Donaire gets WBO-IBF titles
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Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire continued his winning streak, carving a convincing win against South African Jeffrey Mathebula in a July 7 bout at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
He won the judges’ nod 117-110, 118-109 and 119-108 to unify the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) super bantamweight titles (122 pounds).
"It was tough. He got me off the jab really well. That jab really took me out of my power range," Donaire was quoted by ESPN.
The Bohol-born, Bay Area-based Donaire (29-1, 18 by KO) knocked down Mathebula near the end of the 4th round.
He connected with a strong left hook to Mathebula’s chin, sending the South African to the canvas. It was similar to the punch that knocked out two of Donaire's previous opponents, Vic Darchinyan and Fernando Montiel.
But with little time remaining in the 4th round, Mathebula was saved by the bell, and managed to take the fight to the distance.
Donaire used an impressive arsenal Mathebula (26-4-2) but his opponent avoided punishing exchanges. "It's very hard to box a very tall fighter like that (Mathebula has a 5-inch height advantage)," said Donaire's trainer, Robert Garcia. "But he broke him down round-by-round."
It was only the 2nd time Donaire fought in the 122-pound bracket.
The Filipino champion obviously wanted to end the match on a spectacular note and stalked his prey throughout most of the latter rounds. Mathebula instead turned defensive, apparently contented to end the bout standing.
"The better man won. I respect him," Mathebula said in an ESPN interview. "I believe I showed that I had the heart of a warrior."
An avowed fan of compatriot Manny “The People’s Champ” Pacquiao, Donaire has made no secret of his intention to unify all the belts in the weight division, and even invited Japanese champion Toshiaki Nishioka up to ring following the fight.
"I have great respect for Nishioka, he'a very good champion," Donaire said, referring to the Japanese fighter who is the World Boxing Council’s "emeritus champion."
But Donaire is also open to fights against Abner Mares, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Jorge Arce.
Top Rank Promotions chief executive Bob Arum did not say who Donaire's next opponent will be, only saying that the fight will be on HBO, and "it's going to be against one of these great fighters."
The 30-year old Donaire held the belt in 4 different divisions. In addition to his latest acquisition of the unified WBO-IBF super bantamweight title, he is also the former WBC and WBO bantamweight, Interim WBA super flyweight and IBF flyweight champion.
Ring Magazine currently rates Donaire as 4th best pound for pound boxer in the world. (rjj)