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Stepping up

Nonito Donaire was made to work against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr

Wayne McCullough Posted 6th February 2012 view comments

Puerto Rican Wilfredo "Papito" Vazquez Jr was fighting for the second time since he lost his WBO super bantamweight belt to Mexico's Jorge Arce in May 2011.

Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire, two weight division champion, was fighting for the first time in this new weight class. He had just moved up to bantamweight last February to dethrone champion Fernando Montiel in spectacular knockout fashion. Now after just one defence he was up another weight.

Nonito Donaire won on a split decision against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr

Nonito Donaire won on a split decision against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr

Vazquez Jr had lost only once in 23 fights while Donaire's only defeat out of 28 fights was to unknown Rosendo Sanchez in his second professional bout back in 2001.

Both guys are punchers, each with 18 KO's on their records. This fight was for the vacant WBO super bantamweight title since Arce had vacated that belt and was now holding the WBO title.

Prior to this fight I thought Donaire would have made short work of Vazquez Jr and ended the fight early. But it went the full 12 rounds and ended in a split decision.

The early rounds probably belonged to Donaire as he was the busier fighter, putting combinations together but Vazquez Jr was always in the fight. It seemed as though the son of three division champion Wilfredo Vazquez, "Papito", was just not putting enough punches together to win many rounds. Although Donaire looked like he had hurt his left hand in the fight he still had enough power.

Fightback

Donaire, at times, was more content to head hunt with his punches instead of investing quality shots to his opponent's body early in the fight. In the third round it looked as though Donaire had hurt Vazquez Jr but he rode the storm and came straight back.

In the middle rounds Vazquez Jr got his left jabs working and may have been stealing the rounds. By the last four the fight got a lot closer on my card. The ninth was a turning point for Donaire as he landed a left uppercut to his opponent's chin followed by another left, putting the Puerto Rican down. He got up pretty quickly and didn't look too badly hurt. Donaire had about 30 seconds left in the round to try for the finish but he didn't go for it.

There were no more knockdowns in the final three and Donaire, who looked like he had won convincingly, was not awarded the fight the way he expected. It was declared a split decision for Donaire with two of the judges giving it to him easily on scores of 117-110 but the other gave it to Vazquez Jr 115-112 which was ridiculous. Rounds were close but Donaire won maybe by three points and even got a 10-8 round in the ninth for the knockdown.

Vazquez Jr will be back but Donaire will now probably face Arce who always comes to fight and entertains the fans. Donaire did not look good here even though he may be one of the top five pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

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