Nonito Donaire’s title challenge of Simpiwe Vetyeka was cut short as Donaire beats Vetyeka under bizarre circumstances. Peter Wells reports.
By Peter Wells:
Since stepping in the ring with the exceptional Guillermo Rigondeaux, something has been missing from Nonito Donaire’s boxing. Rigondeaux altered Donaire’s style that night and thus far he has struggled to find the aggression he was so renowned for, at least for sustained periods in a fight.
Vic Darchinyan enjoyed far more success in their rematch, than anyone could have expected, before Donaire pulled it out of the bag in round 9. Then yesterday afternoon, in Macau, China, Nonito never got the chance to launch as he dethroned the WBA ‘Super’ Featherweight champion, Simpiwe Vetyeka. The victory came at the end of round 4, when Donaire informed the doctor he could not continue with a cut over his left eye, apparently caused by an accidental head butt. The fight went to the scorecards, where Donaire, who scored a knockdown in round 4, was ahead 49-46 on all three scorecards.
So now it’s time to dissect all the confusing factors in this fight. Probably the least important would be the scorecards, one must assume they should have read 39-36, but the ring announcer read out 49-46, despite the 5th round not even starting. While it likely made no difference, and may well have been a mistake, it does still add to the fallaciousness of the fight. I must also point out that neither fighter is to blame for this confusion, they both acted with class after the fight, despite the tough circumstances.
To add to the mystery, referee Luis Pabon never actually made ringside officials aware of the cause of the cut. He then asked the doctor at the end of the 4th, to which the doctor told him it was caused by a butt. Replays are inconclusive, it was either caused by a left jab that clearly brushed the corner of Donaire’s eyelid, or a potential accidental elbow, that may have caught Donaire in the same spot, either way it wasn’t a head butt. But had it been ruled as caused by a punch, then it would have been Vetyeka leaving with his biggest scalp to date.
Outside of the crazy conclusion the contest was beginning to warm up in the 4th, as Donaire – who was extremely bothered by the cut – leapt on Vetyeka, flooring the South African with a hard left. Vetyeka regained his composure as Donaire expended a lot of energy desperately looking for the stoppage. Prior to that, Vetyeka was frustrating a cautious Donaire, boxing well with his long limbs causing Donaire plenty of problems.
Donaire 33-2(21) was almost apologetic in the aftermath of the fight, and immediately offered Vetyeka an immediate rematch after the inconclusive finish. Vetyeka 26-3(16) was clearly disappointed, believing that the cut was caused by a punch.
After a fantastic performance, the WBA ‘regular’ Featherweight champion, Nicholas Walters will now have to wait for his merited shot at Nonito Donaire. Walters was superb when stepping up a level to face Vic Darchinyan, destroying the Armenian in 5 rounds.
Walters was not given an easy task whatsoever, having pushed Donaire last time out, Darchinyan is one of the most awkward fighters in the world. Constantly feinting with his arms and head, Walters looked tentative to let go until Darchinyan threw. That set for a cagey start to the contest, but in the 2nd round a quick right uppercut sent Vic to the canvas, a flash knockdown. Darchinyan recovered very well and took control of the rest of the round.
After outworking Walters in the 3rd and 4th – both close rounds – Darchinyan was shaken to his boots in the 5th as a cracking left hook sent the challenger to the canvas. Darchinyan tried to survive but could not deter Walters who’s natural power shone through again as he was knocked spark out by an outstanding left hook. Even slow motion could not slow the punch down as it sent Vic’s head spinning round before he crashed onto the bottom rope.
Walters improved to 24-0(20) with highlight reel knockouts becoming quite his speciality. Walters looks a true force at Featherweight and a dangerous opponent for Nonito Donaire. Darchinyan can still produce, but his punch resistance may be faltering – albeit there aren’t many Featherweights with the power of Donaire and Walters. Maybe Vic 39-7-1(28) will consider his future but his awkward style would cause problems for many other world title hopefuls at 126lbs.
To conclude the “Featherweight Fury”, Evgeny Gradovich 19-0(9) followed up his second victory over Billy Dib with a comfortable points win over the gutsy Alexander Miskirtchian 24-3-1(9).
Miskirtchian had some success, including a flash knockdown in the 6th, but outside of that the better boxing and better accuracy of Gradovich helped him control much of the contest.
After an entertaining 12 rounds for the IBF Featherweight title, Gradovich won by scores of 117-110 (twice) and 118-110.
On the untelevised undercard, the pick of the bunch was Chris Avalos 24-2(18) becoming the first man to stop Tasutaka Ishimoto 24-7(7) in 8 rounds at Super Bantamweight.
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