With Manny Pacquiao officially retired, that leaves the 38-year-old Nonito Donaire Jr. as the most decorated active Filipino fighter. Having nine world titles in four divisions, to go with highlight reel wins, the Filipino Flash says he has no plans of hanging up his gloves soon. But he applauds the Pacman's decision to end his boxing career.
"It's really difficult for a fighter to do what he did and it just shows where he wants to be, the passion that he has for whatever he wants to do next. To be courageous enough to say the things he did, you have to respect that," Donaire said.
Donaire also revealed he's close to finalizing a fight against WBC mandatory challenger and current interim champion Reymart Gaballo of Polomolok, Mindanao. "We are finalizing the negotiations... December 11, I think, is what they’re saying but again all of it has to be finalized and signed."
Last December, Covid-19 testing issues canceled the world title fight between Donaire and WBC champion Nordine Oubaali. This opened the door for Gaballo to win the WBC interim title over fellow substitute fighter Emmanuel Rodriguez, while Donaire successfully defeated Oubaali last May for the full title.
This past summer, Donaire was in talks for a possible all-Filipino world title unification with WBO champion John Riel Casimero. However, arguments over testing and verbal clashes between the camps derailed the fight for now.
"Things happen and turn for some typical reasons, but it is what it is and we’re here now," Donaire said.
In the meantime, Donaire said he looks forward to his all-Filipino world title fight against the 25-year-old Gaballo, who has often referred to Donaire as his idol. Donaire described Gaballo as a "nice, really respectful kid. I really respect the kid. He’s going to do his best... but I’m always going to be ready for it."
Meanwhile, Casimero is on course to defend his title against the WBO mandatory challenger Paul Butler of England. Their fight is also expected to happen on December 11, possibly taking place in the UK or the Middle East.