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.