The Filipino Flash dropped the taller Mathebula with a crunching left hook towards the end of the fourth round that set the tone for the easy win.
All three judges scored it overwhelmingly in favor of Donaire, turning in scorecards of 117-110, 118-109 and 119-108. The fight was for Donaire’s World Boxing Organization (WBO) belt and Mathebula’s International Boxing Federation (IBF) title.
Donaire, who improved to 29-1, started out strong, dictating the tempo in the first two rounds and negating the five-inch height advantage of the five-foot-eleven Mathebula with good foot speed and sold left hooks. The South African, who dropped to 26-4, was a little more active in the third, but Donaire came back in the fourth round with that powerful left hook that dropped Mathebula, who looked groggy and got up just as the bell sounded.
Donaire tried to finish off Mathebula in the next few rounds but the latter proved to be an elusive target. The General Santos native also slowed down a bit in the middle and latter rounds, while Mathebula began connecting with some good combinations. But overall the IBF champion was just too slow and couldn’t do enough damage to sway the judges.
Judge Jonathan Davis was the most generous among the three judges, giving three rounds to Mathebula. Judge Deon Dwarte gave one round to the South African, while judge Steve Morrow gave two.
Yahoo! Sports scored it 119-108 for Donaire.
Donaire was coming off a dull split decision win over Wilfredo Vazquez last February, and had wanted to score an empathic abbreviated victory this time to solidify his status as the premier 122-pound fighter in the world. Although he was clearly more dominant in this fight, he could have ended it early a few times when Mathebula was visibly tired and overwhelmed.
Afterwards, Donaire said he was disappointed he didn’t end things earlier, but noted that Mathebula’s height advantage proved to be a major obstacle.
“I was very disappointed but it happens in boxing,” he said. “He was just tall, he was just smart. I had to really tire him and make it work.
“My power made the difference. He had great speed as well. He was a taller guy, but the power made him scared.”
Donaire has a good list of prospective opponents for his next fight. There’s WBA champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, who called out the Filipino moments after demolishing Teon Kennedy in five rounds in the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley fight last month.
There’s also talented Japanese Toshaki Nishioka, who watched the fight at ringside and also expressed his desire to fight Donaire. Veteran Mexican fighter Jorge Arce has also been mentioned.
“It’s gonna be against one of these great fighters,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said when asked about it.