Nonito Donaire Jr. (36-3, 23 knockouts) has done us proud once again. Junjun captured the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior featherweight title after defeating Mexican Cesar Juarez (17-4, 13 KOs) via unanimous decision last December 12 (Manila time) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Filipino Flash won by scores of 116-110, 116-110, and 117-109.
The scores might have looked lopsided, but it really didn’t represent just how competitive the fight was. Donaire went through hell to get his hands on the belt, his seventh major career title overall. The gutsy Mexican made sure that the former pound-for-pound ranker would earn it with a lot of pain and blood.
Donaire outclassed Juarez during the first half of the fight, dismantling him with precise jabs and uppercuts. Then, Nonito unleashed his deadly left hook and dropped his opponent twice in the fourth round. The first knockdown might have been a miscall, after the replay showed that their legs got tangled. The second knockdown was indisputable though, as Donaire clearly caught Juarez with a nasty left hook straight to the temple.
Still, the brave Juarez collected himself and continued to pressure Donaire.
Near the end of the sixth round, the Filipino Flash twisted his ankle while backpedalling in the ring. Juarez immediately seized the opportunity, attacking the hampered Donaire with pressure punches and loaded haymakers on the fly.
His speed and footwork compromised, Donaire put his back on the ropes for most of the second half of the fight, getting hammered left and right by a rejuvenated Juarez. However, Donaire would retaliate in the championship rounds, answering with heavy counters every time he got pushed back.
In the final round, both fighters laid everything on the line. Both bloodied, they began exchanging fists in the middle of the ring, swinging heavy shots at each other in hopes of a getting a KO.
Donaire landed the bigger punches, and despite being at a disadvantage with his injury, showed grit and perseverance en route to the win.
The Donaire-Juarez bout was filled with enough fireworks that boxing fans immediately dubbed it as a Fight of the Year candidate. It definitely gets our vote. We don't get to see boxing matches with Hollywood-caliber drama that often, and we're just happy our guy's a champ again.
Below, we give you all of Donaire-Juarez's jaw-breaking moments, their savagery looped perpetually in glorious GIFs.
Here's Donaire proving that he's still an elite boxer, methodically picking apart his opponent with blinding counters.
The first knockdown may have been controversial, but one thing's for sure: That overhand right hurt Juarez good.
Donaire's notorious left hook makes an appearance!
Nonito's grit and iron spirit were on full display as Juarez pinned him to the ropes, and bombarded him with heavy punches.
The Filipino Flash may have been working on one foot, but that didn't stop him from evading his opponent's haymakers in Mayweather-esque fashion. Just look how smooth those dodges were!
A fine, fine slugfest
Here's a crafty, little switcheroo from our local hero!
This scene almost gave us a heart attack.
Props to Juarez for his tenacity
Last 10 seconds!
And the new champion!
For the full fight highlights, check out the video below:
Image from Toprank.com