Santiago beats Donaire for WBC bantam title

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Photo: Emily Harney

By Jeff Zimmerman at ringside

Bantamweight Alexandro Santiago (28-3-5, 14 KOs) hammered out a twelve round unanimous decision over future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire (42-8, 28 KOs) to claim the vacant WBC bantamweight title formerly held by Naoya Inoue on Saturday night at the sold out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

In round one, Santiago threw punches while Donaire pressed, showing feints, patiently waiting for the big punch. Santiago established the jab in round two, as Donaire continue to come forward. The action picked up as Santiago landed a body shot to close the round.

In round three, Santiago got Donaire to the ropes and landed a few wild shots, before Donaire countered with a huge left hook that sent Santiago backwards. Both fighters exchanged shots in round four and five as Santiago landed an impressive three shot flurry in round six. From round seven to the final bell, Santiago stepped on the gas and landed three straight combinations to the head and body. Santiago also suffered a cut in the corner of his left eye after the two collided. After a quick check from the doctor, the fight continued. In round eight and nine, Santiago went for the knockout but could not put Donaire away. Santiago teed off again in round eleven with fast combos as Donaire just could not let his hands go enough. He tried valiantly to land his patented left hook he learned from Nicaraguan legend Alexis Arguello, but Santiago was able to take his best shot tonight.

The scores read 115 – 113, 116-112 twice as Santiago earned the WBC bantamweight title in his second attempt at a world championship. He earned a draw in his first attempt in 2018 versus Jerwin Ancajas.

The question is where does Donaire go from here. He would have become the oldest world champion today at 40 and is no doubt a first ballot hall of famer when he decides to hang up the gloves. He lost to “The Monster” Inoue twice with two wins in between versus Gaballo and Oubaali, so he could still compete at the highest level. He told Jim Gray in the ring post-fight that things were not clicking, but he gave no indication he was retiring.

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  • I am hoping Donaire retires now…….. Durable yes but that half second slower is making all the difference now

    • Agreed, good win for Santiago but Donaire is just a shell of his old self.

      He was a great fighter, future hall of famer but it’s time for him to retire, NOBODY beats father time.

  • I wonder if this was a case of nonito getting old or lack of an experienced trainer in order to keep most of his purses or did not Santiago seriously

  • Santiago can scrap because of his decent hand speed, good combination punches, mean streak and some defense.

    Unfortunately, Donaire should retire because his timing, reflexes and body movements no longer have high spirits. Most importantly, Donaire’s punches do not have that live snap and speed. The mind says yes, but the body says #%**}# NOPE.

    Get ready for the HOJ, Donaire.

    • Agree E-Man in part…in my opinion…Donaire should retire…If …Donaire cannot understand his limitations due to time and age..negotiate and evolve his skills based on his limitations and knowledge….like Foreman …Hopkins…Walcott.and.Archie Moore….Donaire knows how to fight…has to make adjustments to fight at a high level..due to age…a trainer once told me that the body was like a cabinet door hinge…when brand new…works flawlessly…through time for whatever reasons can still function…but squeaks..needs adjustments…just don’t perform due to age…wear and tear…in boxing that can be deadly…a fraction of a second delay can be deadly..cause you don’t play boxing…Roy Jones is a great example of this reasoning…Donaire can still fight though…can see the passion…

  • Donaire is great and has had a great career, at this point, just take some easy goodbye/payday fights, you earned a break.

  • There are many abilities that a great fighter with power on his hands tend to lose when is aging: Quickness and snap on his punches, stamina, reflexes, coordination on his footwork and some others. When that start to be evident, is better to walk away, hang up the gloves to avoid unpleasant consequences. Sadly, one of the best in the game, a real warrior, Nonito Donaire, is in this stage. Hopefully he will reach a conclusion that his best days are long gone, and decide to retire

  • Nonito played it safe based on “taking a shot” last fight per his words. But Santiago is nowhere near the level Nonito has been most of his career. Nonito was defensive but I thought that would erode after a couple of rounds and that he would be more aggressive. But it was just flashes of aggression. I would have like him to be stay on top and follow up with combinations. Santiago is tough but not a big talent. (He’s not going to hold the belt long unless they feed him chumps) So my only conclusion was that age has caught up to donaire and that he could not sustain the energy for a high output. I thought it was a reasonable close fight, and the people with me also agreed that Steve Farhood was way off, and he typically scores fights well more often than not. But this time I disagree. I don’t expect Nonito to spring back after this. He will probably have another 9 to 12 month layoff at least, and I don’t think his speed and aggression will improve. It’s too bad, I had rooted for him to take out Santiago.

  • Painfull to watch Donaire beat by a Santiago he would’ve knocked out 3 years earlier ! It’s time to retire for Nonito now..

  • Nino was an all time great champion even past his prime, but it’s time to say when and when is now. A classy guy, great champion but he like Pacquiao their time has come and gone.

  • Despite his decline, Donaire is still dangerous at the contender level. Impressive for his age. He had a great career. No shame in hanging up the gloves now. Congratulations to Santiago on his newborn and his win! He won that for his kid! What a beautiful moment!

    • Agree…Good post Al….shout out to Santiago..for getting the win …well done!!!

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