By CARLO ANOLIN
Nonito Donaire unloaded a sharp liver shot that sent Reymart Gaballo to his knees for the first time in his career and the Filipino Flash kept his WBC bantamweight title with a fourth-round knockout win at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California Saturday night (Sunday in Manila).
At 39, Donaire proved that age is just a number after setting up the perfect counter left hook to the body against a much younger opponent in Gaballo.
Gaballo closed in to throw a couple of combinations to Donaire and later guarded his face but little did he knew that the Filipino Flash had it all planned out and uncorked the hefty body blow with 15 seconds left in the fourth round.
Grimacing down on his knees, Gaballo tried to stand up and continue the fight but immediately dropped again in pain as Donaire emerged victorious for his first WBC bantamweight title defense since capturing it for the first time way back in February 2011.
“Unified,” said Donaire shortly after the win. “That’s what we’re looking for, that’s what we’re going for. This unification, unified champion of the world.”
In round three, the two Filipinos showcased a slugfest with good trades coming from Gaballo’s right hooks and Donaire’s counter left hooks.
Gaballo, the challenger hailing from South Cotabato, connected a strong right hand that slightly pushed back Donaire midway the third.
Donaire also fired a strong right to the body but Gaballo responded with a fiery combination.
With the win, Donaire, a four-divison world boxing champion, improved to a 42-6 record on top of his 28 knockouts while the 25-year-old Gaballo suffered not only the first knockdown of his career but also his first loss with 24 wins and 20 KOs.
Meanwhile, Marlon Tapales knocked down Japanese foe Hiroaki Teshigawara thrice in their IBF super bantamweight world title eliminator in the undercard of the Donaire-Gaballo bout.
Tapales scored a second-round knockout over the Japanese boxer as he floored Teshigawara with vicious hooks from all angles in the waning seconds.
The Lanao del Norte native boxer climbed to a 35-3 record with 18 KOs while Teshigawara fell to a 22-3-2 card with 15 KOs.