Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dan Rafael [Print without images]

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Donaire eyes return in Macau

By Dan Rafael

When Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is in Macau next week for his Feb. 22 card at the CotaiArena at the Venetian Macao, he will also be meeting with casino executives to plan the rest of his shows there for this year.

Arum said he could do as many as six cards there in 2014, including one in May which he hopes to feature the return of Nonito Donaire.

Donaire_Darchinyan
Nonito Donaire, fresh off his November knockout of Vic Darchinyan in their rematch, is closing in on a featherweight title shot.
The May card, for which he doesn't have the specific date for yet, would be the first of his Macau shows that won't feature flyweight Zou Shiming, the Chinese Olympic hero and driving force for the casino's interest in boxing. Shiming fights in the main of next week's HBO2 card and won't fight again until a summer card there.
But Arum believes Donaire, a native of the Philippines, will be the draw for the spring show.

"We're looking at a title fight for Nonito Donaire and there's such a huge Filipino presence in Macau and [nearby] Hong Kong that having Donaire fight there will be great," Arum said. "And Manila is only an hour and 10 minutes away by plane. We will see if all this [boxing in Macau] is all Shiming driven or we can make a go of it even if he isn't on the card."

The fights are not signed yet, but Arum hopes to have 2012 consensus fighter of the year Donaire (32-2, 21 KOs) challenge South Africa's Simpiwe Vetyeka (26-2, 16 KOs) for his featherweight world title in the main event. Vetyeka scored a major upset to win a world title in December when he knocked out then-unbeaten long-reigning titleholder Chris John in the sixth round.

The fight would be Donaire's first since scoring a ninth-round knockout of former two-division titlist Vic Darchinyan in their November rematch. Although Donaire, a former three-division titleholder, won the fight, his first at featherweight, he suffered a fractured orbit bone below his right eye that put him on the shelf.

Arum said he is planning for featherweight titlist Nicholas Walters (23-0, 19 KOs) to defend his version of the featherweight title in the co-feature against Alejandro Perez (19-3-1, 13 KOs), who would first have to get by a UniMas headlining fight in Las Vegas on March 29. Perez's opponent has not been determined. Walters made his first defense in November in his first fight since signing with Top Rank and knocked out Alberto Garza in the fourth round.

"If Donaire wins, what I'd like to do is bring him back against the winner of Walters-Perez to unify the titles later in the year," Arum said.

Arum said he'd also like to have former flyweight titlist Brian Viloria (32-4, 19 KOs), a Filipino from Hawaii, on the May card in addition to 2012 Brazilian Olympic silver medalist Esquiva Falcao, a super middleweight, who makes his pro debut on Saturday (UniMas) in Hawaiian Gardens, Calif.