In a bizarre, anti-climactic, and maybe even downright shameful turn of events, Nonito Donaire picked up a fourth world title today in Macau, winning after four rounds via technical decision when referee Luis Pabon stopped the fight due to a cut suffered by Donaire at the end of the first round.
Donaire won on impossible but announced scores of 49-46, most likely just ring announcer Lupe Contreras reading the scores wrong, and meaning to say 39-36. BLH had it 38-37 for Donaire at the time of the stoppage, giving him the last two rounds, with an extra point off of Vetyeka's score via a third round knockdown on one of Donaire's famed left hooks.
The fight was a sloppy mess from the get-go, foreshadowing, perhaps, the ultimate fustercluck that the entire event became. Vetyeka (26-3, 16 KO) was indeed a little dirty in the early going, as the two fighters kept smashing heads, which seemed in the moment to be more the South African's doing than Donaire's.
Donaire (33-2, 21 KO) did complain to referee Pabon -- an increasingly infamous figure for fight fans -- plenty in the opening two rounds, but to be fair, he had something to complain about, and to his credit, he came out gunning in rounds three and four, feeling a sense of urgency.
Why the urgency? Because it wasn't clear if Pabon ever ruled the nasty gash that opened on Donaire's left eye at the end of round one as being caused by a headbutt, meaning Donaire may have felt he was in imminent danger of the cut stopping the fight, resulting in a TKO loss.
Instead, after the fourth round, Pabon consulted with WBA officials and allegedly the fight doctor, and decided to stop the bout. That gave Donaire the technical decision win, and sparked yet another outrage from fans and media watching the fight.
This is questionable at best, flat-out corrupt at worst, and given boxing's history and reputation, anyone might be forgiven for expecting the worst. Donaire said he wants to give Vetyeka a rematch, and if he does, then good on him, because from where I sit, the defending titleholder was jobbed today in Macau, and deserves another crack.
Making matters worse was that it was turning into a good fight after a very rocky start, with both guys ready to throw down and fire big shots, looking for the knockout. Instead, we got one of boxing's more underrated officiating catastrophes, the "nothing that turns into something that will eventually turn into nothing" ending. Soon enough, this will most likely all be ignored, as more fights come and go, beginning this afternoon in London with Carl Froch and George Groves, and attention will slip from what happened here, and it all will be as though nothing ever happened.
But something was wrong with what we saw today. I can't say with any certainty what that something is, but if you're not smelling a rat or a big box of fish carcasses right now, I can't tell what sport it is that you're watching anymore.