|Donaire dropped Vazquez in the ninth round with an right uppercut-left hook combination.
MANILA, Philippines – (2nd UPDATE) Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire won the World Boxing Organization (WBO) super bantamweight title after defeating Pueto Rican fighter Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. via split decision Saturday at the Alamadome in San Antonio, Texas (Sunday morning in Manila).
Two judges gave the fight to Donaire, 117-110 and 117-110, while the other judge gave the bout to Vazquez, 115-112.
It was Donaire’s first fight at the 122-pound division after winning the WBC and WBO bantamweight belts.
The “Filipino Flash” won the bout despite sustaining an injury in his left hand during the fourth round; he said after the fight that it was “very painful.”
“Vazquez was tougher than I expected. I couldn’t find my rhythm and I hurt my hand somewhere between the second and fourth rounds,” Donaire told ESPN’s Dan Rafael. “I could only move it a little bit.”
Donaire was the busier fighter in the early rounds, using his longer reach and jab to target Vazquez from long range. Vazquez was also tentative in the first five rounds, allowing Donaire to build a big lead in the judges’ scorecards.
Vazquez started to engage Donaire in the middle rounds, with the two boxers exchanging fire from close range in the sixth and seventh rounds.
The referee gave Donaire a warning in the seventh round after he hit Vazquez below the belt, but the punch did not seem to affect Vazquez, as he continued to hit Donaire from the inside.
The night seemed to be over for Vazquez in the ninth round after Donaire dropped him with an right uppercut-left hook combination. Although Vazquez got back up, he was visibly stunned and spent the rest of the round retreating.
“When I knocked him down in the ninth round, that was the end of the hand,” Donaire said. “I was in agony.”
Donaire spent the latter rounds searching for the knockout, even dropping his hands to invite Vazquez to engage. But he failed to drop the Puerto Rican boxer, who showed remarkable toughness despite being a massive underdog.
“He’s realy quick,” Vazquez said. “He caught me with some good punches. He suprised me by hitting me when I was off-balance.”
“I thought I did pretty well, but he is a great fighter,” he added.
Donaire’s bout against Vazquez had considerably more action than his previous fight, wherein he shut out Argentinian boxer Omar Narvaez through 12 rounds.
But once again, Donaire failed to knock out his opponent as Vazquez proved to be a tough out for the “Filipino Flash.”
After the fight, Donaire reiterated that he plans to stay at the super bantamweight division for sometime, instead of moving up to featherweight immediately.
“I’m definitely staying at 122-pounds for a while. There are things that (trainer) Robert Garcia asked me do that I couldn’t do so well,” he said. “We will go back to the drawing board.”
Donaire is already seeking potential fights against Jorge Arce and Toshiaki Nishioka, and Cuban boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux has also called him out.
But plans for Donaire’s next fight may have to be put on hold as the Filipino boxer injured his left hand in the fourth round of his bout against Vazquez.
“Let’s see what happens with his hand first,” Top Rank chief executive officer Bob Arum said. “That will determine everything, but depending on the timing, we want him to face Arce next.”