Donaire on Rigo Rematch and PEDs in Boxing

TSS chatted with Nonito Donaire last week as he made final preparations for Saturday night’s rematch against Vic Darchinyan in Corpus Christi, Texas. The bout will be aired live on HBO as part of tripleheader featuring Mikey Garcia vs. Roman Martinez and Vanes Martirosyan vs. Demetrius Andrade.

Donaire will face Darchinyan at featherweight. (The two are pictured above in Chris Farina-Top Rank photo.) Back in 2007,Donaire defeated Darchinyan by knockout in a flyweight bout. This will be the first time the popular Filipino competes at the 126-pound limit.

But what about a rematch with Guillermo Rigondeaux, who took Donaire’s TBRB junior featherweight championship from him back in April by 12-round decision? Will we ever see part two of that encounter?

“Someday…I’m hoping to,” said Donaire. “But I’m not going to go down to that division where I’m at a disadvantage now, you know?”

Donaire said he struggled to make weight in the past, and it’s only gotten more difficult for him as he’s aged. The 30-year-old said he wants to focus on boxing for the remainder of his career, not just losing weight.

“I have to struggle a little bit to make [weight in] that division, and the older you do get, the more difficult it is for you to recover. I want to be 100 percent when I’m inside the ring.”

Donaire said he was excited to be competing at featherweight now. He said the division is filled with exciting fights for him and even mentioned Vasyl Lomachenko by name as a possible future opponent. Still, Donaire said a rematch with Rigondeaux was also likely.

“We can definitely work on something…not so much for revenge but something more…it’s more to show I wasn’t at my best and I want to show the best of what I can do.”

I couldn’t help but ask Donaire, a fighter signed up for voluntary year-round PED testing through the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA), what he thought of the state of boxing today. Does he believe boxing has a PED problem?

“I think there’s a lot of that, and not just in the boxing world but in every sport,” said Donaire. “I think that if people can get their hands on it, then why not? I think people are of that type of mentality. It makes you better. It makes you stronger. You know? That’s all there is to it: to be on top.”

So why do it then? Why put yourself at a possible competitive disadvantage by signing up for stringent PED testing while others do not? And why volunteer for something that isn’t mandatory?

“I think it’s good for the sport. I owe everything I have to the sport of boxing. And I think that it’s good for the sport. I think that it’s good for everybody to follow that path, to be open to ‘hey if this person can do it why can’t I do it?’. Then hopefully it encourages other people to be clean, to be fair.”

I asked Donaire if it was encouraging to see super middleweight Edwin Rodriguez become the second fighter to sign up for the voluntary year-round testing program Donaire started doing back in 2012.

“Definitely… to see others out there taking that step…the more people that go out there and do it, the more likely it will become mandatory in the boxing world.”

Donaire said mandatory PED testing would help the sport tremendously.

“That’d be a good thing because no one can really go behind everybody else and take advantage. People will win because they work hard for it, not because they did something to themselves to enhance themselves.”

Regardless, Donaire said he’s made PED testing a mandatory requirement in his own career, and that it will not change.

“It’s become part of me and part of my career. For the rest of my career, I’m going to be doing random testing. Hopefully it encourages others to do random testing as well.”

Kelsey McCarson is a boxing writer for The Sweet Science and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @KelseyMcCarson.