Victor Conte and Nonito Donaire have abruptly ended their business relationship less than a month before the junior featherweight world champion’s next title defense.
Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs), the consensus World Fighter of the Year in 2012, had been working closely with the famed nutritionist for the past three years. Known as “The Filipino Flash,” the 30-year-old from San Leandro won championship belts at 115, 118, and now 122 pounds during that span.
MaxBoxing.com’s Gabriel Montoya initially reported the news.
“I quit. I'm done working with Nonito. It was entirely my decision,” Conte said.
With Conte’s consultation, Donaire had also submitted to year-round random drug testing administered by the Voluntary Anti-Drug Association. Donaire stated he will continue to work with VADA; on Tuesday afternoon, the East Bay star sparred a few rounds even after blood and urine samples were procured.
[RELATED VIDEO: Donaire makes unprecedented promise]
“Regardless of the current standing of my relationship with Victor, I will still be actively enrolling myself in VADA and subjecting myself to 24/7/365 drug testing,” Donaire said.
The exact reason behind the split has not yet been revealed, but now the issue becomes the impact that the development will have on Donaire’s preparation for his Apr. 13 clash in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall with dangerous Cuban southpaw Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KOs).
The buildup to the Rigondeaux fight has been unconventional compared to past camps. Donaire has been periodically traveling back and forth between his training grounds of San Carlos and his second home of Las Vegas, where his wife Rachel is pregnant with their first child, a boy they plan to name Jarel.
“I love where I’m at right now, just talking to my baby every night on Skype,” Donaire told CSNBayArea.com last week. “I don’t want to miss a day when I’m talking to it. I go out there [to Las Vegas], but then I run Mount Charleston…We run about four to five miles, and then rest up, so there’s always something I try to find to justify my visit.”
Now Donaire will complete the final three weeks of camp without Conte, with whom he had developed a relationship so close he described it as “family.”
Conte, the former head of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), served four months in prison in 2006 for his role in distributing steroids, becoming a household name for his association with world-class athletes like Barry Bonds and Marion Jones.
However, Conte has since cleaned up his image and become a highly sought-after consultant and anti-doping activist. He currently runs Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning (SNAC), a nutrition company based in San Carlos that sells supplements such as ZMA.
Conte’s comeback was partially aided by his partnership with Donaire, whose endorsement in 2010 helped to lure other high-profile fighters to the Bay Area to work with SNAC. Thus, the breakup comes as surprising news given the bond that seemed to have cultivated between the two of them.
CSN Bay Area Boxing Insider Ryan Maquiñana is a voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and panelist for Ring Magazine’s Ratings Board. E-mail him at email@example.com, check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.