Donaire knocks out compatriot Gaballo to retain WBC bantamweight belt

Nonito Donaire Jr. jumps in joy after the referee stopped the fight (Esther Lin/SHOWTIME)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Nonito Donaire Jr. proved he still has that one-punch power after knocking out kababayan and mandatory challenger Reymart Gaballo to successfully defend his World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight championship.

It was an unusual kick-off in Showtime Boxing’s main event as two Filipinos entered the ring but on opposite corners.

Gaballo, one of the brightest Filipino prospects who held an impressive 24 consecutive wins without a loss entering the fight, received one of the worst wake-up calls in his professional career.

Donaire went straight to his game plan of letting the younger Gaballo throw his offense and studied the angles that can help him connect on his power punches.

For three straight rounds, Donaire let Gaballo dictate the offense and lull him to a false sense of confidence.

Gaballo’s solid jab game was on-point the whole three rounds and hurt Donaire a couple of times including a counter during the second round.

However, just when Gaballo thought he would have an easy time picking Donaire apart, the 39-year-old champion flipped the switch and became more aggressive at the start of the fourth round.

Seconds after the bell, Donaire immediately put on the pressure going forward and targeted Gaballo’s body.

The different approach that Donaire used became effective and helped him pile up more points in the scorecards but with 17 seconds left in the fourth round, Gaballo tasted his first-ever knockout loss in his career.

Donaire perfectly landed a left hook liver shot that stunned Gaballo, leaving him on his knees while grimacing in pain.

The win improved Donaire’s record to 42 wins, 28 knockouts, and six losses while also defending his WBC bantamweight belt after dethroning former champion Nordine Oubaali several months ago.