Nonito Donaire is a zero doubt future Hall of Famer doing remarkable things in his late 30s, while being a vocal proponent of fighting clean (no PED use) which can’t be said for the overwhelming majority of pro prize fighters. And though he is regarded unanimously as a super stalwart in the sphere, sometimes it feels like he doesn’t get ENOUGH credit, partially because he’s not a troublemaker/TMZ presence.
The Filipino-American, residing in Las Vegas, on Saturday evening took on a foe, at 118 pounds, one Reymart Gaballo (24-0 entering: from General Santos City) age 25, who grew up looking up and idolizing Nonito.
And “The Filipino Flash” did in this outing all he can do so that he receives the proper degree of regard from all corners of the fight game. The finale delivered at the tail end of round four was Donaire (41-6 entering; from Bojol, Philippines) looking down on Gaballo, after a left to the liver at Dignity Park in Carson, CA, and screening on Showtime.
The four division titlist Donaire, with wife Rachel looking on from his corner, retained a WBC bantamweight belt with a scant second to go in the fourth. The explosion to the torso came from Donaire as he stood in Gaballos’ pantry, and did what he wanted, when he wanted to. That there was an ultra vet’s ability to stay calm tip-toeing in a minefield, and it was something to see, once again. This rerun doesn’t risk being boring.
Nonito talked to Jim Gray after, giving shoutouts galore to all his sponsors, so his missus Rachel wouldn’t get mad at him.
He told Gray that he expected different stuff from Gaballo, less smart boxing, I think. “That was a very tremendous punch that landed,” Donaire said of his night finisher, noting that he told Gaballo after that he is a great fighter and has nothing to be ashamed of. And that he’d be happy to help him get better.
In the first, Donaire popped a hard shot with the left and the right in a very deliberate round. Gaballo looked tight, but by the end of the round he was warmed up.
In the second, Nonito looked to land a left in real tight. He was light on his feet, his jab peppy, not looking 39.
In the third, a right hand worked for Gaballo. His jab picked up, and that interrupted Donaire’s rhythm. The kid stayed aware defensively late, when Nonito tried to rake him on the ropes.
In the fourth, Nonito bounced, advanced, didn’t try to do too much. Oh, spoke too soon, because a left to the liver ended it, just like that. Gaballo almost got up and stayed there..but those waves of pain, that delayed torture, kicked in, and he dropped to the canvas, finished. We thought less about him, then and more about what could come next for Donaire. Hey, hey, whaddya say, Inoue? “It's my team's job to work on the rematch with (unified bantamweight champion) Nayao Inoue,” the winner, not ageless, but acting that way, said. “I believe my team is going to make it happen.” And one morsel some will pick up on, check out Nonito’s phrasing regarding how he treats his job these days. “I'm able to keep fighting at this age because I just have faith in myself and have a lifestyle that's good for me. There is no such thing as a cheat day,” he stated. “It's a choice day, and it's my choice to train and to be me.”