Nordine Oubaali (17-1, 12 KOs) vs. Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27 KOs)
In the Showtime headliner in Carson City, California, Nonito Donaire turned back the clock with a stunning fourth round knockout of bantamweight champion, Nordine Oubaali.
Despite losing three of his last six bouts, a 38-year-old Nonito Donaire entered the ring with the belief that he had a strong chance against Oubaali, the WBC bantamweight champion from France. Donaire was given a lot of credit for giving a good account of himself in his last fight, a unanimous decision defeat against Naoya Inoue more than 18 months ago in Japan.
As it turns out, that credit was extended correctly.
Early in the fight, Donaire’s counter right hand found some purchase against Oubaali’s cheek. Oubaali’s extensive technical skills showed well for him throughout much of the third, but then Nonito Donaire exploded with a massive left hook that sent Oubaali staggering forward and onto his knees. Oubaali landed a strong right at the end of the third, but then suffered another massive left hook from Donaire that landed just after the bell, but was ruled an official knockdown by referee Jack Reis. Oubaali beat the ten count, but he was all but out on his feet. Twice Rees had to redirect Oubaali to his corner.
Oubaali was clearly still hurt at the beginning of the fourth, but seemed to have a chance to get back into the fight. And then the “Filipino Flash” did it again, with a massive left uppercut that crumpled Nordine Oubaali to the ground. Reis started a count, but soon waved off the fight correctly, as Oubaali was in no way fit to continue.
Nonito Donaire was already a Hall of Fame fighter before he entered the entered the ring tonight – his legacy was already secure. But now, after becoming by three years the oldest bantamweight champion in the history of the class, that legacy has been burnished to a high sheen.
Donaire’s next goal is to unify the bantamweight titles with a rematch against Inouye. Staring down middle age, Nonito Donaire has earned that opportunity with his victory over an undefeated champion in what one might think of as the “twilight of his career.”
Twilight be damned.