Bob Arum on Nonito Donaire
Top Rank’s Bob Arum, like all promoters, has nothing but praise for his fighters. But the praise he lavishes on Nonito Donaire feels genuine.
Anyone who has seen Donaire fight knows he’s got what it takes. He is fast, he is exciting, and he’s got heavy hands. Despite being small in a world where bigger is supposedly better, bantamweight champion Donaire is on the cusp of superstardom, and he deserves it, having earned it the hard way.
“I really believe that Nonito will be a major star in boxing,” Arum says. “Everyone that follows boxing knows he is top pound-for-pound, but our goal is to make him a superstar. To compare him with Manny misses the point. Manny is a Filipino also, but that is the connection. With Nonito, we have to do it Nonito’s way, dealing with who he is and what he represents. Nonito is as much American as he is Filipino because he has lived in this country for so long and I think he was candidate for the US Olympic team. But even thought he has lived in the U.S. for many years, Nonito is a Filipino. The mindset of the Filipinos that I’ve met is completely different. They are very, even though they have great courage, they are very humble and they realize that God has provided them with their athletic gifts. We think that Nonito is such a great exciting fighter and such a pleasing personality that we expect as he rises in weight to 122 and 126 and maybe above that he will become a major superstar in the sport.”
In Arum’s capable hands anything is possible. But he’s not handing a diamond in the rough, he’s handling one of boxing’s Hope Diamonds, and all Donaire needs to do is keep knocking men out for the world to know it.
“The goal,” says Arum, “as in any fighter, is to make him a pay-per-view attraction. How long that will take? It is sort of silly to make a projection. It will come when it comes. When it comes it will launch him into the elite superstar category where he will make his money based on how many people follow him on pay-per-view. We’ll know when it is time to make the move and cannot put artificial projections in the way of getting to the goal we want to get to.”
Donaire lives in southern California, which has a bustling fight scene, and Las Vegas, that wonderland of fizz and artifice, qualifies as a suburb of L.A. So why is Arum bringing Donaire east, so far from his natural stomping grounds?
“A lot of people ask me why am I bringing Nonito Donaire to New York at Madison Square Garden,” Arum says. “They point out there are over two-million Filipinos that live in the Los Angeles area. I tell them Filipinos live all over the United States. There are about 400,000 Filipinos living in the New York Metropolitan area, and besides, there are a lot of great fight fans in New York and this gives them the opportunity to see this phenomenal fighter, Nonito Donaire, up close and personal. For Nonito’s future, he is being exposed to the Big Apple, fighting an undefeated fighter.”
When people talk about Donaire’s power, they inevitably refer to his blasting out Fernando Montiel in two rounds.
“Nonito Donaire is coming off a tremendous knockout victory over Fernando Montiel. Montiel was considered to be one of the great bantamweights in the world and everyone knows the result of that fight: a tremendous knockout win. I’ve been around a long time and that was one of the most devastating punches I have ever seen. He caved in Montiel’s face. It was scary and it demonstrates to me that not only is Nonito a good boxer but he has lethal power in his hands and it’s going to be tough for anyone to beat him.”