As of this moment, the April 13 clash at Radio City Music Hall between WBO junior featherweight champ Nonito Donaire and WBA junior feather champ Guillermo Rigondeaux is on, but fans of boxing know that in the sport known as the "theater of the unexpected," the best-laid plans can go off the rails.
That almost happened on Thursday, as a press conference at BB King's in Manhattan almost got cancelled before it kicked off. Rigondeaux's team showed up and said that they wanted the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to do PED testing for the fight, instead of the Volunary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA), which is the body favored by Donaire, an adamant ant-doping advocate. The event promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, wasn't going to be painted into a corner. "Then we won't have this press conference," he thundered to the Rigo team, with the possible implication being that we might no have a fight, either.
The Rigondeaux crew gathered, whispered, and capitulated.
OK, VADA can do the testing, but we want USADA to do testing as well. Arum and Donaire agreed.
The Rigo squad told me they think that VADA is too cozy with Donaire, as Donaire's fitness and supplement adviser Victor Conte is a VADA booster. VADA might be too inclined to "over-scrutinize" Rigo, one Rigo team-member told me.
This hubbub distracts from what will likely be a stellar scrap, as Donaire is one of the very best technicians in the game, and Rigo, though he has fought just 11 times as a pro, is also a top-tier practitioner. He won gold for Cuba at two Olympics, and has fought more than 400 times. HBO will show the faceoff, for those unable to attend.
Here is some footage of the presser, courtesy of my friends at BoricuaBoxing.com.
I chatted with Arum, always a treat as he keeps any journo on his toes. He doesn't suffer fools easily, so you can find yourself sparring with the Brooklyn-born dealmaker if he doesn't care for your query. It didn't rise to the level of "sparring" when I asked Arum how he sees the Floyd Mayweather-to-Showtime development, though I did manage to return an arguably stiff counter on Arum when he chose not to offer an assessment of the six-fight, 30-month deal. "It remains to be seen," the 81-year-old said. "We don't know if it will be good for boxing or bad. How do we know till we see it? Why make a guess? We'll see how it develops." I offered that his predictions are usually pretty good, considering he's been in the business since 1966, and is the top promoter in the sport. He didn't budge. "We'll see," he said.
I asked Arum about his top boxer, Manny Pacquiao, and when we might see Pacquiao fight next. Check back to see what he said ...
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