LOS ANGELES—Team Donaire calmed the uproar on the looming selection of a South African judge at ringside and assured Filipino fight fans that there will be no repeat of the controversial defeat suffered by Manny Pacquiao last month.
Nonito Donaire Jr. wages a world super bantamweight title unification bout against South African Jeffrey Mathebula Saturday (Sunday in Manila), with the possibility that his foe will have a compatriot scoring the bout.
“You can’t do anything about that anymore,” Cameron Dunkin, Donaire’s manager told the Inquirer. “California has been doing a great job. Changing officials, if ever they do it, would be too much of a concern for Nonito and that’s the last thing I want to happen.”
As soon as the names of the judges for the bout were leaked, forums all over the Web were bombarded by protests over the inclusion of South African Deon Dwarte.
Dwarte previously judged in fights involving his compatriots and submitted scores that favored them. Boxing analyst Ed dela Vega said Dwarte was the only judge that gave Mathebula a winning score when he lost a split decision to Panama’s Celestino Caballero in 2009.
That same year, Dwarte scored a draw in the fight between South African Ali Funeka and Nate Campbell, who won by majority decision.
The other judges reportedly picked by the IBF are Californians Steve Morrow and Lou Morret. The 68-year-old Pat Russell has been named as the third man in the ring.
“There are two neutral judges, we’ll be fine,” said Dunkin. “There’s only so much a judge can do. And we are counting on our fighter to win the fight anyway.”
Interestingly, when Mathebula was asked Tuesday if he’s concerned that he would need to knock Donaire out to score a win, he replied: “They (judges) must watch. It’s not all about aggression, it’s about counterpunching, catching the guy at the right spot, at the right time.”
The names of the judges and the referee will only be made official during the weigh-in on Friday (Saturday in Manila), according to Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels.
Dunkin wondered why it was the IBF which named the referee and judges when it is a unification fight. Donaire holds the WBO belt, while Mathebula is IBF champion.