Former junior featherweight titlist Jeffrey Mathebula, who lost his belt in a July 7 unification bout against Nonito Donaire, is recovering after recent surgery to repair his jaw, which was broken in two places during the fight.
Donaire won a lopsided decision against Mathebula at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., to unify 122-pound titles in an HBO main event. Donaire knocked Mathebula down with a hard left hook to the jaw in the fourth round, which is the shot that might have done the damage.
Branco Milenkovic, Mathebula's promoter, said they did not know specifically when the injury occurred but that it was somewhere between the fourth and seventh rounds. Still, Mathebula managed to finish the fight.
Mathebula returned to South Africa after the fight and Milenkovic said he had surgery this past Friday.
"His jaw was broken in two places," Milenkovic said. "He will not be able to go to the gym for at least two months, according to the specialist. I hope to give him a fight at the end of the year."
Originally, the ringside doctor diagnosed Mathebula only with a cracked tooth in the dressing room after the fight. It turned out to be more serious.
"We did notice that he didn't talk in the corner between the rounds, but we thought it was his tooth," Milenkovic said. "As a matter of fact, the California commission doctor said after the fight, when he looked at Jeffrey, it was a tooth. We couldn't get much done as our flight was a few hours after the fight, but we did notice during the flight back (to South Africa), which was a trip of 30 hours, that Jeffrey wasn't well. As soon as we arrived in Johannesburg, he was taken to the specialist who told us Jeffrey's jaw is broken in two places. The doctor wasn't sure how Jeffrey managed to continue fighting as the pain was tremendous.
"No doubt, Jeffrey lost against Nonito, but the judges' scorecards (were too wide). He made me proud with his brave performance, especially considering the broken jaw."
Donaire won the fight 119-108, 118-109 and 117-110.
Mathebula (26-4-2, 14 KOs), 32, was making the first defense of the belt he won in March when he claimed a split decision against countryman Takalani Ndlovu in a rematch.
Donaire (29-1, 18 KOs), 29, was also making the first defense of the vacant belt he won in February by outpointing former titlist Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.