NONITO Donaire Jr. didn’t have a lot of trouble dispatching Jeffrey Mathebula and wresting the South African’s version of the world super-bantamweight title belt.
Now, time to look on at bigger fights ahead.
The `Filipino Flash’ bolstered his claim as the best in the 122-lb. division with a convincing unanimous decision over the tall, lanky South African Saturday night (Sunday, Manila time) as he unified the World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Federation titles at the Home Depot Center in Carson City, California.
Donaire, 29, won it by scores of 119-108 (Deon Duarte), 117-110 (Jonathan Davis), and 118-109 (Steve Morrow), highlighting his dominance with a sensational knockdown in the fourth of the scheduled 12-round bout when he sent Mathebula to the canvas with a solid left just as the round was coming to an end.
The 29-year-old Philippine-born champion now based in California, kept his 11-year unbeaten streak going and put him in line for a possible shot at either Abner Mares or Guillermo Rigondeaux in his bid to become the undisputed champion in the division.
Mares holds the World Boxing Council 122-lb. crown, while Rigondeux is super-bantamweight king of the World Boxing Association.
“I attacked, I had a good balance, and I had a lot of fun in there,” said Donaire, who hasn’t lost since 2001 following a fifth-round unanimous decision against Rosendo Sanchez.
“My goal is to be a unified champion. I want to unify all of the belts at 122.”
But Donaire, who once held world title belts at flyweight and bantamweight, also didn’t discount the possibility of going up at featherweight.
“One more belt and I’m good to go to 126,” he told the mostly Filipino-American audience that curiously included super-bantamweight title contender Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan.
Mathebula began to fight at a distance and used his reach advantage following the knockdown. The 33-year-old South African succeeded for a while as he kept Donaire at bay with his vicious jabs.
“It was tough. He got me off the jab really well,” admitted Donaire, splendid in his Bruce Lee-yellow trunks and robe. “That jab really took me out of my power range.”
But Donaire came back strong in the later rounds, connecting on several more lefts that by the time the 11th round was over, Mathebula was bleeding heavily in the mouth.
The Filipino Flash improved to 29-1, with 18 KOs in winning his second fight this year. He scored a split decision over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. of Puerto Rico five months ago to seize the WBO super-bantamweight belt.
Fighting out of South Africa for just the second time, Mathebula lost in his first defense of the IBF crown he won by split decision over compatriot Takalani Ndlovu. His record fell to 26-4-2, with 14 KOs.
“He’s a great champion. He wouldn’t let me get in there and let me work,” Donaire said of his South African opponent.