By Bert Eljera
For The Filipino Flash, Nonito Donaire Jr., the ladder was not a steep climb after all.
It took some effort, but in the end, Donaire took care of South African Jerry Mathebula to move a step closer to his quest of unifying all world titles in the 122-pound weight division in boxing.
Often leaping to land his punches, the 5’6 Donaire chased Mathebula, who is nearly six-feet tall, around the ring to win a unanimous decision Saturday night in Carson, Calif.
“My goal is to be a unified champion. I want to unify all of the belts at 122,” Donaire said after he was declared winner.
South African judge Deon Dwarte scored it 119-108, California’s Steve Morrow, 118-109, and Jonathan Davis, a Filipino-American, had it 117-110, all for Donaire.
Cheered on by a predominantly Filipino-American crowd of about 3,000, the 29-year-old Donaire tried to end the fight early with stinging shots to Mathebula’s body.
But the South African, using his reach and height advantage, shot effective jabs and landed as many power punches as Donaire (91-102) according to CompuBox statistics.
The 33-year-old Mathebula, in fact, threw more punches, 919-515, and landed more, 231-151, but Donaire scored the more telling blows.
In the fourth round, Donaire, who has lost just one time in 30 bouts, connected on a left hook that sent the 5’11 Mathebula down briefly to the canvas.
Even though he continued to flick jabs, Mathebula was on the run after that, and Donaire, eager to please the crowd, kept stalking him around the ring, swinging wildly at times in his effort to score a knock-out.
In the 11th, another jarring blow to the jaw broke Mathebula’s tooth, although a ring doctor allowed him to continue the fight.
“It was tough,” 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.”
Mathebula, who lost for fourth time against 26 victories and two draws, said he lost fair and square.
“The better man won,” he said.