Nonito Donaire's matchup with Zsolt Bedak could have gone a couple of ways. Bedak, at 5'4", is smaller than Donaire, and historically, Donaire has absolutely smashed guys around that same size. But Bedak, a former Hungarian Olympian, has also never really been an aggressor, and when Donaire is tasked with leading action, he's often spent a lot of time waiting for the other fighter to give him something to counter.
It went the first way. Bedak was overpowered by Donaire, who knocked the Hungarian down twice in the second round and again in the third, leading to a stoppage by referee Russell Mora, and a successful defense of the WBO super bantamweight title in Cebu City, Philippines.
Donaire (37-3, 24 KO) was able to land his left hook in the second round, using a pair of them to drop Bedak (25-2, 8 KO) for the first time. Donaire looked completely confident in himself at that point, knowing his shots could (frankly, rather easily) hurt Bedak, so he attacked a bit more than he normally does. He dropped Bedak again on what wound up almost an overhand left hook, with some downward chopping action, just before the bell to end the second round.
The third round was Donaire headhunting for the finish, and he put Bedak back on the canvas late in the round with a right hand. The challenger got to his feet and looked to his corner, and referee Russell Mora asked him some questions. Mora apparently was not satisfied with the answers, and called the fight there.
It was a mismatch, which most expected going in, given that Bedak, 32, really has no truly quality wins in his career, and was overpowered easily by Wilfredo Vazquez Jr back in 2010. As a homecoming title defense for Donaire, it was a fine stay-busy sort of fight, but the calls will be out there for him to face a legitimate contender next. A rematch with Cesar Juarez would surely be welcome following their December war, and the current No. 1 contender ranked by the WBO is Jessie Magdaleno, which is fairly laughable considering Magdaleno has only ever had two fights even scheduled for 10 rounds. The 122-pound division isn't what it was even a few months back, but there are still some potentially interesting fights out there, and Donaire may really still be the biggest name in the division, too.
Paul Fleming UD-10 Miguel Angel Gonzalez
Australia's Fleming (22-0, 14 KO) won this fight pretty handily, though he did get knocked down very early in the first round. It was a flash knockdown, and he pretty much dominated from there. Well, maybe dominated is too strong a word. He never did any real damage, and the fight had some pretty frequent lulls in action, as both guys wanted to counter punch more than lead the action. But it was Fleming doing the better work, and showcasing the clearly superior skills. Gonzalez (22-8-1, 12 KO) won no rounds on my card after the first, losing 98-91, and the official judges had it 96-93, 97-92, and 97-92.
Mark Magsayo TKO-6 Chris Avalos
Featherweight prospect Magsayo passed a fairly big test here, getting off the canvas to stop veteran and former world title challenger Avalos in the sixth round.
Magsayo (14-0, 11 KO) started fast in the fight, winning the first round, and then dominating the first minute and change of the second with a massive assault that had Avalos (26-5, 19 KO) reeling and in serious trouble. But Avalos was able to stay on his feet, somehow, and Magsayo punched himself out a bit, giving the veteran a chance to get his legs back underneath him as the round wore on.
Avalos must have felt a chance coming to him the rest of that round, because he entered the third frame quite aggressively, and dropped Magsayo later in that round on a pair of left hooks. With Magsayo now reeling, Avalos looked to finish, but Magsayo was able to hold at the right times if nothing else.
Still, the fourth round made it look like Avalos had firmly taken control. He continued to fight with confidence, and Magsayo abandoned combinations in favor of the occasional predictable haymaker. Avalos did some ugly if effective body work in this round, continuing to target the gas tank of the 20-year-old prospect.
Magsayo, though, came out blazing in the fifth round, and had Avalos pretty badly hurt in the final minute. In fact, Avalos barely survived the round, wobbling to his corner after taking two more clean shots just before the bell. In all reality, he was probably still too dazed to be going out for the sixth, but out he went -- with the ABS-CBN commentary saying that the referee pulled him off his stool to send him back out there. He was in survival mode from the get-go in round six, but Magsayo was hunting by this point, seeing that clearly, Avalos was still hurting. Magsayo attacked, and stopped Avalos as he unleashed another big flurry of shots. The referee jumped in to stop the fight with Avalos still on his feet, with Avalos' corner throwing the towel at pretty much the exact same time.
If nothing else, Magsayo is going to be a fun fighter to watch. He passed a couple tests here today -- first, just the step up in quality against a guy like Avalos, who is no world beater but fit this bill very nicely, and second, he overcame some real adversity and some mistakes made. There's a lot of fine-tuning to be done with Magsayo, obviously (he's 20, after all), but the potential is obviously there.
Jason Pagara UD-10 Miguel Zamudio
Scores were wide, and should have been. Pagara won 99-91, 98-92, and 98-92, with BLH scoring it 99-91. The Filipino was faster and far more mobile than Zamudio (35-9-1, 21 KO), who fought tough but was outclassed, which has been a recurring theme in his career. At 24, Zamudio looks as slow and worn out as Alfredo Angulo did against James de la Rosa a couple years back, or Antonio Margarito did in his comeback fight this year. But unlike those guys, he doesn't have the crazy offensive energy. Also his footwork is worse, and those two are not exactly Mayweathers. Anyway, Pagara (38-2, 23 KO) looked good here, but not like a serious world contender, really.
Rocky Fuentes MD-8 Romnick Magos
The majority decision scores (78-74, 78-74, 76-76) might make you think that this was a competitive fight, but it wasn't, really. I'm also not saying it was easy for Fuentes -- whom I gave a 79-73 card -- because he had to earn it against a younger, tough fighter who did throw everything he had at Fuentes. It's just that Magos (12-6, 7 KO) didn't have much to throw at Fuentes besides effort. Fuentes (37-8-2, 21 KO) wasn't exactly great here, but he was the better, more polished fighter throughout, and landed the cleaner shots. It was an awkward bout, sloppy at times, but fairly easy to watch and with no big lulls in action. Fuentes, 30, had a couple of world title shots at 112 in 2014, losing to Amnat Ruenroeng and Roman Gonzalez. Now at 115, he might find himself getting another shot if he can just win a couple more fights.