|Nonito Donaire Scores A Unanimous Decision over Heavier, Tougher than expected Rafael Concepcion
By Gabriel Montoya, MaxBoxing (Aug 16, 2009) Article provided by MaxBoxing (Photo © German Villasenor)
Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire (22-1 with 14 KOs) was in a much tougher fight than expected Saturday night at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas, NV. His opponent, the unheralded Rafael Concepcion (13-4-1 with 8 KOs) came in 4 and half pounds over the 115 pound super flyweight limit, which at the lower weights is a huge deal. It showed as Concepcion took Donaire’s best shots, kept coming and landed some unexpected bombs of his own as these two warriors battled en route to Donaire taking a unanimous decision by scores of 117-111, 115-113, and 116-112.
Concepcion came out smoking landing hard left hooks that got Donaire’s attention. Donaire answered by digging into Concepcion’s body early and often. A right by Concepcion landed and seemed to incense Donaire who jumped all over him and unloaded a few rights in an attempt to tame him. By the end of the second, Concepcion was cut over his left eye and Donaire had eaten enough left hands to change his tactics up a bit.
Donaire came out looking to box and move around the large ring. His quicker feet and hands allowed him to stay on the outside and pick and peck, slip and slide his way around the slower but hard charging Concepcion.
In the middle rounds, Concepcion began to catch up and corner Donaire, putting hard and heavy hands on him and forcing the “Filipino Flash” to stand and fight. This seemed to favor the bigger and stronger Concepcion who rocked Donaire and worked his way through the “Flash’s” leaky defense.
Donaire steeled himself as the fight progressed to the championship rounds and regained control, moving and boxing from the outside. It became a case of “win this one look good in the next one.” However, Concepcion did not go quietly and the two traded hard down the stretch of what was billed as a showcase fight for Donaire but ended up being a very good little scrap.
In the co-feature, WBO featherweight titleholder Steven Luevano (37-1-1 with 15 KOs ) scored a win by disqualification when at the end seventh Bernabe Concepcion (29-2-1 with 16 KOs ), after the bell had clearly rung three times, landed a grazing left and a hard right that left the titleholder flat on his back unable to continue. It was an unfortunate end to a tactical boxing match that was just becoming a fight.
The action started tentative with the counter punching southpaw Luevano holding his ground at center ring behind a peppering, range-finding jab. Concepcion was aggressive early, getting right hand shots to the body of Luevano that moved the titleholder every time they landed.
The second looked similar as Luevano gauged his foe’s range, working behind that pepper jab but keeping his position at center ring. Concepcion got in a nice right to the chest and an uppercut off a Luevano bend and slip. Late in the round, Luevano seemed to warm to the task as he landed two nice counter lefts. That carried over into the third as Luevano got his timing going and countered Concepcion who had abandoned his jab and was now looking for one shot a time.
As the fight progressed through the fourth and fifth, Luevano subtly took control; sneaking in his left hand off angles and changed up his jab from peppering to salt-loaded shotgun and back again. Little sidestep moves and a left to follow from Luevano kept Concepcion off-balance, looking to get inside and work but finding no purchase. Bernabe did get in a body shot late that hurt Luevano but it was a little bit of too little too late.
In the fateful seventh, Concepcion seemed to be upping his aggression. He got in a nice right hand but ate a body shot from Luevano in return. Both men started to throw caution to the wind a bit as the round progressed and for a moment it appeared that this boxing match was going to become a fight. A hard left landed for Luevano followed by another. Concepcion got in a right hand that rocked Luevano’s head back but he took it well, rolled to his right and then bell rang loud and hard three times. Luevano, who had ended every round before this by touching gloves with Concepcion, seemed to smile as Bernabe let loose with a very late left that just missed and a right that didn’t. Referee Jay Nady immediately jumped between them as Luevano fell flat on his back nearly unconscious.
Despite the protests of Concepcion’s trainer Freddie Roach, who seemed be arguing the punches were not malicious in intent, the fight was ruled a round 7 disqualification win for Luevano as he was unable to continue off an illegal blow. At the time of the stoppage scores were 67-66 Luevano, 68- 65 Luevano, and 66-67 Concepcion.
“He got me with a couple good punches,” said Luevano afterward. “I didn’t feel anything that hurt me until he hit me after the bell rang,” he said with a smile.” He must have been frustrated or mad that he couldn’t hit me. I’d give him a rematch. I thought it was a good fight.”
Freddie Roach seemed to calm down and accept the decision. “Bernabe was excited. He hurt the guy and hit him late. The disqualification was justified. It wasn’t intentional but it was a good call.”
Luevano and Concepcion’s promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank said afterward “I’ll try and put together a rematch in December and they’ll make more money than they did tonight.
Gabriel at: email@example.com.
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