Alexandro Santiago (28-3-5, 14 KOs) of Mexico used his superior speed to outsmart the legendary Nonito Donaire (42-8, 28 KOs), capturing the vacant WBC Bantamweight World Championship after a grueling 12 rounds of action. The fight was scored 116-112 twice and 115-113 in Santiago’s favor.
“It’s difficult to articulate this moment,” an emotional Santiago shared, who added his name to the SHOBOX: The New Generation® list of champions, becoming the 90th fighter to earn this distinction. “All the efforts we poured in for this very moment… Winning this title is truly amazing.”
“I’m disappointed,” admitted Donaire. “Nonetheless, it’s a blessing to have been in this for so long. I still feel good. Congratulations to Alexandro. He deserves it. He’s a tough contender.”
The 27-year-old Santiago, despite being the underdog against four-division champion Donaire, consistently outmaneuvered him with a mix of jabs, straight rights, and left hooks. Donaire managed to land his signature power left hook at several instances throughout the bout, but Santiago stood firm and showed no signs of faltering.
“I was excessively focused on countering and injecting power into my moves,” Donaire acknowledged. “I tried to embody the spirit of a warrior, something we didn’t necessarily prepare for.”
Over the course of the 12 rounds, both fighters landed an equal number of punches (130), but Santiago had a slight advantage in power punches landed (62-53). Interestingly, Donaire outlanded Santiago in the first six rounds, before Santiago turned the tide in the second half. According to the judges’ cards, Santiago dominated the last half, winning all the final six rounds on one card, five of the last six on another, and four of the final six on the third card.
Donaire, at the age of 40, had been seeking to shatter his own record as the oldest fighter to claim a bantamweight world title. Now, he’s left contemplating the future of his distinguished career.
“I have a deep passion for the sport,” Donaire said. “We’ll retreat to the locker room, discuss, and see where we go from here. There were moments where I didn’t seize the opportunity. That was my biggest issue.”
Santiago was overcome with emotion as his victory was announced, and he received words of support from a gracious Donaire.
“Having the honor to compete against a legend like Nonito Donaire is unforgettable,” said Santiago. “He thanked me for a great fight and I deeply appreciate his kind words.”