Top Rank Promotion head Bob Arum said on Saturday that World Boxing Organization (WBO) super bantamweight champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. would defend his title against Evgeny Gradovich in April in Manila.
“I really love Nonito. I’m confident he will defend his title. Donaire Jr. and Gradovich will fight in April in Manila, which will be broadcasted by ABS CBN. I will also go to Manila and watch that fight,” Arum told The Manila Times in a phone interview.
“That will be a week after Manny Pacquiao’s April 9 fight here in US.”
The Donaire-Gradovich bout might happen on April 16 or 23 possibly at the Araneta Coliseum.
Arum said that Donaire (36-3 win-loss record with 23 knockouts) needs to train harder than when he fought Mexican Cesar Juarez.
“It’s going to be a tough first title defense because Gradovich is also a warrior. I’m proud the way Nonito won against Juarez. I expect an exciting bout between the two boxers. I’m sure they [Donaire’s camp] will prepare well Nonito in this fight.”
Donaire, 33, a five-division world champion, survived a grueling bout against Juarez via unanimous decision last December 11 in Puerto Rico to recapture the WBO super bantamweight title vacated by Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Rigondeaux, who was stripped by the WBO of his title because of inactivity, won from Donaire via unanimous decision the WBO and World Boxing Association (WBA) Super world bantamweight belts on April 2013.
Gradovich, 29, holds a 20-1-1 win-loss-draw record with nine knockouts. He won via split decision over Aldimar Silva Santos last October 24 in Nebraska. Gradovich will fight Mexican Jesus Galicia on January 9 in Spain before he fights Donaire.
Donaire won via ninth round technical knockout over Vic Darchinyan in their rematch on November 9, 2013 in Texas, before he snatched the WBA Super world featherweight belt against South African Simpiwe Vetyeka on May 31, 2014.
But his reign in the featherweight division was immediately cut short when he lost to Nicholas Walters via sixth round technical knockout on October 18, 2014.
He came back strong in 2015 scoring two second round technical knockout wins over William Prado on March 28, 2015 and Anthony Settoul on July 18, 2015, before beating Juarez in a world title fight.