T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas - Mexico’s Alexandro Santiago (28-3-5, 14 KOs) use his superior speed to out-point future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire (42-8, 28 KOs) and capture the vacant WBC bantamweight world championship after 12 rounds of action with scores of 116-112 twice and 115-113. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
“I’m disappointed,” said Donaire. “This is a blessing to do this for a very long time. I feel good still. Congratulations to Alexandro. He deserves it. He is a tough guy.”
The 27-year-old Santiago came in as the underdog against the four-division champion Donaire, but consistently beat Donaire to the punch with a variety of jabs, straight rights and left hooks. Donaire was able to land his signature power left hook at several moments throughout the fight, but Santiago hung tough and never showed any sign of being hurt.
“I was trying to counter so much and put so much power into it,” said Donaire. “I tried to fight like a warrior, which was something we didn’t train to do.”
The two fighters each landed 130 punches over the 12 rounds, with Santiago owning a slight edge in power punches landed (62-53). Donaire actually out-landed Santiago in each of the first six rounds before Santiago took control of the second half of the fight. Santiago won each of the last six rounds on one card, five of the last six on another and four of the final six on the third card.
At 40-years-old, Donaire had been looking to break his own record as the oldest fighter to ever win a bantamweight world title, but will now regroup as he considers if he’ll continue his illustrious career.
“I love the sport so much,” said Donaire. “We just have to go back to the locker room, talk about it, and see where we go from there. There were just some times there where I didn’t pull the trigger. That was my biggest problem.”
An emotional Santiago broke down in tears after he was announced as the winner and received words of encouragement from the defeated Donaire.