Nonito Donaire not interested in fighting ‘kids’ at Rio Olympics

Ryan Songalia

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Nonito Donaire not interested in fighting ‘kids’ at Rio Olympics
WBO junior featherweight champ Nonito Donaire Jr thinks it's 'unfair' for pro champions to fight amateurs with less experience

CEBU, Philippines – Nonito Donaire Jr has made it clear that he’s only interested in fighting professionals, not amateurs. 

The reigning WBO junior featherweight champion says he doesn’t want to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics even as amateur boxing governing body AIBA has stated its interest in opening up the boxing competition to boxing for the first time. 

“I’m fighting professional fighters of the elite level,” said Donaire, a native of Talibon, Bohol, Philippines who has won world titles in 4 divisions. 

“As you can see my background is about fairness and being bullied by other people. It’s all about equality for me, and I don’t see a guy that’s like [Floyd] Mayweather, [Manny] Pacquiao or all these guys fighting 18-year-olds who don’t even have that experience and I think it’s unfair. They may be talented kids but they haven’t been through the guts and the grinds of being a professional fighter.” 

Donaire (36-3, 23 knockouts) will make the first defense of his title this Saturday, April 23 when he faces Hungarian contender Zsolt Bedak (25-1, 8 KOs) at the Cebu City Sports Center in Cebu City. Donaire, 33, made it to the 2000 Olympic trials but lost to fellow Filipino-American Brian Viloria, a decision which Donaire’s father says his son should have won. 

“That one Nonito didn’t lose. It’s politics. After that Nonito lost his desire in going to amateurs,” said Donaire Sr, who doubles as his son’s trainer.

Eight-division boxing champion Pacquiao, who recently retired after defeating Timothy Bradley Jr earlier this month, has voiced his interest in representing the Philippines at Rio. “It would be my honor to represent the country in the Olympics. If I would be asked to represent boxing, why not? I would do everything for my country,” Pacquiao told Agence France-Presse.

Bob Arum, who promotes both Pacquiao and Donaire, has been vocal in his opposition to the idea of professionals fighting in the Olympics. 

“I think the idea of professional boxers in the Olympics the way it’s been proposed is insane,” Arum told AFP.

Boxing has traditionally been the Philippines’ best Olympic sport, with 5 of its 9 medals coming in the sport. The other 4 medals have come from athletics and swimming, though the last time the Philippines has medaled in a sport that wasn’t boxing was in 1936.

Donaire Jr says the only way he would want to compete at Rio de Janeiro is if he was only fighting fellow top level professionals. 

“To me it’s unfair but if I do have to fight guys, like basketball, like how they play other guys in the NBA, then I’m all for it. I do feel it’s unfair to put an 18-year-old out there who is untalented fighting Pacquiao, or a talented kid who is fighting Mayweather or [Wladimir] Klitschko.  

“I do feel there is a difference in the levels. Not that they’re not talented but the experience level in themselves shows when it really comes down to it.” –

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