Back in 2021, Nonito Donaire became the oldest to win a bantamweight world championship, at age 38. Can he keep fending off Father Time and beat his own record at age 40?
The legendary four-division champion has been stopping fighters much younger than him in recent years, and only lost his WBC title after running into Naoya Inoue again, who is arguably the pound-for-pound fighter today.
After Inoue became a rare undisputed world champion by winning every single bantamweight world title in 2022, the undefeated Japanese knockout artist decided to move up a division and vacate all his titles. As the sanctioning bodies try to shape the post-Inoue landscape at bantamweight, Donaire will get another opportunity at winning a world title.
With Donaire being the WBC’s number one ranked bantamweight, Mauricio Sulaiman announced that they have given approval to have the 40-year-old Filipino star get a shot at their vacant title. Donaire will face Alexandro Santiago on a date yet to be determined.
Filipino Reymart Gaballo will also take on Thailand’s Nawaphon Kaikanha in a bout that will likely determine the next challenger for that WBC belt.
As for the rest of the titles Inoue vacated, our friends over at Bad Left Hook summed up what’s next:
Takuma Inoue will face Liborio Solis for the WBA belt on April 8th.
The IBF has ordered the aforementioned Rodriguez to fight Vincent Astrolabio, the latter of whom recently burst onto the international stage with an upset of Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Moloney, Astrolabio, and Rodriguez are the top three WBO contenders, followed by Gaballo. If Astrolabio elects to fight Rodriguez and Gaballo goes the WBC route, Melvin Lopez would be next in line.
Donaire, 40, is 42-7 in his Hall of Fame-worthy career. His next opponent, Santiago, is only 27-years-old and is fresh off a stoppage win over Antonio Nieves that improved his overall record to 27-3-5.
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