Donaire Jr defeats Vetyeka, wins featherweight title
MACAU – From the opening bell, Nonito Donaire Jr. looked intent to silence every detractor who had said he was not the in-ring executioner he was in the lower weights. He promised to be more versatile against IBF featherweight titleholder Simpiwe Vetyeka when they met on Saturday, May 31 at the Venetian Resort in Macau, and he was, landing jabs and overhand rights while not relying as much on his trademark left hooks.
And then all hell broke out.
A heartbeat after the bell for the first round rang, Donaire sank to the floor with blood streaming from his left eye. Donaire complained to referee Luis Pabon who seemed as overwhelmed by the situation as any professional could’ve been.
If he stopped the fight there, the main event at the Venetian Macau would’ve ended in an accidental foul technical draw, a most unsavory ending in an emerging boxing market still trying to establish itself.
Pabon did what he felt to be the right thing – he let the fight continue until one second into the fifth round, enacting the technical decision rule that allowed a fight to be decided prematurely.
That was just enough time for Donaire to separate himself on the scorecards from Vetyeka, who was making the first defense of the title he won with a sixth round technical knockout of Chris John in December.
Donaire weathered several damaging headbutts in round two before dropping wobbling Vetyeka with an overhand right in the third stanza. Donaire then put his biggest imprint on the fight in round four, dropping the South African Vetyeka with a left hook halfway into the round.
Vetyeka, 33, remained wily and survived but was hurt with another big left hook near the end of the fourth round. With blood streaming down his face, the end was nigh for Donaire and the referee knew it.
The fight was stopped and the referee collected the scorecards, all three of which read 49-46 for Donaire Jr., who wins his fifth world title in as many weight classes, earning him entry into an exclusive club that includes Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard.
Still, the unsavory, inconclusive ending leaves a bitter taste in Donaire's mouth which isn't blood.
"I got head butted in the first round, the referee wanted to stop it," said Donaire, who improves to 33-2 (21 knockouts). "He asked if I could see, I said I couldn’t see. He said 'should I stop it' and I didn’t want to stop it. I knew I didn’t have much time to do what I wanted to do in the fight.
"I couldn’t see on the right side, it was blurring. I couldn’t see his right hand where his power comes from. After the fourth round I couldn’t go any further."
"I promised I'd give him a rematch, it's an unfinished victory."
Vetyeka, 33, says he doesn't believe the cut was caused by a headbutt but rather a punch, which would've ended the fight by TKO in his favor. Vetyeka hangs onto hope that Donaire comes through with his promise for a rematch.
"He promised me a rematch and I hope that we get that," said Vetyeka (26-3, 16 KOs).
Bob Arum, who promoted the event under his Top Rank company, said a rematch between Donaire and Vetyeka would be his first priority before any other Donaire fights could be considered.
"You don’t like to see a fight end early but he’s the champion and he’s a real man and he said he didn’t like to win the title that way so he’s going to give the South African kid a rematch," said Arum.
Arum said that, if Manny Pacquiao's November 23 date ends up in Macau, he would consider hosting the rematch on that undercard. If that happened, it'd be the first time the two best Filipino fighters of this generation fought on the same card.
"I think if Pacquiao fight ends up here, why wouldn’t we add that to the card in addition to Zou Shiming’s title fight plus another fight. It’d be one of the greatest cards that they’re not going to top for years, no matter what happens with boxing in Asia." – Rappler.com