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WBC-WBO champion Donaire eyes weighty rewards

Nonito Donaire is ready to say goodbye to the bantamweight division.

The 28-year-old WBC and WBO champion fights his last bout at 118 pounds against Omar Narvaez on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. Assuming he wins, Donaire has his sights on WBC super bantamweight champ Toshiaki Nishioka.

Nishioka, from Japan, won a 12-round decision over Rafael Marquez on Oct. 1 at the MGM Grand Garden.

"I’d like to fight (Nishioka)," Donaire said. "He’s a good fighter, and he represents his country well. But I’d love to fight him and have the fight in Las Vegas."

Donaire has an eye on eventually moving up to lightweight and getting some big-money fights.

"It’s possible," he said. "All I know it’s really hard for me to make 118 and it’s time to move on."

First things first. Donaire (26-1, 18 knockouts) hasn’t fought since Feb. 19, when he scored a sensational second-round knockout over Fernando Montiel at Mandalay Bay. Donaire flirted with being promoted by Golden Boy before returning to Top Rank and now admits he was inactive for too long. But he has been busy in the gym and continues to work with Victor Conte to serve his strength, conditioning and nutritional needs.

Conte, founder of the infamous Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, served prison time in 2005 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute steroids.

Donaire’s drug tests were negative before and after the Montiel fight.

"I feel great," he said. "We’ve concentrated on being in the best shape possible, and I’ll be ready to go as long as I need to. We’re trying to take all the rust off."

Donaire faces a crafty veteran in Narvaez, a 36-year-old Argentinian who is 35-0-2 with 19 knockouts.

"He’s a very slick guy," Donaire said. "He’s not super fast, but he’s very tricky. We have to watch out for his experience."

■ HERSHMAN MOVES — Showtime’s Ken Hershman replaces Ross Greenburg as HBO Sports president on Jan. 9. One of Hershman’s coups at Showtime was airing the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley fight May 7, which ultimately led to Greenburg’s departure.

Hershman, who had been president of Showtime Sports since 2003 and spent 19 years with the cable company, has been involved in boxing for years. His latest endeavor, the "Super Six" Super Middleweight Tournament, concludes Dec. 17.

Meanwhile, HBO’s reality series "24/7 Pacquiao/Marquez" debuts at 7 p.m. Saturday on HBO. For non-HBO subscribers, the show will replay at 9 p.m. on CNN, as will subsequent episodes Oct. 29, Nov. 5 and Nov. 11.

The show is helping to promote the pay-per-view telecast of the Nov. 12 WBO welterweight showdown at the MGM Grand Garden, the third meeting between Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) and Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs).

■ FLOYD HOSTS AMATEURS — WBC welterweight champ Floyd Mayweather Jr. is donating use of his gym at 4020 Schiff Drive to Center Ring Boxing for an amateur card Oct. 29. The card begins at 4 p.m., and tickets are $10.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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