MANILA, Philippines - In a "Fight of the Year" candidate, Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire overcame a gutsy challenge from Mexican foe Cesar Juarez to win via unanimous decision and claim the vacant WBO super bantamweight belt Saturday in Puerto Rico.
Donaire got off to a fast start and seemed to be on his way to finishing the match early, but Juarez showed tremendous heart in fighting back and had "The Filipino Flash" in deep trouble multiple times in the second half of the fight.
Still, Donaire was the clear winner in the early rounds and did enough in the latter part of the bout, eventually claiming a 116-110, 116-110, and 117-109 victory.
Donaire knocked down Juarez twice in the fourth round, first via a huge right hook and then again with his trademark left, but the Mexican survived the count both times.
A slip in the sixth round when he appeared to get tripped by the referee visibly affected Donaire's movement. Juarez began to assert himself then, even opening up a cut above Donaire's eye while shaking off the Filipino fighter's punches.
Donaire went down in the tenth round, but it was ruled a slip by the referee. He and Juarez continued trading blows until the final bell, with "The Filipino Flash" surviving the Mexican's final attempt at a knockout.
With the win, Donaire improved to 36-3 in his career, while Juarez dropped to 17-4.
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