NEW YORK — World bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire will make his first title defense against undefeated world junior bantamweight titleholder Omar Narvaez of Cordoba, Argentina on Saturday, Oct. 22 at the world famous Madison Square Garden.
Known as the “Filipino Flash” in the boxing world, the 28-year-old boxer from San Leandro, California, is the first reigning Filipino world champion to fight at the Garden since Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, then super featherweight champion, who also made it at the “The Mecca of Boxing”.
Top Rank promoter Todd duBoef said that the Garden is where “stars are born. If you can play New York, you can play anywhere. It doesn’t matter what sphere of entertainment you are in — music, theater, athletics — to play that city is a big steppingstone for anybody.”
At a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at Manhattan’s Edison Ballroom, Donaire impersonated New York’s legendary actor Robert DeNiro with his own version of “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’to me?” blurb. And with a sense of conviction, he said, “I’ve always wanted to say that.”
Donaire (26-1, 18 KO) who held titles at flyweight and super flyweight, faces Narvaez, a 36-year-old southpaw. Narvaez is currently the World Boxing Organization champ with a record of 35 wins (19 KOs) and 2 draws. He won his WBO world flyweight title on July 13, 2002 by a unanimous decision over Nicaraguan Adonis Rivas and has defended that title 16 times.
After defeating American Rayonta Whitfield in 2009, Narvaez surpassed his fellow Argentinian Carlos Monzon’s national record of successful defenses. His recent fight was against Mexican Victor Zaleta on February 12, 2011 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He won a unanimous point decision.
Donaire’s latest fight was in Feburary 2011 against Fernando Montiel of Mexico. He stopped Montiel in the second round to take the World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight world titles. After Montiel threw a right punch to the head of Donaire, Donaire countered with a devastating left to the head that sent Montiel to the canvas.
Montiel got up but Donaire rushed to him and unleashed a left and right hook before referee Russel Mora stopped the fight after two minutes and 25-second of the second round.
Following Manny “Pacman” Pacquaio record, Donaire became the second Filipino and third Asian to become a three-division world champion.
As a result of his outstanding feat, the Philippine Senate adopted two Senate resolutions filed by Senators Pia Cayetano and Manuel Lapid recognizing Donaire as an outstanding Filipino boxer and for bringing honor and pride to the country.
If Donaire wins against Narvaez, he expects his next bout to come against the Rafael Marquez-Toshiaki Nishioka winner on Oct. 1 in Las Vegas.
“He’s a champion, but I’ve faced many champions before,” Donaire said. “I want to be victorious coming out fo that fight. I know I have the advantage in terms of height and speed and overall skills, but he does have the advantage in experience. You just go out there and do your best.”