LAS VEGAS — Nonito Donaire rallied in the last three rounds but came up empty-handed Saturday night (Sunday morning Manila) as Jessie Magdaleno of the US captured the World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior-featherweight crown on a unanimous decision at the Thomas and Mack Center.
Magdaleno built a wide lead by controlling the first six rounds before Donaire forced him to soften up especially going into the eleventh and 12th.
All three judges saw it in favor of Magdaleno, a Las Vegas resident, who won by scores of 118-110 (Adalaide Byrd), 116-112 (Burt Clements and Steve Weisfeld).
Magdaleno, cut on the left eye owing to an accidental clash of heads, was ecstatic after the decision as announced.
“It feels great to be world champion,” said Magdaleno, 24, who ran his unbeaten record to 24-0 with 17 KOs. “I cant believe t right now. I really worked hard for this one. I can’t believe I beat a great fighter like Donaire.”
Donaire was disappointed when ring announcer Michael Buffer issued the official result.
“I can’t believe this. I don’t have words right now. Losing never crossed my mind.,” said Donaire, who saw his mark sink to 37-4 with 23 KOs.
Punch stats showed that Magdaleno threw a total of 500 punches and landed 154 for 32 percent. Donaire unleashed 404 and had 132 hits for 33 percent. But in the power punches department, Magdaleno had a razor-thin edge, 257-256.
The scorecards clearly didn’t reflect how close the fight was.
Magdaleno first showed what he could do when he slammed Donaire with a double right, one to the ribcage and one to the cheek in the second round.
Sensing that the challenger was starting to pick up on offense, Donaire made his presence felt by getting more involved in exchanges but shifted to being a stalker until he realized that the title was slowly slipping away from his hands.
But Magdaleno had another huge round in the ninth when he rained on a covering Donaire.
Donaire’s big moments came in the 10th when he quickly planted a right that sent Magdaleno reeling on the ropes.
Magdaleno tried to stand up to Donaire’s last-ditch rally and got struck several times, enabling the Filipino-American to gain control.