Nordine Oubaali would not be defending his bantamweight world title against Filipino boxer four-division champion Nonito Donaire because he tested positive for COVID-19.
Oubaali clarified that his withdrawal from the bout was not due to difficulties in getting a visa to travel from France to the United States.
“Oubaali is positive for Covid-19. That is why he is out of the fight. It has nothing to do with his visa,” Bob Yalen, the CEO of Oubaali adviser MTK Global, told BoxingScene on Friday. “This is strictly for the health and safety of the boxer. He has the virus, and he has not been able to train effectively for the past two weeks. Nordine was really excited about the fight. He was all fired up for the fight.”
“The Filipino Flash” Nonito Donaire would instead face former bantamweight world titlist Emmanuel Rodriguez at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The fight would be on December 19 and not on its original date of December 12.
Oubaali not fighting Nonito Donaire after contracting COVID-19
According to Yalen, the WBC would reclassify Oubaali as its bantamweight champion in-recess, allowing Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs) and Rodriguez (19-1, 12 KOs) to fight for the vacant 118-pound title. Yalen added that Oubaali would be allowed to take an interim fight once he recovers from COVID-19. He would assert his rights as the in-recess champion to fight whoever wins between Nonito Donaire and Rodriguez.
“Because Oubaali can’t be ready to fight Donaire in time because of the virus, and because we didn’t want to hurt the show or anything, what we did was agreed to let Donaire fight Rodriguez for the vacant WBC title and agreed that Oubaali would fight the winner of that fight.”
Yalen said that Oubaali began to feel weak and had difficulties in his training about two weeks ago.
“His trainer and brother, Ali, noticed that Nordine felt weak one day and said, ‘Hey, let’s tone down training for the day,’ ” Yalen said. “But when it happened the next day and then three days in a row, they knew something was wrong. He got tested, and it was positive for COVID.”