Nonito Donaire-Alexandro Santiago Approved For Vacant WBC Title; Date, Location TBA
Nonito Donaire has a somewhat clearer picture of his next title opportunity.
Boxing Scene has confirmed that the WBC has approved a vacant bantamweight title fight between Donaire and Mexico’s Alexandro Santiago. The pairing would satisfy the terms of the two highest ranked available contenders vying for one of the four titles left behind by former undisputed champ Naoya Inoue.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman revealed the development during a recent interview with ESPN Knockout, confirming a February 1 news break by BS.com stating that Santiago was likely next to land the title shot.
There is still work to be done, as a firm date, location and platform is still being sought for the vacant title fight. BS.com has learned that the bout could potentially land on a Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) show sometime in late spring or early summer.
Donaire (42-7, 28 KOs) aims to once again break his own record as the oldest fighter to win a bantamweight title. Santiago (27-3-5, 14 KOs) will enter his second career title fight. The 27-year-old Tijuana native held then-IBF junior bantamweight titlist Jerwin Ancajas to a twelve-round draw in their September 2018 clash in Oakland, California.
Assuming the fight takes place in the first half of 2023, Donaire will be 40 years old when he enters the ring. A win by the Fil-Am boxing superstar and former four-division titlist—who is now based out of Las Vegas—would set another record which he already shares, by entering his fourth bantamweight title reign.
Donaire first won the WBC and WBO bantamweight titles in a rousing second-round knockout of Fernando Montiel. The win saw Donaire—who was just 29 at the time—become a two-division champ, having held the IBF flyweight championship and a secondary version of the WBA junior bantamweight title. He since claimed the lineal, IBF and WBO junior bantamweight champion in a run that saw Donaire earn 2012 Fighter of the Year accolades, followed by a brief stay as WBA featherweight titlist in 2014 after ending his 122-pound championship reign in an April 2013 loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Donaire entered his second bantamweight title reign with a fourth-round injury stoppage of unbeaten WBA titlist Ryan Burnett in November 2018, just 13 days shy of his 36th birthday to establish a divisional record. The reign lasted just over a year before losing a twelve-round decision to Inoue in their November 2019 WBA/IBF unification bout and World Boxing Super Series final. He resurfaced 18 months later to break his own record as the oldest fighter to win a bantamweight title following a May 2021 fourth-round knockout of unbeaten Nordine Oubaali at 38 years old.
The reign once again ended in a loss to Inoue, suffering a second-round knockout in their rematch last June 7 in Saitama, Japan. Donaire has not fought since then, waiting out the sordid bantamweight title picture.
As previously reported by BS.com, Donaire was named the number-two contender in the WBC rankings during the sanctioning body’s annual convention last November in Acapulco, Mexico. The number one contender at the time was Australia’s Jason Moloney, who earned the ranking with a twelve-round win over Nawaphon Kaikanha in their WBC title eliminator last October 16 in Melbourne, Australia.
Talks fell flat upon the WBC ordering a Moloney-Donaire title fight, which ended with Top Rank pulling Moloney in favor of pursuing the vacant WBO title. The WBC subsequently approved Donaire-Santiago after previously naming a title eliminator between Kaikanha and former title challenger Reymart Gaballo, who suffered a fourth-round knockout defeat to Donaire in December 2021.
Santiago has won his last three starts since a competitive ten-round defeat to then-unbeaten Gary Antonio Russell in November 2021. All three wins took place in a productive 2022 campaign, including a seventh-round knockout of Antonio Nieves in their October 29 rematch after having previously fought to an August 2016 split decision draw.
Nonito Donaire vs. Alexandro Santiago - TBA
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