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Back to gym for Donaire

Jessie Magdaleno, right, and Nonito Donaire, of the Philippines, fight during their WBO junior featherweight title boxing match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Las Vegas. AP Photo/Isaac Brekken

MANILA, Philippines - Coming off a loss to unbeaten Jessie Magdaleno, former WBO superbantamweight champion Nonito Donaire Jr. said yesterday he’s moving on and excited to get back to the gym to learn more from Cuban coach Ismael Salas.

Donaire, 33, yielded his crown to Magdaleno, 24, on points in the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Jessie Vargas mainer at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas last Saturday night. The decision was unanimous with judges Burt Clements and Steve Weisfeld scoring it 116-112 and Adalaide Byrd, 118-110, all for the southpaw of Mexican descent.

Donaire said he did enough to win and called Byrd’s scorecard “ridiculous.” Salas said Donaire controlled the last half of the fight and deserved the verdict. “I don’t know how anyone could score it 118-110,” said Donaire. “I understand that in a close round, you give it to the champion. I challenge Magdaleno to a rematch. I gave him the opportunity to fight for the world title. I hope he gives me the opportunity to win it back. Nothing’s been discussed about a rematch. But I think it’ll be a great fight for the fans if it happens.”

Byrd was a judge when Nicholas Walters knocked out Donaire in the sixth round for the WBA featherweight crown in Carson, California, in 2014. She was also one of the judges in Juan Manuel Marquez’s sixth round knockout over Pacquiao in 2012. Byrd, whose husband Robert is a referee, was in Cebu to judge the Donnie Nietes-Moises Fuentes fight in 2013. Byrd scored the Nietes-Fuentes bout a draw.

Byrd gave Magdaleno a sweep of the first nine rounds then scored the 10th and 12th for Donaire. Weisfeld awarded the last three rounds to Donaire. Clements, the controversial judge who robbed Pacquiao of a win by split decision over Marquez in 2004 when he shortchanged the Filipino of a point on an error, gave Magdaleno the first four rounds. So Donaire was saddled with a big deficit from the start.

Although it was Donaire’s first fight with Salas in his corner, he said there was immediate chemistry in their partnership. “I’m adjusting to the new style,” he said. “We’re about halfway there. He’s teaching me to be more technical, more precise. I should’ve taken the fight a lot more to Magdaleno. I don’t think I faltered with my speed. I probably didn’t show too much of my speed because we were both waiting to counter.”

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Donaire said he didn’t jab as much because he knew Magdaleno waited to counter it. “What he had in mind, I also had in mind,” he said. “I waited for Magdaleno to jab so I could counter it. I thought I was moving better than him.  I was never hurt. I’m actually excited to get back to the gym and prepare for my next fight. I learned a lot from that experience. I consider it a life’s lesson. I’ll only get stronger from losing like that.”

Donaire’s wife Rachel said she’s more pissed off than her husband about the decision. “Jun’s fine,” she said. “He’s in good spirits. He’s putting it behind him and looking forward to what’s next.”

As for Salas, Donaire said the Cuban was upset with the decision but couldn’t complain about his performance. “In the late rounds, Magdaleno got tired and started to jab more to keep me away,” he said. “That’s when I went on the attack. I thought my strong finish was enough to convince the judges.”

Donaire said he’s not likely to celebrate the Christmas holidays in Manila with his family this year. “I promised my kids (two sons) I’d take them to Disneyland,” he said. “But I’m still not sure of plans.”

Magdaleno got off to a strong start and was more aggressive in the early going. An accidental headbutt opened a cut over Magdaleno’s left eye in the fourth round but cutman Rafael Garcia made sure it wouldn’t be a bother. Donaire was on his toes to start the eighth round but it was Magdaleno who pressed on. Donaire walked back to his corner with a cut over the right eye. Magdaleno cut loose with a right that appeared to stagger Donaire in the ninth. Donaire was pushed against the ropes and soaked in a barrage. But in the 10th, Donaire lashed out with a right that wobbled Magdaleno. Down the stretch, Magdaleno danced away from trouble and was content to finish on his feet, thinking he was up on points.

A lethal left hooker, Donaire relied more on his right because Magdaleno is left-handed. Compubox stats showed that Donaire was both outworked and outpunched. Magdaleno threw 500 blows to Donaire’s 404 and connected 154 to 132. Volume punching did the trick for Magdaleno who’s nine years younger.

Filipino mixed martial arts practitioner Del Bacho said Donaire deserved the win but “obviously, the judges saw it otherwise as he didn’t even get any respect from the commentators.” On Instagram, @argel46 said Donaire won but could’ve done better as he seemed slow, @hansendarrel said speed abandoned the Filipino Flash who displayed no side-to-side movement while Magdaleno scored more solid punches and @oh_my_ge said Donaire deserved to lose and advised him “never to leave it to the judges.”

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