After testing positive for COVID-19, Nonito Donaire is out of his Dec. 19 bout against Emmanuel Rodriguez for the vacant WBC bantamweight championship. The news, first reported by BoxingScene.com, comes after Donaire's original opponent for the date also tested positive for the virus.
Donaire was originally set to face WBC champion Nordine Oubaali on the Showtime event, which is scheduled to take place at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. When Oubaali was forced out due to his positive test, the WBC made Oubaali "champion in recess" and put the now-vacant title on the line for Donaire vs. Rodriguez. Oubaali would then have to face the winner of that fight in one of his next two fights as a mandatory opponent, unifying the titles in the process, or forfeit his status as champion.
Now, with Donaire out, BoxingScene said it is not clear if Rodriguez will remain on the card, possibly facing Reymart Gaballo, who is scheduled in the opening fight on the Showtime broadcast. And, should Gaballo be called up to the main event to face Rodriguez, it remains uncertain if the WBC would sanction the replacement fight as a championship contest.
This is the third time COVID-19 has impacted the event, with Thomas Dulorme being forced out of his welterweight bout with Jaron Ennis. Ennis will now face Chris van Heerden.
Donaire is coming off a loss to Naoya Inoue in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series. While Donaire lost the WBA bantamweight championship, he showed that he is still a top-tier talent, putting in a great effort in the 2019 Fight of the Year.
Rodriguez lost his own battle with Inoue, suffering a second round knockout in the WBSS semi-finals. The defeat was the first of Rodriguez's career and cost him the IBF bantamweight title.