As the four alphabet soup organizations have seen their prestige decline in recent years, boxing fans have increasingly come to view The Ring belt holder as the world champion of record in a given weight. Under most circumstances, a vacant Ring title can only be filled by a matchup between the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked fighters in a weight class.
But under certain conditions, The Ring editorial board will sometimes opt to recognize the winner of a one-and-three matchup as the champ. That is what is happening here. Nishioka is ranked No. 1 at 122, while Donaire is ranked No. 3.
Still, nobody can deny that Donaire is a special case. The Ring has him ranked No. 4 overall, pound-for-pound. While some writers, including myself, feel that is a bit high, by any rational standard his record at 118 and below, along with his continued success since moving to 122, most certainly justify a spot some place in the pound-for-pound Top 10.
In addition, in the wake of his July unanimous decision victory over Jeffrey Mathebula, he now holds the IBF and WBO straps. Nishioka has been the reigning WBC champ, and the winner of this fight will be recognized by the WBC as the "Diamond" world champ.
I have no idea exactly what a "Diamond" world champion is, but I do know the winner will be recognized as No. 1 in the world by three of the four major sanctioning bodies.
Given Donaire's overall resume, I have to agree with The Ring's decision to make the winner here their champion.
Meanwhile, No. 2 ranked Guillermo Rigendeaux, 10(8)-0, is left temporarily on the outside looking in. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and current WBA world champion has been a phenomenon since defecting from Cuba and turning professional in 2009, annihilating just about everyone in his path.
I have to believe the winner of Donaire-Nishioka will feel tremendous pressure to take on Rigendeaux next. If Donaire wins, he is a super star solidifying his pound-for-pound status. If Nishioka takes the bout, he will explode into the consciousness of the North American fanbase.
Rigendeaux will be waiting in the wings, a very highly thought-of and exciting southpaw, holding the final piece of the puzzle for becoming the true, undisputed 122 pound champion.
It could very well end up being among the most highly anticipated lower weight class bouts of recent years.