MANILA, Philippines – Former world champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire dedicated his victory to the Philippines after stopping Armenian fighter Vic Darchinyan in the ninth round of their featherweight showdown Saturday in Corpus Christi, Texas (Sunday in Manila).
Fighting for the first time at the featherweight division, Donaire overcame a sluggish start and felled Darchinyan in the ninth round with his left hook, eventually forcing the referee to stop the fight after he unloaded several bombs on the wobbly Armenian.
“It wasn’t my win tonight, it was the Philippins’ win,” Donaire posted on his social media accounts following his victory. “We are strong and we have faith. Thank you Lord for keeping me safe, giving me a sound mind, helping me see what needed to be done.”
“Thank you to the Archangels and especially all the fans and Filipinos who watched despite the typhoon,” he added.
The Philippines is reeling from the effects of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), with authorities estimating that at least 10,000 people were killed in Leyte.
In an interview following his victory, Donaire had asked for prayers for his motherland.
"First and foremost, prayers to people in the Philippines who were hit by the typhoon," he said. "Please have your prayers for people in the Philippines."
Even prior to the fight, Donaire said he was dedicating his performance to the Filipino people.
“Dedicating my fight to uplift the Filipinos’ spirits. Our indomitable spirit has been recognized worldwide,” he said. “Keep the faith, He will not abandon us in our time of need. Continued prayers for the earthquake and typhoon victims.”
Even so, Darchinyan came very close to avenging his 2007 loss to Donaire, taking control of the fight in the middle rounds and at the end of the fifth round, unleashing a flurry of punches on the Filipino, who was saved by the bell.
Donaire even admitted that he doubted himself at one point in the fight.
“When he hit me in the cheek, I felt like he broke my cheek, and I thought, ‘Is this it for me? I’m losing the fight. Should I keep going?’ But I put my heart into it, and you know what, I will never, ever quit,” he said.
Malacañang on Sunday commended Donaire and beauty queen Ariella Arida for bringing pride to the Philippines during these trying times.
“We extend our congratulations to Ms. Arida and the Filipino Flash. We appreciate their efforts to bring a bt of smile to Filipinos who are going through so much,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte on radio dzRB on Sunday.
Arida had finished third-runner up in the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, a feat which she also dedicated to her countrymen.