Unified bantamweight titlist Nonito Donaire, who recently worked out his promotional issues with Top Rank and signed a new contract, was due to defend his 118-pound belts against an opponent to be determined on Nov. 5 on HBO. However, the date is being shifted to Oct. 22, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said.
The site is still to be determined, although Carson, Calif., and Reno, Nev., are both in the running, Arum said.
Arum said HBO accommodated his request to make the date change. He said one of the reasons he asked was because he did not want Donaire's HBO fight to conflict with Showtime's Lucian Bute-Glen Johnson super middleweight title bout on the same night. Originally, Top Rank fighter and former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik was supposed to fight Bute, but he eventually declined the bout after Top Rank and InterBox, Bute's promoter, had made a deal.
"We think it's a bad idea to have HBO and Showtime go head-to-head and we told HBO that we thought that and that we wanted to go on a different date because (Showtime was) planning a Bute fight on Nov. 5," Arum told ESPN.com. "We didn't think it was right, especially given the history with Pavlik, to go up against Showtime. So HBO gave us Oct. 22. Boxing needs as big an audience as it can get and having two good fights on different night is a good thing."
Donaire, a native of the Philippines living in Northern California, also preferred to fight in October rather than November, according to his manager, Cameron Dunkin.
Top Rank also thought it would be better to keep Donaire's fight a bit further away from that of the Philippines' biggest star, Manny Pacquiao, who fights Juan Manuel Marquez on Nov. 12 (HBO PPV). Arum reasoned that the closer Donaire (26-1, 18 KOs), not far behind Pacquiao on most pound-for-pound lists, fought in relation to Pacquiao the more overshadowed he would be.
Arum said he plans to put featherweight contender Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia (26-0, 22 KOs) on the undercard, although HBO said it does not plan to televise a second bout that night.
There are several names being discussed by Top Rank and HBO as Donaire's opponent. The most likely one is Argentina's Omar Narvaez (35-0-2, 23 KOs), a junior bantamweight titleholder who, like Donaire, is also a former flyweight titlist. Narvaez held a flyweight belt from 2002 until 2009, when he vacated it to move in weight and won a junior bantamweight belt in 2010.
Top Rank's Carl Moretti said he has made deals with Narvaez, former two-time title challenger Silence Mabuza (23-3, 19 KOs) of South Africa and Mexico's Christian Esquivel (23-2, 17 KOs). However, he said those deals are contingent on HBO's approval and he has not gotten a firm answer from the network on its preferred opponent.
Arum said the fight will be Donaire's last at bantamweight before he moves up to the junior featherweight division. Donaire won two bantamweight belts in February with a spectacular second-round knockout of Fernando Montiel.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.