MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE 3) Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire thoroughly dominated veteran Mexican warrior Jorge Arce to retain his world super bantamweight titles at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
A week after Filipinos were stunned by the sixth-round knockout loss of Manny Pacquiao to Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez, Donaire lifted their spirits as he outclassed Arce en route to a third-round technical knockout victory.
"I went out and pretty much timed him. We wanted to slow him down and get him thinking he could get in there," Donaire said. "We knew he would open up."
Donaire, fighting for the fourth time in 2012, controlled the action from the opening bell and wound up dropping Arce three times in their highly anticipated bout.
Donaire won the first round easily as he landed his jabs and right hands with regularity. Arce, meanwhile, was more cautious and rarely engaged.
A combination of a left hook and a right uppercut sent Arce crashing to the canvas in the second round, although the Mexican survived and even egged Donaire on.
Arce started to engage more in the third round, but this proved to be his downfall and Donaire was able to tag him with more counter left hooks.
A series of left uppercuts from "The Filipino Flash" would send Arce down for the second time in the fight, and though the Mexican beat the count, he was visibly wobbled.
Donaire ended the fight with a series of right hooks to the head, and a final left hook to the jaw that sent Arce sprawling to the canvas.
"My left hook was my damaging punch," Donaire said in the post-fight interview. "I hit him in the neck and he got real wobbly."
"I've never really gone and hit with the left hook, but I knew I was going to go out there and give it everything, no matter what."
The official time of stoppage was 2:59 of round three. Donaire retained his World Boxing Organization super bantamweight belt with his victory.
It was a sensational performance for Donaire, who was under tremendous pressure to win after Pacquiao's shocking loss in Las Vegas last week.
"There were a lot of fans who were like, 'You have got to get him. This is for the Philippines.' I hope they can be proud of what I did," Donaire said.
Before the fight, Donaire stressed that he was not thinking of vengeance against Arce, and proved it as he was gracious in victory.
"Arce is my dear friend, and he will be my dear friend for life," he said.
Arce, meanwhile, announced that he will hang up his gloves after losing for the first time since 2009 and seeing his record drop to 61 wins against seven losses and two draws.
"I promised my children that if I lost, I would retire," he said.
It was Donaire's 30th straight career victory, putting his record at 31-1 with 20 knockouts. He has not lost a boxing match in 11 years.
In 2012 alone, Donaire earned decision victories over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. of Puerto Rico and Jeffrey Mathebula of South Africa, and then knocked out Toshiaki Nishioka last October. -- With a report from Agence France-Presse