- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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SAN ANTONIO -- Nonito Donaire, who has already won titles at flyweight and bantamweight, plus an interim title at junior bantamweight, won yet another piece of hardware.
The "Filipino Flash," despite a damaged left hand that was soaked in blood when his glove was removed after the fight, won a split decision against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. to claim a vacant junior featherweight title Saturday night at the Alamodome in the co-featured bout on the card headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s middleweight title defense against Marco Antonio Rubio.
"Vazquez was tougher than I expected," said Donaire, who thought the hand was broken. "I couldn't find my rhythm, and I hurt my hand somewhere between the second and fourth rounds. I could only move it a little bit."
Donaire, making his debut in the 122-pound weight class, looked frustrated at times but took it to
Vazquez and certainly did enough to win despite a disagreement among the judges. Levi Martinez and Don Trella both had it 117-110 for Donaire while Ruben Garcia had it 115-112 for Puerto Rico's Vazquez, the son of former three-division titlist Wilfredo Vazquez Sr. ESPN.com also had it for Donaire, 117-110.
Donaire, 29, had a big third round, sending Vazquez reeling into a corner with a combination and then rocking him with several shots while he was pinned in the corner. But Vazquez was able to punch out of the dangerous spot as they engaged in an action-packed sequence that ended when Vazquez threw a wild shot, missed and fell to the mat from his own momentum.
Although Donaire (28-1, 18 KOs) seemed in control, he also seemed to be getting frustrated that he couldn't really do much damage to Vazquez even though he was landing shots.
He was warned for a low blow in the seventh round and was clowning around in the eighth, as if to try to draw Vazquez (21-2-1, 18 KOs) into him.
Donaire finally broke through in the ninth round when he caught Vazquez, 27, with a left uppercut followed by a hard left hand that dropped Vazquez. He was up quickly, however, and Donaire wasn't able to do any more damage in the final 30 seconds of the round.
"When I knocked him down in the ninth round, that was the end of the hand," Donaire said. "I was in agony."
There is a lot of potential business for Donaire at 122 pounds, and he intends to deal with it, which means potential fights with Jorge Arce, Toshiaki Nishioka and Guillermo Rigondeaux.
"I'm definitely staying at 122 for awhile," Donaire said. "There are things [trainer] Robert [Garcia] asked me to do that I couldn't do so well, so we will go back to the drawing board."
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said the next fight for Donaire probably will be Arce, who vacated the title Donaire won to move down and claim one of the bantamweight belts Donaire had relinquished. Arce would move back up to 122 to challenge Donaire.
"Let's see what happens with his hand first," Arum said of Donaire. "That will determine everything, but depending on the timing, we want him to face Arce next."
Vazquez was bidding to regain the title he lost in May to Arce, but he had trouble with Donaire's speed.
"He's real quick," Vazquez said. "He caught me with some good punches. He surprised me by hitting me when I was off balance. I thought I did pretty well. I was patient, but he is a great fighter."
Martirosyan blows out Lowry
Junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan (32-0, 20 KOs), staying busy while awaiting a likely significant fight this year, pummeled Troy Lowry (28-12, 17 KOs) into a bloody third-round knockout.
"It's really time for me to step it up," Martirosyan said. "I'm really ready for a big fight. If I had a contract to fight [titlist Saul] 'Canelo' [Alvarez], I'd sign it tonight. That's the kind of guy I want to fight."
Martirosyan, 25, of Glendale, Calif., came out fast and had Lowry reeling seconds into the fight. Then the 2004 U.S. Olympian dropped Lowry with a left hand to the pit of the stomach. Lowry was up at eight, but he took punishment for the rest of the round.
Lowry's face was a bloody mess by midway through the second round, when he got a brief reprieve to recover from a low blow.
But Martirosyan continued to pound the daylights out of Lowry until finally dropping him like a rag doll with a right hand in the third round. Referee Laurence Cole immediately called it off at 2 minutes, 53 seconds without a count.
Lowry, 41, dropped to 2-9 in his past 11 fights and didn't appear to land a single punch of note in the fight.
• Welterweight Wale "Lucky Boy" Omotoso (21-0, 18 KOs) battered Nestor Rosas (9-3, 6 KOs) for six lopsided rounds until the fight was called off 55 seconds into the final round. Omotoso, 26, of Nigeria, who is based in Los Angeles and trained by Freddie Roach, was way too powerful for Rosas. Omotoso hurt him repeatedly in the fight, especially with hard right hands. He had him in trouble in the third round and dished out serious punishment in the fifth round. In the sixth, Omotoso was teeing off and Rosas was not answering, forcing the bout to be called off.
• San Antonio bantamweight Adam Lopez, in his professional debut, got a roaring ovation from the crowd as he rolled to a dominant first-round knockout of Richard Hernandez (0-2). Lopez, 21, dropped Hernandez twice and was hammering him with abandon when the referee stepped in to call it off at 2 minutes, 11 seconds.
• Welterweight Alex Saucedo (2-0, 2 KO), a 19-year-old prospect from Oklahoma City, scored a sensational one-punch knockout of Jean Colon (0-2) in the first round. Saucedo had bulled Colon near a corner before unleashing a flush left hook that dropped him for the full count.
• San Antonio lightweight Ivan Najera (6-0, 6 KOs), just 19, looked sharp and thrilled the hometown fans with a second-round knockout of David Castillo (2-4, 0 KOs) of Soccoro, N.M. Najera dominated, and when he dropped Castillo for the second time with two left hooks and a booming right hand, the referee called it off at 2 minutes, 34 seconds.
• Junior featherweight Raul Hirales (16-0-1, 8 KOs) of Mexico survived a tough test from journeyman Shawn Nichol (5-9, 5 KOs), winning their six-rounder by split decision. Two judges had it for Hirales, 59-55 and 58-56, while the third judge had it 59-55 for Denver's Nichol.
• In the first fight of the night, featherweight Ricardo Valencia (1-2-1) of Houston pulled the upset with a hard-fought four-round decision win against Jeremy Longoria (3-1, 1 KO) of Corpus Christi, Texas. Valencia swept the three scorecards, 39-36, 39-36 and 38-37.
Dan Rafael is a boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
Nonito Donaire fought through a bloody hand injury and was forced to grind in his first bout at junior featherweight, but he ultimately outclassed Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. to score a championship in yet another division Saturday in San Antonio.