Nonito Donaire, the 2012 BWAA Fighter of the Year, who is set to glove up against Guillermo Rigondeaux on April 13 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, has parted ways with advisor Victor Conte, the notorious chemical engineer associated with the BALCO scandal.
Conte told Maxboxing's Gabriel Montoya, in a story that ran Tuesday night, that he is no longer working with Donaire and that the decision was entirely his.
I reached out to Donaire (seen in Chris Farina-Top Rank photo, above, signing gloves in NYC Feb. 21) to get some more info, and talked with his wife-advisor Rachel on Wednesday afternoon.
I wondered if there was any smoke, any fire here. "No, we didn't fire Victor, it was his decision. We were happy with his work , we had no issues on our side," she told TSS. Being the pesky journo, I pressed further. Was there a tiff over money? "No, this has nothing to do with money," Rachel said. "It was just an assumption on one side about business."
Rachel said that Victor sent an "I quit" text to Team Nonito on Monday, in the early afternoon. Nonito had just started a workout, she said, so he didn't check his phone for several hours. She and a pal took Nonito to dinner, and suggested he check his phone. The 30-year-old boxer saw the breakup text, and while he was disappointed, to a degree, Rachel said, he accepted Conte's decision. "Yes, I think Nonito was a little bit disappointed, that kind of news you don't expect that after such a long relationship. But people make their own decisions, and Nonito respects that. He'd want to be respected if he made the same decision."
Conte advised the super bantamweight champion Donaire on supplements, and hydration and frequency of workouts and such, since his July 2010 fight against Hernan Marquez.
Rachel said that it might have been good to have the two men talk things out, instead of having Conte go the texting route. "But a lot of times people are non confrontational," she said.
Prolific Tweeter Conte has been quiet on the social messenger outlet. He re-Tweeted the Montoya story, and then wrote, "Entirely my decision to quit," and, "No vacation. All is well," in response to a Tweet asking what went down.
So, might this throw the 31-1 Donaire off, ahead of his April 13 clash against Rigondeaux, who could well be the stiffest test of his career? "No, it's not like Victor goes to the gym every day," she said. "I think that's a common misperception. Nonito called him if something feels off, or Victor would call him. Victor is a brilliant man, sometimes personalities don't get along. This doesn't detract from how much he knows. We're still doing testing with VADA, it doesn't take away from what Nonito wants to stand for, for anti-drug."
As a matter of fact, she said, Donaire had samples of blood and urine taken by VADA yesterday, right before sparring, so, life goes on. It sounds like this development won't distract the fighter, then? "Oh, no, the only thing that distracts him is the baby (Rachel is due in July)," she said, laughing.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV