Back with Top Rank, Donaire primed for run

Your random thoughts ...

&#8226; It was great to see bantamweight champ Nonito Donaire and Top Rank iron out their differences and make plans to get him back in the ring in October. After his tremendous one-punch knockout of Fernando Montiel to win a pair of belts in February, Donaire had all the momentum in the world. He scored a KO of the year candidate in his first HBO appearance, moved all the way to No. 3 on the pound-for-pound list and had HBO planning an immediate return in May.

But it got ugly when Donaire dumped Top Rank and signed with Golden Boy, only to essentially be forced to honor his contract with Top Rank. But all's well that ends well, as Donaire and Top Rank president Todd duBoef -- with a big assist from Rachel Donaire, the champ's wife -- worked things out. Donaire is now supposed to return in October, and he has so many possibilities for fan-friendly fights.

Obviously, it would be terrific if he could face the winner of the Aug. 13 Showtime bantamweight tournament final between titlist Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares. The winner of Agbeko-Mares against Donaire would be an action fight and crown the clear No. 1 118-pounder in the world. But I'm not sure if the timing will work for that or if there will be network issues, because HBO has an option on Donaire's next fight and Showtime has one on the tournament winner.

Regardless of whom Donaire fights in October, Donaire is headed for junior featherweight within the next couple of fights. There are several attractive matches for him in Top Rank's stable alone, including titlist Jorge Arce, former titlist Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., interim titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux and former belt holder Steve Molitor. Top Rank is also involved in the Oct. 1 fight between titlist Toshiaki Nishioka and former champ Rafael Marquez. The winner would also fit into the Donaire sweepstakes. And if "The Filipino Flash" can survive those kinds of matches at 122 pounds, Top Rank has even more to offer when he eventually moves to featherweight.

&#8226; I watched HBO's Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz "Face Off with Max Kellerman" the other night. Although it didn't have the fireworks of some of the recent editions, such as the one that aired before Wladimir Klitschko routed David "The Flopper" Haye, I thought the quiet intensity of Mayweather and Ortiz made it must-see TV. After some obligatory back-and-forth, Mayweather ended with this remark, which he said to Kellerman while smiling and almost snickering, as though Ortiz wasn't even remotely in his league: "I'm gonna get in there and destroy this kid." Mayweather has smack-talked many of his opponents, but this didn't come off as trash talk. There was just something in the way Mayweather said it that sounded utterly real.

&#8226; I thought Amir Khan came off very well in his first American talk show appearance, a visit with George Lopez on his late-night TBS show a couple of days after Khan beat Zab Judah. Khan was charming, funny and seemed at ease. The kid has a lot of charisma.

&#8226; Speaking of Khan, I'm not entirely sure of who he will fight next, but my first choice would be to see him face Robert Guerrero if Guerrero gets past Marcos Maidana on Aug. 27.

&#8226; By the way, it sure didn't seem like having Pernell Whitaker in his corner made a damn bit of difference for Judah.

&#8226; Recently, I was trading emails with Brendon Smith, who trains and manages Australian lightweight contender Michael Katsidis, who, win or lose, has been one of the most exciting fighters of the past decade. Although he has lost two fights in a row (to Guerrero and lightweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez), Katsidis has always made great fights and left everything he had in the ring. He'll try to bounce back on Aug. 13 against Michael Lozada. It will be Katsidis' first fight in Australia since 2006. I figured that it would be a pretty big deal in Australia, which has produced many good fighters in recent years. Katsidis has been one of the country's best -- and certainly the most exciting. So I was shocked when Smith told me the fight wasn't going to be on TV in Australia. How unfortunate for the great boxing fans of Australia. What are the TV execs there thinking?

&#8226; I get asked on a regular basis whatever happened to one-time prospect of the year Francisco "Panchito" Bojado, who took boxing by storm and flamed out almost as quickly. Well, here is your answer, and it ain't good. What a waste.

&#8226; Although Yordanis Despaigne certainly made his case for an Academy Award with the acting job he pulled against Edison Miranda after dropping to the mat following a borderline low blow on last week's "Friday Night Fights," he still has nothing on Likar Ramos' all-time performance in his knockout at the hands of Marquez last month.

&#8226; After light heavyweight titlist Beibut Shumenov defended his belt Friday night against Danny Santiago in a walkover, former champ Jean Pascal was in the ring trying to drum up interest in a fight with Shumenov. Hall of Fame promoter Don Chargin must have liked what he heard because I'm told he is looking to put it together. I'm with Chargin: I'd like to see that fight. I think it would be a barn burner.

&#8226; I'm not sure what Antonio Tarver wants to do in the wake of his impressive win against Danny Green, but how about a match with cruiserweight titleholder Steve Cunningham? I think it's a very interesting fight that would match the two best American cruiserweights -- a rarity these days. I would think it would be the kind of fight that could (and should) pique the interest of Showtime, where Tarver is also an announcer.

&#8226; It's bad enough that the Oct. 15 fight between light heavyweight champ Bernard Hopkins, who is from Philadelphia, and Chad Dawson, who is from New Haven, Conn., is on HBO PPV. But now the bout will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Does that make any sense?

&#8226; It's not the biggest fight ever, but the junior welterweight scrap between fringe contender Josesito Lopez and prospect Jessie Vargas is a good way to open the Mayweather-Ortiz HBO PPV telecast. It's great exposure for both fighters and it should be a fan-friendly match, which is what you want to kick off a night of action.

&#8226; I know he retired recently, but just remember one thing: There's only one Ricky Hatton.

&#8226; Happy 56th birthday to my cigar-smoking, martini-drinking, Italian food-eating, deal-making, B.S.-talking pal, promoter Artie Pelullo, and to junior lightweight contender Adrien Broner, who turned 22 and has a bright future.

&#8226; DVD pick of the week: I used to work at the Press & Sun-Bulletin newspaper in Binghamton, N.Y., which was maybe a 90-minute drive to the Turning Stone Casino in Verona. When the casino announced it would be hosting a boxing card, I convinced my editor to send me to write a column on its involvement in boxing, since Turning Stone was a destination for folks who lived in the area. He bought it, and off I went to cover the first title fight of my career. I dug the tape (yes, it's on VHS) out of my collection to check out that fight from 13 years ago last week, when Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson rolled to a lopsided decision against tough Luis Rolon in a flyweight title defense July 26, 1998. The fight was televised by ABC's "Wide World of Sports" (remember the good old days?), but I was more excited to be ringside. Johnson was the ultimate boxer who could make opponents look foolish with his slick moves and fast punches. Rolon? Not so much. So Johnson cruised in a fight that wouldn't be memorable to most people -- although it was to me.