The ageless Nonito Donaire needed just four rounds to reintroduce himself as one of boxing’s greatest when he defied Father Time and knocked out previously unbeaten foe Nordine Oubaali of France to win the WBC bantamweight title on Sunday, May 30 (Manila time) in Carson, California.
Donaire, who at age 38 is a four-division world champion, dropped the Frenchman twice in the third round before he unloaded the coup de grace at the 1:52 mark of the fourth to the delight of a small crowd inside the Dignity Health Sports Park.
The “Filipino Flash” became the oldest bantamweight champion, a record that was held by compatriot Gerry Penalosa who was 36 when he smashed Jhonny Gonzales in 2007.
Donaire improved to 41 wins highlighted by 27 knockouts. He has six defeats, the last one coming from IBF and super WBA champion Naoya Inoue of Japan whom he considers his next opponent.
“The king has returned,” said Donaire. “I believe that it matters not what your age is. It matters in how you are mentally, how strong you are mentally.
“And what I learned from (Naoya) Inoue is I’m back. Because I know I can compete with him and I know that I got it with me so the whole that I was fighting, I was learning. So I’m ready for the next one,” added Donaire.
It was in the second round where Donaire stepped up on the gas, matching Oubaali’s effective counterpunches with his own combinations.
And indeed it showed that Donaire’s left hooks troubled Oubaali as the Filipino champion admitted post-match that he had already calculated the Frenchman’s moves and found the openings.
Donaire didn’t think twice when asked who to fight next, stating that he wanted a rematch with Inoue.
“This is why I wanted to win this fight because that is my next goal. The only thing that I have not accomplished in boxing is becoming undisputed and that is my goal this year,” added Donaire, a future Hall of Famer who has multiple Fighter of the Year and Knockout of the Year honors. “That is my goal until I get there. I’m gonna make it happen and the next phase is getting the rematch.”
He first captured the WBC and WBO bantamweight titles against Fernando Montiel of Mexico in February 2011 and retained the belts versus Omar Narvaez of Argentina in October of the same year.
The 34-year-old Oubaali (17-1), for his part, suffered the first loss of his boxing career since 2014.