Nonito Donaire and Nicholas Walters will meet to unify their versions of the featherweight world title on Oct. 18 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, organizers told ESPN.com on Wednesday night.
The fight, which is not yet signed but has been agreed to, according to Carl Moretti, vice president of Top Rank, which promotes both boxers, is due to take place as the HBO-televised opener of the card headlined by middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs) making his 12th defense against interim titlist Marco Antonio Rubio (59-6-1, 51 KOs).
The addition of Donaire-Walters adds a top-notch fight to a card that is already a hot ticket. According to K2 Promotions managing director Tom Loeffler, Golovkin's promoter, the card is already the fastest-selling boxing event to be scheduled at the StubHub Center, a venue that has hosted numerous fight cards.
"Even before this fight was made the response we've gotten to Gennady's fight with Rubio has been incredible. There has been a great response. This just makes the show even bigger and better," said Loeffler, who formally announced Golovkin-Rubio at a Los Angeles news conference on Wednesday, but couldn't announce Donaire-Walters because the deal with Top Rank was not agreed to until several hours later.
Loeffler worked with HBO and Moretti to get Donaire-Walters done even though K2 Promotions is not involved with either fighter.
"They are both Top Rank fighters, but we wanted to make the best fight possible even if it didn't involve our fighters (in the co-feature)," Loeffler said. "This fight adds a lot of value to Gennady's fight with Rubio."
K2 Promotions has a limited roster and did not have another fight it could make that would work as an HBO fight, but Top Rank also needed a slot for Donaire and Walters with dates and money from HBO running short for the rest of the year. Top Rank knew if it didn't make the fight for the Oct. 18 card there was a good chance Donaire and Walters would have had to sit out the rest of the year.
"These guys want to fight and we want them to fight, so this was a good spot for them," Moretti said. "The fight is agreed to and the paperwork is going out. It's a terrific fight. It's Walters' relative youth versus Donaire's experience. Walters is a strong, younger, hungry fighter. Donaire is an established pound-for-pound fighter, one of the biggest names in the sport still. It's not like Donaire hasn't faced guys like this before. We know Donaire has been there before. Now we'll see what Walters can do on this kind of big stage."
While the matchup shapes up as an excellent one it's not a unification fight in the true sense of the word, meaning titleholders with belts from different sanctioning bodies fighting to gain a second title. Donaire and Walters both hold world titles sanctioned by the WBA in the same division, one of the many things that makes little sense about boxing and leads to confusion. Donaire holds the main belt while Walters has a secondary version. A third fighter, Jesus Andres Cuellar, holds yet a third version of a WBA featherweight title, the organization's interim crown.
Donaire (33-2, 21 KOs), 31, a native of the Philippines from San Leandro, California, and Walters (24-0, 20 KOs), 28, of Jamaica, are both coming off victories on the same card on May 31 in Macau, China.
Donaire, the 2012 fighter of the year, won his title by dropping Simpiwe Vetyeka in the fourth round and claiming a fifth-round technical decision when the referee ruled that Donaire was unable to continue due to a cut caused by an accidental head butt. The fight was sent to the scorecards and Donaire was ahead 49-46 on all three of them.
By beating Vetyeka, Donaire -- "The Filipino Flash" -- claimed a world title in his fourth weight class (fifth, if you count interim belts) and won his second fight in a row since losing his junior featherweight title in a unification fight to Guillermo Rigondeaux in April 2013.
On the undercard, Walters, known as "The Axe Man," scored a dominating fifth-round knockout of aging former two-division titlist Vic Darchinyan, who had previously been twice knocked out by Donaire. Walter, who has defended his belt twice, has scored knockouts in 10 of his last 11 fights.