‘The Filipino Flash’ remains boxing’s oldest-ever 118-pound champion; Lomachenko is targeting the 135-pound titleholders.
Nonito Donaire KOs Reymart Gaballo, Father Time; Vasiliy Lomachenko Drops, Decisions Richard Commey
Already the oldest man to win a 118-pound title, four-division and WBC champion Nonito Donaire continued to outpace Father Time with Saturday’s paralyzing fourth-round, liver-shot knockout of previously unbeaten Filipino countryman Reymart Gaballo at The Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
The switch-hitting Donaire (42–6, 28 KOs) fired a vicious left hook just below the right elbow of Gaballo (24–1, 20 KOs), cementing his second straight knockout win since losing a unanimous decision in November 20109 to Naoya Inoue (21–0, 18 KOs), who added Donaire’s WBA crown to his IBF version.
“Unify. That’s what we’re looking for and that’s what we’re going for is a unification to become a unified champion of the world. I’ve been in this game for such a long time, and I’ve had so many fights,” said Donaire, who trains himself with assistance from his wife and conditioning specialist, Rachel.
“There was no feeling-out process for this fight, but I expected something different from Reymart, and he came out so much differently than what I thought he would. My counters weren’t going, and they actually tried to nullify my left hook, which wasn’t landing. So, for me, inside the ring, I have no mercy.”
Donaire’s searing, fight-ending blow landed with 17 seconds left in the fourth round as Gaballo dropped to his right knee and placed his right glove on the canvas. Gaballo briefly rose at the count of eight only to grimace and return in a squat back to the canvas as referee Ray Corona waved off the fight with one second left in the fourth round.
“My wife and my dad were saying, ‘go to the body, go to the body,’ and I had to set it up by bouncing up and down. I was going left and right until I opened him up enough to land that left hook to the body,” said Donaire, who outlanded Gaballo in total punches (38–35), power punches (26–17) and body shots (13–6), but trailed in jabs (18–12).
“A lot of it was throwing the right hand throughout the earlier rounds, and then the left to the body, which was a given because he didn’t expect that coming from me. I thought he was going to get up because I know he has a lot of heart, but that was a very tremendous punch that landed on him.”
When the fight was over, Donaire leaped off the canvas, ran halfway round the ring to a neutral corner, stood on the ropes and thrust both hands skyward. The champion then consoled Gaballo, who idolizes Donaire.
“I told him, ‘don’t be down, you’re a great fighter. I was having trouble figuring you out,’” said Donaire, who announced, “The king has returned,” after defeating southpaw Nordine Oubaali (17–1, 12 KOs), and has also earned titles at 112, 122 and 126 pounds. “I said, ‘you’re a great fighter, don’t ever get down. Whatever I can do to help you, I’m right here. I promise you that.’”
Gaballo, 25, was Donaire’s first defense of the crown earned as a 38-year-old in May, when his three-knockdown, fourth-round knockout dethroned previously unbeaten Oubaali, making Donaire the oldest man to win a bantamweight crown.
Gaballo was coming off a split-decision victory over Emmanuel Rodriguez in December 2020 for the WBC’s interim crown which ended “The Assassin’s” knockout streak at four.
Donaire improved to 12–1 (8 KOs) at 118 pounds, including a sensational second-round TKO in February 2011 of four-division champion Fernando Montiel who was knocked out for the first time in his career.
“The Filipino Flash” wants a rematch with Inoue, whose streak of knockouts ended at eight against Donaire.
“Me and Inoue have great respect for each other and all of the other champions. I believe that [Probellum Boxing] promoter Richard Schaefer is going to make it happen, no doubt,’” Donaire said.
“Faith in yourself, training hard and having a lifestyle that is good for you. Healthy eating, healthy training, no saying that this is my cheat day, because there is no cheat day. It’s just a choice day, and this is my choice to be happy, my choice to train and my choice to be me.”
A nine-time champion, Donaire is also the first man to become a world champion three times at 118 pounds. Having turned 39 on Nov. 16, Donaire is the second-oldest reigning champion behind IBF 160-pound titleholder Gennady Golovkin, whose birthday was in April.
Donaire has become the face of boxing for the Philippines following eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao, who retired after a unanimous decision loss to WBA 147-pound champion Yordenis Ugas in August.
A 112-pound Donaire won his first crown by fifth-round TKO in July 2007, his left-hook dethroning southpaw IBF champion Vic “The Raging Bull” Darchinyan of Australia, who entered at 28–0 (22 KOs) and as a 7-to-1 favorite.
In November 2018, Donaire fought at 118 for the first time since November 2011, his fourth-round stoppage dethroning Ryan Burnett as WBA champion. Donaire’s first defense was a sixth-round knockout of Stephon Young in April 2019 before he lost to Inoue.
Donaire’s world championships have spanned the 2000s, 2010s and 2020s, joining Floyd Mayweather, Evander Holyfield, Manny Pacquiao, Bernard Hopkins and Erik Morales as the sixth boxer to accomplish that feat.
Vasiliy Lomachenko knocks down, decisions Richard Commey
Southpaw three-division champion Vasiliy Lomachenko scored a seventh-round knockdown during Saturday’s shutout unanimous decision over former titleholder Richard Commey before 8,555 fans at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
“Loma” (16–2, 11 KOs) dominated Commey (30–4, 27 KOs) in a 135-pound victory that follows June’s ninth-round TKO of Masayoshi Nakatani, who entered at 19–1 (12 KOs) and was knocked out for the first time in his career.
“[Commey] is a true warrior. He has a big heart, and we continued, and we showed the people 12 great rounds,” said Lomachenko, who, at one point, requested officials to stop the fight. “[The body work] is always important. In boxing, you can’t just go with one punch. You have to use your skills by going from the body to the head.”
In October 2020, Lomachenko lost a unanimous decision to then-unbeaten Teofimo Lopez, who added Loma’s WBA, WBC (franchise) and WBO 135-pound belts to his IBF version.
Commey was coming off February’s sixth-round knockout of Jackson Marinez to rebound from a one-knockdown TKO loss to Lopez in December 2019.
Lomachenko-Commey culminates a two-week spate of high-profile 135-pound bouts, including last month’s historic upset split-decision victory by George Kambosos (20–0, 10 KOs) over Lopez (16–1, 12 KOs), whom “Ferocious” dethroned as IBF/WBA/WBO and WBC franchise champion in just his fourth appearance on American soil.
Would Lomachenko travel to Kambosos’ native Australia to fight?
“Yes, of course, I need that chance,” Lomachenko said. “If God gives me this chance, I’ll take it. I will go anywhere I need to go to fight [Kambosos.]”
Lomachenko also fought in the wake of WBC counterpart Devin Haney (27–0, 15 KOs) earning a unanimous decision over former champion Joseph Diaz (32–2–1, 15 KOs) on Dec. 4, and southpaw WBC “regular” champion Gervonta Davis (26–0, 24 KOs) earning a unanimous decision over Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz (22–2–1, 15 KOs) on Dec. 5.
Is Lomachenko the division’s best fighter?
“I said before, I don’t like talking about myself. We have in this weight a lot of great fighters,” Lomachenko said. “We have a lot of top fighters, so [hopefully] we can organize a lot of great fights in the future.”
Edited by Stan Chrapowicki and Kristen Butler