After dominating the first six rounds of the contest tonight, former four division world champion Nonito Donaire (36-3, 23 KOs) was forced to struggle hard to beat a game but limited #1 WBO Cesar Juarez (17-4, 13 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision on Friday night to win the vacant WBO super bantamweight title at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Juarez was cheated out of a knockdown in the 10th round, when the referee blew the call by failing to score a knockdown after Juarez put Donaire down with a left hook. The knockdown wouldn’t have changed the results of the fight, but you’d like not see referees make blatant mistakes like the one tonight in the 10th. The final judges’ scores were 116-110, 116-110, 117-109.
Donaire looked great through six rounds, as he dropped Juarez twice in the 4th. However, after the 6th, Donaire started to fade and look his 33 years, as Juarez took control over the fight in the last six rounds and appeared to win all of them. But with Donaire dominating the first six rounds, he did enough to get the decision.
I thought the scores should have been closer though because Donaire really caved in during the last six rounds. He spent much of the time running, holding and covering up against the ropes while Juarez flurried on him with head and body shots. Juarez was able to cut off the ring on Donaire and nail with painful looking body shots and hard chopping head shots. Donaire tries to move his head to get out of the way of the constant barrage of punches, but there was just too many of them.
By the 9th round, Donaire’s face began to swell up and blacken around his left eye. The punches that Juarez was landing did a real job of rearranging Donaire’s features.
Both fighters stood toe-to-toe in the 12th round in throwing nonstop punches. Earlier in the round, Donaire had landed some really huge punches. But Juarez came on stop in the last minute and was able to punish a tired Donaire with flurries.
Donaire is going to need to be selective in the guys he faces as the WBO super bantamweight champion because I don’t think he’s got the youth to take too many more of the beatings he took tonight. Yeah, he won the fight, but he took a horrendous beating in the fight almost as bad as Juarez did. The 24-year-old Juarez had the youth to take the punishment and keep coming for 12 rounds. Donaire isn’t young, and he could find himself losing his WBO title quick if he fights someone good like Carl Frampton, Scott Quigg or Guillermo Rigondeaux. My guess is Top Rank will make sure Donaire doesn’t fight any of those guys.
The main event was far less interesting, as WBO Latino lightweight champion Felix Verdejo (19-0, 14 KOs) made easy work of an overmatched Josenilson Dos Santos (25-3, 15 KOs) in stopping him in the 2nd round. Verdejo landed a crushing right hand that dropped Dos Santos. The referee then stopped the fight after he got back to his feet. The fight was stopped at 2:21 of the round.
Dos Santos had been out of the ring for almost year and a half before tonight. Verdejo’s promoter can do better than this in selecting opposition for him. You expect better from a main event than mismatches like this. Dos Santos had been knocked out in his last fight before tonight.
Verdejo is ready to be put in with better opposition. Top Rank needs to start looking around for some quality guys to match him up rather than letting him stagnate in fighting guys that have no chance against him.