is a great fighter but I am an excellent fighter. The question is who wants to fight me,” and Mares, who he fought as an amateur is a likely opponent, but first the mission is to dethrone Donaire.
The question though, is beyond the fight that takes place on April 13th. It should be a good one in the ring, and if Donaire prevails boxing fans deserve to see a potential great fight with Donaire against Mares. However, the two promoters, Golden Boy (Mares), and Donaire (Arum) have to end this renewed promotional war that is robbing fans of great fights.
To that, Donaire said, “It’s unfortunate because I know Mares wants to fight me and I want to fight him. At this time as long as me, and Mares keep pushing it we have to put pressure with the promoter. We see a kind of a Manny Pacquiao-Mayweather thing. “
“I don’t think both of us will be fighting for free, it is up to the promoters,” added Donaire who claimed his managers never received a contract from Golden Boy and Mares.
Now it is up to the fighters because the results of testing may never end the question of performance enhancing drugs in the sport.