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Las Vegas - A cut in the right eye of Moruti "Baby Face" Mthalane, shattered his glancing opportunity at winning the IBF flyweight title from Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire.
This saddening moment which saw the fearless challenger from KwaZulu Natal, who was ushered to war by esteemed mentor Nick Durandt and his assistant Kenneth Mabunda, happened yesterday morning (Sunday) at the Convention Centre inside Mandalay Bay, Resort and Casino, US.
The official time of the stoppage was 1:31 seconds into the sixth round.
Donaire's first defence was met by boos from a paltry crowd inside the 12000 capacity venue. They did not understand what caused the premature stoppage because they thought the little blood that dripped through Mthalane's eye posed no danger.
But promoter Branco Milenkovic said a doctor from the Nevada State Athletic Commission explained that since the cut was inside the eye and could damage it, the stoppage was necessary.
Mthalane, the current national champion, earned the right to challenge Donaire in March after outpointing Australian Hussein Hussein in East London.
Still it was unclear how or when he sustained the cut as the boxers fought a clean fight. The blood began dripping after the start of the sixth round. But Donaire, who was supposed to take advantage, surprisingly stepped back to indicate to referee Joe Cortez that Mthalane was cut.
The experienced Mexican referee summoned a ringside doctor to inspect the wound who after wiping the blood off and examining it, signalling the end of this enthralling clash.
Before the stoppage Mthalane was behind on points according to the three ringside judges Michael Pernick, who scored the fight 48-47 while Adalaide Byrd and Robert Hoyle had it 49-46.
Donaire threw 682 punches with 245 connecting while Mthalane let go 436 with 77 hitting the target. Donaire landed 495 power punches with 195 shaking Mthalane, who responded with 312 of which only 69 stunned the champion.
Donaire won the first two rounds courtesy of his hand speed while Mthalane whose physique was so superb that he looked like he had been curved out of a stone, won the third.
In the fourth, he began mixing his punches, throwing combinations at close range with some shaking Donaire, a natural right hander, who switched to southpaw stance.
They traded jabs in the fifth to the annoyance a few rascals who booed that action.
Then came round six, a number associated with bad omens, as it is suggested in the book of Revelations in the Bible - the rest was history.
Mthalane's fight was presented by Hall of Famer Bob Arum who won the right to stage it after beating Milenkovic in a purse bid.