Nonito Donaire did it again, making more history in his legendary career, as he stopped Nordine Oubaali in the fourth round to win the WBC bantamweight title, becoming at 38 the oldest major bantamweight champion in boxing history.
Donaire (41-6, 27 KO) felt Oubaali out for the first round, with Oubaali darting in and out, displaying some energy, maybe looking to see if he could get Donaire to bite on something.
But Donaire stayed composed, and by the second round was finding a home for his counter right hand, which has become a bigger weapon as he’s aged into his career. Then in the third, he found Oubaali (17-1, 12 KO) with his real trademark, the counter left hook, and put the Frenchman on the canvas for the first time.
A second knockdown came very late in the third round, which may have been a punch that landed just after the bell, but was definitely not an intentionally late shot. Referee Jack Reiss counted it as a knockdown, and gave Oubaali, 34, every chance he could to recover and show he could continue into the fourth round. Oubaali, frankly, didn’t know where he was at that point, but he did get up and responded well enough for the referee.
Donaire found him again, and ended things at 1:52 of the fourth round, catching him with a series of shots that ended on another left hand. Reiss had seen enough then, and Donaire had once again proven just how great he really is.
“I believe that it matters not what your age is, it matters how you are mentally, how strong you are mentally,” Donaire said. “What I learned from (a 2019 loss to Naoya) Inoue is I’m back. I knew I could compete with him, and I was not fighting, I was learning. I’m ready for the next one!”
And yes, Donaire absolutely wants a rematch with Naoya Inoue.
“That’s what I wanted to win this fight, because that’s my next goal,” he said. “The only thing I haven’t done in boxing is become undisputed, and the next phase is getting the rematch.”
Subriel Matias RTD-8 Batyr Jukembayev
A good fight, not quite a StubHub War of great legend, but a StubHub Battle of some note at the very least.
Matias (17-1, 17 KO) has definitely fully bounced back from his upset loss to Petros Ananyan in Feb. 2020, with this his second straight rather dominant performance, following an October win over Malik Hawkins.
Kazakhstan’s Jukembayev (18-1, 14 KO) had never fought outside of Quebec as a pro, and while supposedly the Kazakh Olympic coach said he was as good as Gennadiy Golovkin, he’s, y’know, not. That’s not in itself a huge slam or anything, there aren’t many fighters as good as GGG, and you don’t really make it to age 30 with 18 pro fights all in Quebec if you are, let’s put it that way.
But he’s a good fighter, it’s just that Matias was better here and gave him a lousy style matchup. Jukembayev started well, but while he can punch, he couldn’t dent the Puerto Rican, who is extremely tough and takes a great shot, and also throws back constantly, almost always in combination, and he kept getting to Jukembayev more than Jukembayev could get to him. Jukembayev also seemed to basically have one approach, and once that didn’t work so well anymore, he never quite got back into it.
The corner, led by trainer Manny Robles, stopped the fight after the eighth round. Jukembayev had been down in the fourth, and Matias just kept pouring on the pressure, making a mess of Jukembayev’s face. You have to trust a corner and a veteran trainer like Robles in this situation; if they don’t like what they’re seeing, it’s almost surely the smart move to stop it.
Matias can’t be ignored at 140. As much as the 29-year-old is good — and he is good — he has what seems to be a special level of grit and toughness and willingness to battle through a fight’s hard spots. This was an IBF eliminator, so he’ll be in line for a title fight soon enough, however the belts at junior welterweight shake out with Josh Taylor holding everything at the moment. More likely than not, Matias will wind up fighting for a vacant belt at some point, either late this year or early in 2022.
Gary Antuanne Russell RTD-6 Jovanie Santiago
When Jovanie Santiago lost a close, controversial decision to Adrien Broner, the question was whether Santiago turned out to be some hidden gem, or if maybe Broner had slipped that severely.
This fight suggests Broner has slipped that severely. Santiago (14-2-1, 10 KO) tried here, but the 31-year-old Puerto Rican couldn’t do much with Russell (14-0, 14 KO), who actually threw punches unlike Broner, and dominated the fight as a result. Santiago was down in the fourth round and took a beating in the sixth, after which his corner asked if he wanted to continue, and the fight was stopped.
Russell did call out the aforementioned Broner, who will probably say something or other in return, but I wouldn’t expect him to take the fight, or any fight until he needs the money again.
Asked if he thought Broner would actually accept a fight with him, Russell laughed and said, “That’s up to him to decide.”