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Reports on Donaire’s head butt-marred bout vary beyond belief

No doubt about it: Nonito Donaire knocked down Simpiwe Vetyeka.
No doubt about it: Nonito Donaire knocked down Simpiwe Vetyeka.

A wire-service account of Saturday’s Nonito Donaire-Simpiwe Vetyeka fight in Macau implied that Donaire did not score a knockdown in the fourth round of that bout, which ended minutes later with Donaire the winner by technical decision. I nearly asked the San Jose Mercury News, which carried that account, to run a correction.

The knockdown was the salient point of Donaire’s capture of Vetyeka’s WBA featherweight title, which he gained by lasting through four rounds to become eligible for a decision win after suffering a gashed eyelid from an accidental head butt in the first round. After the knockdown, Donaire was unquestionably ahead in the fight and gaining momentum.

Without the knockdown, the decision would have been close and it would have been unconscionable to seize Vetyeka’s title, so omitting mention of the knockdown was a significant error.

Letting that fight go as long as it did was probably a mistake for all concerned. First of all, Donaire and his corner say he was mentally impaired after the first round and even thought he was merely in a sparring session for a while. Second, he obviously couldn’t see. Third, Vetyeka was mighty foul-prone in this bout, which was a factor in the worsening of Donaire’s wound.

Donaire might have been better off accepting a no-contest (a technical draw), which is what would have resulted from stopping the bout before the end of the fourth round. But he needed to score that knockdown too badly for that, and now he’s stuck with a vaguely sleazy-looking situation that’s not what he had in mind.

There’s a lot of negativity swirling around this one, including some who say that referee Luis Pabon did not make it clear right away that the accidental-butt ruling had been made, though that certainly was the widespread assumption.

As usual, some were saying Donaire ought to have fought on until his eyeball fell out. One serial hater (get a load of this guy!) said the wound was caused by a punch, and he wasn’t alone.

So I can’t help feeling inclined to try to advance the truth.

I should have tried harder on that front Saturday. The San Francisco Chronicle, my sometimes employer, didn’t advance the fight Saturday and had no account Sunday. It wouldn’t have hurt to send them my accounts for their delectation.

Though there’s no way to fight some of the trash some people put forth as facts these days, I have to keep trying.

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