Top Rank promoter Bob Arum hinted at the possibility of the Nonito Donaire-Naoya Inoue rematch coming into fruition in April.
But one of the major concerns that might hinder the much-awaited second round for the two bantamweight stars would be the Japanese government.
It would be recalled that the Japanese government implemented strict travel restrictions anew last year due to the rising cases of COVID-19 with the Omicron variant.
“I think that’s really close,” said Arum in an interview with the 3 Knockdown Rule. “Everything depends on not Donaire, not Inoue, not [Hideyuki] Ohashi and [Akihiko] Honda but on the Japanese government lifting the restrictions on events and so-forth.”
Ohashi and Honda are Inoue’s Japanese handlers. The reigning, unified super WBA, IBF, and The Ring bantamweight champion is backed by Arum under Top Rank.
“But from what we understand, April we’ll be in all clear,” added Arum.
The WBC bantamweight king, however, clarified that he has yet to discuss it further with his promoter Richard Schaefer of Probellum.
In their first meeting in November 2019, a championship bout that earned the Fight of the Year honor, Inoue scored a unanimous decision win over Donaire.
Donaire, 39, then captured the WBC belt in May last year after dethroning Frenchman Nordine Oubaali and defended it against compatriot Reymart Gaballo in December to improve at 42-6 record with 28 knockouts.
Interestingly, the “Filipino Flash” won with back-to-back fourth-round KO wins, enough for him to earn WBC’s Comeback of the Year award and Premier Boxing Champion’s Knockout of the Year honor.
Inoue, 28, for his part, remained unbeaten in 22 matches on top of 19 KOs with the most recent win against Aran Dipaen in December.