Top Rank Promotion head Bob Arum said on Monday that newly crowned World Boxing Organization (WBO) super bantamweight champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. is set for two big title defenses next year.
Arum, who just celebrated his 84th birthday last week, said that Donaire would most likely fight Russian Evgeny Gradovich (20-1-1 win-loss-draw record with nine knockouts) early next year and WBO featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko (5-1 record with three knockouts) in November.
“It’s going to be big for Nonito next year. We are looking for former IBF featherweight champion Evgeny Gradovich for his first title defense next year,” Arum told The Manila Times via overseas call. “Gradovich has a plan to move down to super bantamweight.”
Gradovich, 29, lost the International Boxing Federation featherweight belt to Lee Selby via technical decision last May 30. He made a comeback posting a split decision win against American Aldimar Silva Santos last October 24.
If ever Donaire won his first title defense, Arum said that he would most likely face the 27-year-old Lomachenko late next year. Lomachenko is coming off a four-fight win streak that includes two knockout victories against Gamalier Rodriguez in May and Romulo Koasicha in November.
“Donaire could face the Ukrainian Lomachenko in November or late next year,” added Arum.
Arum also said that he was really impressed by Donaire’s win over Mexican Cesar Juarez for the vacant WBO super bantamweight belt last Friday (Saturday in Manila).
“I was there watching and it was really a tremendous performance. He [Donaire] was pushed to the limits by Juarez, but he didn’t give up. It was a great performance,” said Arum. “He stood up to the challenge and won the fight.”
“Gradovich, Lomachencko and most likely against unbeaten Mexican-American Jessie Magdaleno. Any of these fighters could challenge Nonito next year,” Arum said.
Gradovich, Lomachenko and 24-year-old super bantam Magdaleno (22-0 record with 16 knockouts) are under Arum’s boxing promotion.