'Free agent' boxer Nonito Donaire leaves Top Rank for Golden Boy

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By Bob Velin, USA TODAY

Nonito Donaire, the fast-rising boxing star and one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, has left Top Rank Promotions to sign a multi-year agreement with Golden Boy Promotions, the organization announced on Wednesday.

CAPTIONBy Ethan Miller, Getty Images

The 28-year-old Nonito Donaire (26-1, 18 KOs), a Filipino native and two-division world champion known as "The Filipino Flash," is coming off a stunning second-round stoppage of Fernando Montiel last month, which won him the WBC and WBO bantamweight belts.

"It's a big signing for us," GBP CEO Richard Schaefer told USA TODAY. "He's on most people's pound-for-pound lists, and is ranked right there with (Floyd) Mayweather, (Manny) Pacquiao and Sergio Martinez."From an excitement point of view, I think he's right on top of that list now. He's a young, exciting fighter and we're really happy to have him with Golden Boy."

Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum believes Donaire still belongs to his promotion. "Top Rank has a valid contract (with Donaire) and we plan to enforce our rights," Arum said. Asked if that meant filing a suit against GBP, he said, "yes."

Schaefer said Donaire declared himself a free agent, "and his legal team determined that, yes, he is a free agent, and we looked at those agreements, and our attorneys are in agreement with his attorneys, so we signed him."

Asked about a possible lawsuit, Schaefer said, "Anybody can sue, and I'm going to leave that in our attorneys' hands. I don't think they have any grounds for (a suit)."

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