3 More Rounds

Three Kings: Top Rank Completes Filipino Trilogy By Resigning Nonito Donaire

Photo by Laura de la Torre

Last week, it was announced that unified bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire has signed a four year deal with long time promoter Top Rank. After a star making performance against former champ Fernando Montiel back in February, Nonito stated he would be leaving Top Rank in favour of Top Rank’s rival Golden Boy Promotions. Donaire explained that the reason for this change was due to him feeling that Top Rank was not putting forth full effort into enhancing his career and that they were not fulfilling their obligation in securing him three fights a year.

Top Rank did all they could to block this move and took the situation to court. When the judge ruled in favour of Top Rank, Donaire signed the aforementioned deal with the Bob Arum-promoted organization and both sides are saying that they aim to reconcile any past differences and form a successful partnership going forward. This resigning of Nonito is extremely major for Top Rank, as Donaire will join Filipino heritage counterparts Manny Pacquiao and Mercito Gesta. Manny Pacquiao, of course, is the number one boxer on the planet while the undefeated Gesta is a big time prospect coming up in the lightweight division. Donaire fits right in-between them as he enters the prime of his career and aims to quickly follow the footsteps of Manny.

It was only a couple of short years ago that Top Rank was being shoved aside by the Oscar De La Hoya-led Golden Boy Promotions as Golden Boy enjoyed a very comfortable relationship with premier boxing network HBO; and thus was able to secure many dates with the cable giant to showcase their fighters while Top Rank was forced to set up independent pay per views to spotlight their boxers. Bob Arum publicly cried foul and spoke out about the apparent favouritism HBO was showing to Golden Boy despite Top Rank offering the more attractive bouts. HBO Sports president at the time Ross Greenburg shrugged Arum off and made some very humiliating remarks about the long time promoter, implying that Bob was out of touch with reality and simply a bitter man who was losing his mental capacity.

There was however one problem with HBO and Golden Boy’s plan to monopolize the boxing landscape; a very major problem. The problem was the main man of the Top Rank’s new Filipino trio: Manny Pacquiao. As Manny’s electric performances drew the attention of boxing fans everywhere, he was eventually matched up with top Golden Boy fighters such as Juan Manuel Marquez, Ricky Hatton, Marco Antonio Barrera and Oscar De La Hoya himself. One by one Manny knocked them down and conquered them, virtually ending the career of three of those mentioned. These dominating performances by the Pacman not only severely damaged Golden Boy’s roster and profitability; it forced HBO into having to deal with Top Rank as Manny became a legit star attraction.

Obvious to Arum however, was that HBO was never going to be an impartial intermediary between the promoters and fans. Relations got so bad between Top Rank and HBO that the unthinkable happened: Arum took Manny Pacquiao and slotted his May 2011 fight with rival network Showtime, who once was a legitimate competitor to HBO but over the years became a very distant second in televising boxing telecasts and pay per views. After this move, HBO apparently panicked; parting ways with Arum’s nemesis Ross Greenburg and engaging in a battle with Showtime to secure Manny’s fall 2011 matchup with Juan Manuel Marquez.

This blatant response to Manny converting to Showtime for one fight shows one thing if anything: HBO no longer has faith at all in Golden Boy to solely carry the network’s boxing programming. Golden Boy tried to gain some steam again by getting a hold of Donaire, but since that has fallen through Golden Boy’s competiveness to Top Rank has further withered down. Though the resigning of Nonito is a major blow to their rival, the move represents something far greater for Top Rank.

Manny Pacquiao and his trainer Freddie Roach have both stated that there are only a handful of fights left before the boxing icon calls it a career. Manny has secured himself into a career in politics and is very dedicated to bring prosperity to the impoverished areas of the Philippines. Therefore as Manny completes the final chapters to a once in a lifetime boxing career, Top Rank is now in position to sow the seeds to somewhat fill his inevitable departure.

Nonito has become a major name with his last performance and every fight of his from now on will no doubt capture the attention of boxing fans. Mercito Gesta is coming up very fast as well and many are calling him the second coming of his countryman Manny Pacquiao. These two will be the ones to grab the heavy mantle of Filipino boxing excellence that Manny hands down in the next few years and by all indications they seem capable to carry it as they further develop and polish their games.

The letting go of Ross Greenburg by HBO and the resigning of Donaire have Top Rank right now as the biggest and most impressive looking building in the sky in the boxing landscape; with the three Filipino bombers acting as the strong, solid pillars that will hold the structure up for years and years to come.


  1. gerard

    August 1, 2011 at 7:37 am

    this goes to show that ODH’s partner and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer is not as competent as its counterpart in Top Rank.
    Top Rank pinned Golden Boy once again in this case.

  2. knonie

    August 1, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Hi! At a glance, I thought Donaire has resigned from Top Rank.
    Would it not be more clear if it is written as re-signed? Just for clarification.
    Am proud the three of them are with Bob Arum’s Top Rank. Am a Filipino. Thanks!

  3. Emmanuel

    August 1, 2011 at 9:46 am

    enticing article…

  4. Paul Dalde

    August 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I agree with the writer to put Gesta in the equation and termed him prospect. That means he is not equal and champion yet.

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