Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire (36-3, 23 KO’s) displayed skills, guts and heart of a champion and claimed title, once again, in the super bantamweight division, in what turned out a potential Fight of the Year candidate.
The FOTY possibility could not be achieved without the unflinching guts, grits tough as concrete nail in Cesar Juarez. He showed what it is like to be a proud warrior. Juarez (17-4, 13 KO’s) may not have sound boxing skills and experience to back it up, but his heart and relentless pressure to force Donaire to fight his game made the fight so thrilling and explosive till the end.
There’s no questioning about the guts, and toughness of Juarez. He was absorbing all the best shots of Donaire. Ranging from Donaire’s right straight and vaunted left hook. But oh man! Juarez is such a proud warrior willing to take it all in front of the Puerto Rican crowd in Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico. However, the difference in class was very evident. Donaire’s boxing skills is way above but Juarez’s heart and toughness is no doubt in a much higher level.
The first three rounds is all about Donaire. He was light on his feet, sharp-shooting the predictable Juarez.
Things got much in Donaire’s favor in Round 4.
Donaire scored two knockdowns in Round 4 in what looked like a fight that would not last the distance. Looks like another short night in favor of Donaire. But Juarez brushed the cob-webs off and continued the pressure. The younger Juarez was quick to recover in less than 10 count from the referee. Donaire, an excellent finisher, was unable to finish the work at hand.
In Round 6, some serious concern on Donaire’s corner when he slipped and got up limping. It looked like something was not right on his ankle. The referee gave him a time to feel his ankle. After few seconds, he continued to fight.
In Round 7, Juarez got the better out of Donaire who seemed a little bit tired. Donaire didn’t get past three rounds in disposing opponents his last two fights. Juarez, 24, started walking Donaire, 33, towards the ropes, and then pounded him there with hard shots to the head and body. But Donaire, was able to time and counter Juarez with power left hooks and right straights that wobbled Juarez several times.
In Round 9, Donaire started back to his foot and trying to box around again with his jabs. But Juarez was persistent in stalking Donaire. His only chance is when Donaire’s back against the rope enabling him to land his shots.
In the championship rounds, Donaire is well ahead from the judges scorecards. He can disengage and dance away from Juarez if he wanted to and still won on points. But obviously his mind is willing but his feet were not, plus the unwavering pressure of Juarez. Both men ended the fight locked nose to nose and let their hands fly till the final bell.
In the end, the official scores were: 166-110, 116-110 and 117-109 all in favor of Donaire for the unanimous decision win.