Johannesburg – South Africa's Jeffrey Mathebula fought with a broken jaw during his unification bout for the IBF and WBO super bantamweight titles against Filipino Nonito Donaire in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
This was revealed by boxing promoter Branco Milenkovic on Wednesday after Mathebula lost the fight against the ferocious-punching Donaire.
“It was a bruising, action-packed contest between Mathebula and one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world,” Milenkovic said.
“Although he surrendered his IBF title in the process, Mathebula emerged with a good deal of credit - particularly now that it has been revealed that he finished the fight with a broken jaw.”
Milenkovic said the medical authorities at the ringside on Saturday examined Mathebula after the fight and diagnosed the considerable pain he was suffering was due to a broken tooth inflicted by one of Donaire's thunderous left hooks.
“But the pain persisted when we returned to South Africa,” added the BSP promoter, “and X-rays revealed that Mathebula's jaw was, in fact, broken and he will now require surgery and be out of boxing for a lengthy period.
“But to remain fighting for the entire 12 rounds, without retiring, under such trying conditions, against a fighter of Donaire's calibre, was a feat in itself.”
Nevertheless, the broken jaw was a big blow to Mathebula's plans for a return fight with Takalani Ndlovu, from whom he won the IBF title in a closely-contested, controversial bout in March.
“Both Mathebula and Ndlovu remain rated among the top 10 super bantamweights in the world,” said Milenkovic.
“A return bout between the two appeared a logical proposition, with the winner attempting to regain the IBF title - and possibly the WBO title at the same time.”
Donaire, known as “The Phantom Flash”, had expressed the ambition to add the WBA and WBC titles to the WBO and IBF titles in his possession and thereby uniquely hold all the championship belts of world boxing's four major associations - before moving up to a higher weight division.
“This would create an opening for either Mathebula or Ndlovu although Jeffrey will not be thinking about that for some time now,” said Milenkovic.
“But, he can take some comfort from the fact that all the leading boxing authorities had scored the Donaire fight a lot closer than the official judges.
“Ring Magazine scored it 116-112 in spite of Donaire's two-point advantage for a fourth-round knockdown, which made a mockery of the South African judge at the fight, giving the verdict to the Filipino by nine points.” – Sapa