MANILA, Philippines – Being the more popular fighter doesn’t necessarily mean that Nonito Donaire Jr. is a favorite to defeat IBF featherweight champion Simpiwe Vetyeka when they meet on May 31 in Macau.
Donaire could even enter the bout as the underdog, according to Top Rank chief Bob Arum.
In a recent interview with Lem Satterfield of ringtv.com, Arum recognized Vetyeka career win over long-reigning champion Chris John of Indonesia, saying this alone makes the fight with Donaire more interesting.
"Vetyeka made a big splash by beating Chris John, so I think that it's a major fight for the Venetian Macau, and we'll promote the hell out of it," said Arum.
The promoter went to say the odds could be stacked against Donaire, who knocked out Vic Darchinyan in the ninth round of their rematch last November.
"I really don't know if Donaire is going to be the favorite. Donaire might go in as the underdog for this fight," Arum added.
Vetyeka, 33, forced John to quit on his stool after the sixth round of their title bout last December, improving his record to 26-2, with 16 knockouts.
Donaire, for his part, gets the chance to strut his wares in Macau for the first time, having fought most of his bouts in the US. Arum says this is a unique opportunity for the Filipino-American to tap into a new fan base.
"This opens up a whole new market for Donaire because of the heavy number of Filipinos in Macau and in Hong Kong, and, also, due to the proximity of Macau to the Philippines as far as Macau is concerned," Arum explained.
"So we hope that the Filipinos will rally behind him, and that the Chinese will appreciate him and the fight," he ended.
Donaire and Vetyeka will face off at the CotaiArena of The Venetian Resort, the same venue where Manny Pacquiao fought Brandon Rios in November last year.