Last night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA, super bantamweight Nonito Donaire added another title to his trophy cabinet by winning the IBF belt from Jeffrey Mathebula.
Donaire came into the contest bearing the WBO 122 pound trophy after capturing world titles at bantam super fly and flyweight while Mathebula, who had previously lost a controversial split decision to Cellestino Caballero for the WBA and IBF crowns in 2009, won the IBF strap four months ago with a split decision over Takalani N'dlovu.
At 5'11, Mathebula towered over 5'5 Donaire, who appeared to be at least two weight divisions smaller than the amazingly tall South African.
Once the bell rang, Donaire displayed an uncanny ability to erase that height differential by leaping inside and launching quick overhand shots that showed a clear edge in quickness for the Filipino boxer.
After getting caught with a few of these lightning quick shots, Mathebula discovered that his best weapon would be the jab and the 33 year old from Brakpan began to use the punch in earnest.
As long as he used his own jab, Donaire was effective in navigating the distance Mathebula tried to maintain but to often the California resident tried to land his shots with no precursor.
This resulting in openings for Mathebula to exploit and the busier South African had landed a considerable number of jabs and right hands in the early rounds.
Donaire wasn't to be denied however and cracked the bout wide open with a hard counter left that startled Mathebula, dropping "The Mongoose" to the canvas for the first time in his career.
Mathebula beat the count on very shaky legs and was no doubt saved by the bell as the round ended before combat could resume.
Mathebula made somewhat of a comeback in the fifth, fighting with more caution and taking advantage of Donaire's eagerness to repeat the knockdown, but still was getting clipped with hard shots.
The sixth sees Mathebula effectively outwork Donaire, landing jabs and long rights as "The Fillipino Flash" lands a few but not the big punches he's angling for.
Mathebula takes a breather in the seventh, allowing Donaire to get in some good work before both boxers slow down for an uneventful eighth. The ninth sees Donaire land the better shots but Mathebula is busier in the tenth going into the championship rounds.
Donaire enjoys a resurgence in the eleventh, hurting Mathebula with a big right but he can't finish off the lanky African. The final round sees Donaire open up and catch Mathebula again but the IBF king refuses to bend, catching Donaire with both hands before Donaire scores again to end the bout.
When the scores are read Donaire wins a rather wide 118-109, 119-108, 117-110 unanimous decision.
Donaire raises his record to 29-1 (18), winning his 28th straight contest. Mathebula falls to 26-4-2 (14), going 1-2 in world title fights.
Former Unified middleweight king Kelly Pavlik, 40-2 (34), was also on the bill at Home Depot Center, in action for the third time this year at super middle with a ten rounder against New York's Will Rosinsky, 16-2 (9).
Pavlik looked to be headed for an early night after dropping Rosinsky in the second but "The Ghost" couldn't finish off his foe and the contest went the full ten rounds.
Rosinsky had his moments during the bout, landing hard rights and taking the power of the former champion well. Pavlik was in control most of the way but continues to struggle following his loss to Bernard Hopkins in 2008.