Donaire takes Mathebula's belt
Nonito Donaire beat South Africa’s Jeffrey Mathebula on points in Carson, Califfornia, on Saturday night.
The Filipino added Mathebula’s IBF super-bantamweight title to his WBO belt when he won by unanimous decision – his 28th consecutive victory.
Donaire won 117-110, 118-109 and 119-108 after knocking his opponent down with a vicious left hook in the fourth round.
Improving his record to 29-1, with 18 knockouts, the four-division champion landed bigger shots and showed more aggression throughout the bout.
But "Mongoose" Mathebula used his 11cm height advantage and a tremendous work rate to keep the bout competitive.
The Filipino Flash finished with a strong final round, winning comfortably on all three scorecards at the Home Depot Centre.
"It was tough. He got me off the jab really well," Donaire said. "That jab really took me out of my power range. He's a great champion. He wouldn't let me get in there and let me work."
Donaire used an extensive variety of punches against Mathebula, whose record now stands at 26-4-2, repeatedly attempting to land knockout shots from all angles.
"I attacked, I had good balance, and I had a lot of fun in there," Donaire said. "My goal is to be a unified champion. I want to unify all of the belts at 122 (pounds)."
Donaire landed his biggest punch in the fourth round, dropping Mathebula with a left hook that recalled his knockout punch against Vic Darchinyan in July 2007.
Mathebula's feet left the ground when he tumbled into the corner right before the bell, but he gathered his wits on his stool and came back with a courageous fifth round.
Mathebula's camp said he cracked a tooth during the 11th round, and the pain affected his attack.
Mathebula had won his belt with a split-decision victory over Takalani Ndlovu in March, but was fighting outside South Africa for just the second time in his career.
"It's very hard to box a very tall fighter like that, but he broke him down round by round," said Robert Garcia, Donaire's trainer.
KELLY PAVLIK WINS COMFORTABLY
On the undercard, former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik also got a comfortable unanimous decision over Will Rosinsky in an all-American bout.
Pavlik, who improved his record to 40-2; 34, won his fourth bout in a row since taking a year off after losing his two middleweight belts to Sergio Martinez in April 2010.
Pavlik has rebuilt his career and his life after breaking free of bad influences in Youngstown, Ohio, and moving his training camp to Ventura, California, under Garcia's training.
The Ghost’s victory over Rosinsky (16-2) was his second fight in four weeks. The former champion persevered despite a cut above his left eye to pick apart his opponent, landing most power punches (45-33) and a total of 227-159.
"He's a very good, solid fighter, very busy," Pavlik said of Rosinsky. "He gave me good work. I always thought I was ahead, but now I want a big fight."
Pavlik mentioned Lucian Bute and Andre Ward as possible next opponents.