(2nd UPDATE) Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire is a world champion once again.
Donaire showed vintage speed and power in defeating France's Nordine Oubaali via fourth round stoppage, in the process securing the WBC bantamweight championship on Saturday at the Dignity Health Sports Park stadium in Carson, California (Sunday in Manila).
The 38-year-old Donaire dropped the erstwhile unbeaten Oubaali three times -- twice in the third round and again in the fourth, after which the referee stopped the contest.
Donaire became the oldest boxer to win a bantamweight title.
"I believe that it matters not what your age is. It matters how you are mentally, how strong you are mentally," Donaire said afterward.
After a slow start, action picked up in the third round with both boxers throwing bombs. But it was Donaire who got the better of the exchanges, and his right hook sent Oubaali to the canvas with 45 seconds left in the third round.
It was the first time that the French boxer went down in his professional career. He beat the count, but Donaire poured it on and floored him again just as the bell rang to end the third round.
Donaire seized the opportunity in the fourth, walking through his foe's punches and landing at will. A three-punch combination drilled Oubaali and forced him to the canvas for the third time with 1:14 left in the fourth round.
The referee waved the bout off after the third knockdown. Donaire celebrated in the middle of the ring but showed his beaten opponent great respect and checked up on him afterwards.
Donaire improved his record to 41-6. This was his first fight in over a year, having last seen action in November 2019 when he bowed to Japan's Naoya Inoue in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series.
Meanwhile, Oubaali lost for the first time in 18 professional matches.
Donaire is now angling for a rematch against Inoue, who currently holds the WBA, IBF, and The RING bantamweight championships.
"What I learned from Inoue is I'm back. I knew I could compete with him, and I was not fighting, I was learning," said Donaire. "I'm ready for the next one."
"That's why I wanted to win this fight, because that's my next goal," he added. "The only thing I haven't done in boxing is to become undisputed, and the next phase is getting the rematch."
Even before the Oubaali bout, Donaire had already stated that his intention was to unify all the belts in the bantamweight division.
He is now one step closer towards that one goal.