Nonito Donaire stops Reymart Gaballo in four, defends WBC 118-pound title
CARSON, CALIFORNIA – Nonito Donaire seems to continue to get better with age. Saturday night was no exception.
Donaire knocked out Reymart Gaballo with a left hook to the body near the end of Round 4 before a partisan crowd at Dignity Health Sports Park, in a “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event.
With the win, Donaire (42-6, 28 knockouts), who is ranked No. 1 at 118 pounds by The Ring, successfully defended the WBC bantamweight title he won in his most recent bout on May 29 by knocking out Nordine Oubaali.
It was an impressive outing for Donaire, who faced an unbeaten challenger in Gaballo. Both shared a moment during Thursday’s press conference when the customarily gracious Donaire helped translate for Gaballo, also Filipino, who had difficulty speaking English.
Gaballo most recently fought on December 19 of last year, defeating former world titleholder Emmanuel Rodriguez by split decision in a fight many thought Rodriguez did enough to win.
Even with both demonstrating respect toward one another, it was all business once the bell sounded to start the fight. Donaire walked Gaballo down from the opening bell, landing lead and counter right hands to the head. However Donaire attempted to connect with left hooks but found little success.
“[Raymart] was able to neutralize my left hook,” said Donaire after the fight. “He came out different than what we expected. I didn’t expect that.”
Undaunted, Donaire continued to land right hands. Gaballo gave a decent account of himself, standing in the pocket and connecting an occasional right to Donaire’s head.
Just when it looked like Donaire was going to settle in a rhythm that would take the action into the second round of the fight, he landed a vicious left hook to the body toward the end of Round 4. Gaballo attempted to stand up but dropped down to one knee, where referee Ray Corona counted him out at 2:54.
Immediately after the fight, Donaire consoled Gaballo.
“I told him to not get down,” said Donaire. “Whatever I can do, I will help him out.
“There was no feeling out with him. I’ve been in the fight game for so long. My wife and Dad told me to go to the body. I was throwing right hands to the head so I could set up that left hook. I didn’t expect him to stay down. He has a lot of heart.”
At 39, Donaire is eyeing a showdown against The Ring Magazine bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue. In their November 2019 clash, Donaire lost via unanimous decision to the unbeaten Inoue.
Donaire is hopeful the fight can be made, despite the different alliances between promoters and networks each fight on. Donaire is promoted by Richard Schaefer, while Inoue is co-promoted by Top Rank.
“I have a lot of respect for Inoue,” said Donaire. “I believe Richard can make that fight happen.”
Gaballo, who resides in General Santos City in the Philippines, drops to 24-1, 20 KOs.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.
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