Nonito Donaire TKO9 Jeffrey Mathebula: Jeffrey Mathebula enjoys almost a five-inch height advantage and puts his punches together well, but I think Nonito Donaire is on another level in terms of skill.
Donaire has the arsenal to employ his superior speed and find his way around the South African’s longer reach to pick a solid titleholder like Mathebula apart.
Nonito Donaire W 12 Jeffrey Mathebula: Nonito Donaire is just too much the overall package.
Nonito Donaire W 12 Jeffrey Mathebula: Nonito Donaire is going to have his fair share of problems with Jeffrey Mathebula. If he doesn’t have a good game plan in store, an upset is not out of the question.
Donaire has something to prove after his win over Vazquez left something to be desired. I expect Donaire to win a close twelve-round decision.
Nonito Donaire UD 12 Jeffrey Mathebula: I see Nonito Donaire having a little bit of difficulty with Jeffrey Mathebula early. But eventually settling in and controlling the fight with his speed and counters. I see Mathebula lasting the distance. Donaire unanimous decision.
Jeffrey Mathebula W 12 Nonito Donaire: Jeffrey Mathebula will have to be able to handle the early offense, and that’s always the biggest risk with Nonito Donaire. His speed and pop can catch anyone off guard. Factor in the sometimes pushing right of Mathebula, and he looks like a counter-left victim waiting to happen.
The thinking here is excellent trainer Nick Durandt will have Mathebula as focused as he has ever been, he avoids the big early power shots…and then we get into what happens in a long fight? Mathebula is at least a few inches taller, has longer arms, and is very quick in combination.
He’s also a heavy volume puncher with good head and upper body movement who can fight off the back or front foot. He’s been at 122 for his whole career, hasn’t been stopped since 2003, and probably should have gotten the nod in two debatable decision losses to Celestino Caballero and Takalani Ndlovu.
At 33, he has a chance to validate his whole career against a fighter who sometimes looks lost when he doesn’t get guys out of there. The pick here is the man who can improvise better, and that’s Mathebula with a strong second half in the bout.
Nonito Donaire KO 9 Jeffrey Mathebula: Jeffrey Mathebula is a serious challenge for Nonito Donaire. I’m most impressed that he went to Celestino Caballero’s native Panama and lost a split decision.
Mathebula is both skillful and tough, although he doesn’t appear to have great power. That could be his undoing. Donaire also is skillful but has quickness and power that Mathebula hasn’t seen.
Plus, the South African will be fighting outside his native country for only the second time. That’s always a challenge. Donaire will break down Mathebula and stop him in the ninth round.
Nonito Donaire W 12 Jeffrey Mathebula: I think Nonito Donaire has a few things to prove, and he’s going to go all-out to show why he’s among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world today. I like Donaire by decision over Jeffrey Mathebula.
Nonito Donaire W 12 Jeffrey Mathebula: I wIll go with Nonito Donaire on a very tough but unanimous 12-round decision over Jeffrey Mathebula.
Nonito Donaire KO 7 Jeffrey Mathebula: I have Nonito Donaire by knockout in seven. Donaire’s power wasn’t fully there for the Miguel Vazquez fight as it was at 118. But I think that having time to acclimate to the new division will benefit him greatly.
I think that he will be able to get the job done now against Jeffrey Mathebula. Donaire is among the hardest hitting in the sport.
Nonito Donaire KO 5 Jeffrey Mathebula: Nonito Donaire dominates Jeffrey Mathebula from the start, wins by fifth round technical knockout.
By a vote of 15-2, the experts have Nonito Donaire defeating Jeffrey Mathebula in a difficult fight to unify the IBF and WBO junior featherweight belts.
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org