Originally posted on The Queensbury Rules  |  Last updated 5/31/14
This is a post about what happened in the Nonito Donaire vs. Simpiwe Vetyeka featherweight fight in Macau, China. Since the fight will air live on HBO this afternoon, anyone who doesn’t want a spoiler should stop reading now. OK: That was a travesty. Donaire won a technical decision over Vetyeka at the exact moment he could, at the end of the 4th. There was so much that was wrong here. There was no sign that referee Luis Pabon ruled Donaire’s cut from a head butt, even though it wasn’t absolutely clear it was from a punch or elbow (I’d say elbow) or even a head butt, a cut deepened by repeated head butts. The doctor checked it out multiple times throughout the fight, and then Pabon chose the moment of the end of the 4th so it could go to the scorecards. Or maybe the WBA officials he consulted with told him to do that. And Donaire wanted the fight to end at that point, which he admitted in a post-fight interview. He scored a knockdown in the 4th and could’ve gone for the kill, but instead turned away and motioned toward his eye, prompting Pabon to have the doctor check him out once more (and apparently for the last time).  That knockdown sealed the win for him once it could have gone to the scorecards at the end of the 4th, assuming a head butt ruling was properly issued after the 1st round, or assuming that somebody figured they could get the ruling anyway. Without a proper head butt ruling, it should’ve been a technical knockout for Vetyeka. Vetyeka had won the first two rounds, before Donaire came alive and scored what should’ve been ruled by Pabon a knockdown — yet another mistake in a whole plethora of them for Pabon, whose career as a referee as so atrocious he’s now easily the worst big-fight referee in the sport. Vetyeka rallied in the 3rd, and maybe that spooked Donaire. Vetyeka came out extra hard in the 4th, and that gave Donaire his opening, with his patented counter left hook dropping the bigger man. We’ve seen this from trainer Robert Garcia before, to exploit the rules like this when a fight is going the wrong way for his man, as with Mikey Garcia-Orlando Salido. I wouldn’t be surprised if he made the case. It’s not stupid to do these kind of things from the standpoint of getting the W, but it heaps shame on him and his boxers from fans who expect their ring heroes to give their all under all circumstances. We need to know what Pabon was thinking, though, and whether he ruled it a head butt at the end of the 1st, which he apparently did not; we need to know who made the call to end the fight at the moment it was chosen, which is highly suspicious. Somebody, or multiple somebodies, engineered a shady outcome that just happened to benefit the headliner on Top Rank’s card, a Filipino fighting in Asia… it just looks like too many coincidences. Donaire said he’d give Vetyeka a rematch. I hope he meant it. Because this win is going to be something of a stain on his career unless he rectifies it.

This article first appeared on The Queensbury Rules and was syndicated with permission.

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