Nonito Donaire due back in spring

Former three-division world titleholder Nonito Donaire, the consensus 2012 fighter of the year, suffered a hairline fracture of the orbit bone below his right eye during his knockout victory against Vic Darchinyan on Saturday night but plans to let it heal on its own rather than have surgery, Rachel Donaire, his wife, told ESPN.com on Wednesday night.

After Donaire knocked out Darchinyan in the ninth round in Corpus Christi, Texas, in the featherweight debut for both fighters, Donaire said he thought he had suffered a broken cheek. After the fight, Donaire had an X-ray taken and a fracture was suspected, but it was not confirmed until he had an MRI in San Francisco on Tuesday.

"He had the exam and they said it was a fracture but they thought it could heal on its own," Rachel Donaire said. "When we were in Corpus Christi, the doctor at the hospital after the fight said Nonito probably needed surgery, but we wanted to wait and get a second opinion.

"The doctor in San Francisco, who is in the same group as the doctor that did Nonito's shoulder surgery (earlier this year), said he could let it heal on its own. So Nonito will let it rest. He's had fractures in his hands and let them rest and they healed."

The injury means that a return on Jan. 25, the HBO date that was under discussion for Donaire to challenge for a featherweight belt against either Nicholas Walters or Evgeny Gradovich, is off. Donaire is expected back in the ring in April or May.

"It should be healed by then, but before he starts contact, we'll get another MRI to make sure it's healed," Rachel Donaire said. "We're praying that it will heal like other fractures he has had in his hands. If it doesn't heal on its own then we'll have to go and have the surgery, but we want to avoid the surgery as much as possible."

Added manager Cameron Dunkin: "I was concerned he was in pain, but he was talking to me on the phone and laughing and not in pain, so that made me feel better about the situation.

"Nonito wanted fight (in January) but he's not going to be able to. He'll be fine and be ready go (in April or May). He wants to fight for a featherweight title, so when he's ready to come back, we'll look to see who's available and make a decision."

Donaire suspected that the injury happened when he got caught with a looping left hand in the third or fourth round of the fight, which Darchinyan was winning on two scorecards, with the third one even, before the knockout. Although Donaire (32-2, 21 KOs) knocked out Darchinyan, a former two-division titleholder, he struggled against an opponent he had spectacularly knocked out in the fifth round of their first meeting to win a flyweight world title in 2007.

The fight was Donaire's first since being named 2012 fighter of the year and then losing a decision to Guillermo Rigondeaux, the two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist, in their April junior featherweight title unification bout.