MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire arrived in the Philippines Wednesday morning following his sensational technical knockout victory against veteran Mexican fighter Jorge Arce.
Donaire arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 via Philippine Airlines flight PR 105 at 5:45 a.m.
The Filipino Flash retained his World Boxing Organization super bantamweight belt with his victory against Arce, who was knocked out on the third round at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
In an interview with reporters at the airport, Donaire thanked his supporters who rejoiced his victory, considered a vindication for the Philippines after the recent loss of Filipino boxing icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao to another Mexican, Juan Manuel Marquez.
"Nagpapasalamat ako sa inyong lahat. Without you, wala ako. Kayo ang inspiration ko at sana nabigyan ko kayo ng something to smile and something to be proud. Ginawa ko lahat ng makakaya ko to get the knockout. Sana everybody could have a good Christmas," he said.
Donaire admitted he was pressured to defeat Arce after the heartbreaking loss of Pacquiao. He, however, said he never let it distract him and decided to just fight intelligently.
"Meron ring pressure pero sa sarili ko sabi ko lang na [ibibigay] ko lang lahat ng makakaya ko… I really wanted to knock Arce out, kasi gusto ng mga tao diba, na ma-excite sila. At kung anong maibibigay ko, kung ano ang makakaya ko, I will do my best," he said.
The Filipino Flash's win against Arce was his fourth this year. He also defeated Wilfredo Vazquez, Jeffrey Mathebula and Toshiaki Nishioka this year. He decisioned Vazquez and Mathebula then knocked out Nishioka and Arce.
It was also his 30th straight career victory, putting his record at 31-1 with 20 knockouts. He has not lost a boxing match in 11 years.
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.
The bout against Arce was the first time Donaire earned a million dollars for a fight.
With his impressive win, some boxing analysts believe the rising Filipino star is now a top candidate for Fighter of the Year. Donaire said he is flattered by the recognition, but he is leaving it up to the boxing fans and analysts to decide.
"For me, ginagawa ko lahat ng makakaya ko inside the ring, and kung ano ang opinion ng mga tao at mga sports writers, then I'm honored. Malaking karangalan sa akin. Sana maging fighter of the year, but again, I always leave it up sa mga votes ng mga tao," he said.
"Ang ano ko lang, just keep learning. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, the moment na huminto ako to learn, I should not be in that ring. I want to be better."
Donaire said he and his wife Rachel are going to take the holidays as an opportunity to rest. Rachel did not accompany her husband after being advised by doctors to rest.
Asked if he and his wife are trying to have a child, Donaire said: "We're hoping, but right now, it's just more of relaxing kasi ang kailangan namin. We haven’t been home sa bahay namin. It's always in the hotel and training camp." – with reports from Zhander Cayabyab, dzMM; and TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News