COVID-19 has impacted Showtime’s December 19 tripleheader yet again.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Nonito Donaire has tested positive for the coronavirus and has withdrawn from his WBC bantamweight title fight against Emmanuel Rodriguez. Donaire was supposed to face France’s Nordine Oubaali in Showtime’s main event that night at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, but Oubaali tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced last month by Rodriguez.
Showtime’s card could move forward with Rodriguez in the main event against another opponent, possibly Reymart Gaballo. The Philippines’ Gaballo (23-0, 20 KOs) is scheduled to battle Chile’s Jose Velasquez (28-6-2, 19 KOs) in the opener of Showtime’s tripleheader, but he might move into the main event versus Rodriguez.
It was not clear at the time this story was posted if the WBC would sanction Rodriguez-Gaballo as a bantamweight title fight. Gaballo is ranked 26th in the WBC’s most recent ratings and, according to those listings, would not be eligible to fight for its bantamweight championship against the fourth-ranked Rodriguez.
Las Vegas’ Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs), who is the mandatory challenger for Oubaali’s WBC 118-pound championship, and Puerto Rico’s Rodriguez (19-1, 12 KOs) were supposed to fight for the WBC bantamweight championship. The WBC designated Oubaali its champion in recess once he pulled out of the Donaire fight and indicated Oubaali could make an optional title defense by February or face the Donaire-Rodriguez winner in his next fight.
If Oubaali beat an optional opponent by the WBC’s February deadline, he would’ve had to face the Donaire-Rodriguez winner in his following fight to fulfill his mandatory obligation.
Showtime’s co-feature December 19 also was altered last week due to COVID-19.
Jaron Ennis (26-0, 24 KOs), a highly touted welterweight contender from Philadelphia, was supposed to square off against Las Vegas’ Thomas Dulorme (25-4-1, 16 KOs). Once Dulorme tested positive for COVID-19, he was replaced by South Africa’s Chris van Heerden (28-2-1, 12 KOs) in that 10-round bout.