(UPDATED) Nonito Donaire Jr. showed his class in knocking out fellow Filipino fighter Reymart Gaballo to retain his WBC bantamweight title, Saturday at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California (Sunday in Manila).
Donaire, 39, was making the first defense of the WBC belt that he won in May from France's Nordine Oubaali against Gaballo, the mandatory challenger who came into the bout with a perfect 24-0 win-loss record.
"The Filipino Flash" won via fourth round knockout against the younger Gaballo, landing a crushing left hook to the body that forced the 25-year-old to take a knee.
Gaballo, who had been competitive in the first three rounds, tried to get up and beat the count, but took a knee again while grimacing in pain. Referee Roay Corona waved off the fight with just a second left in the fourth round.
"I expected something different from him, and he came out so much different than what I thought," said Donaire afterward. "My counters weren't going, and they actually tried to nullify my left hook, which wasn't landing."
"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, left and right until I opened up the body, with the left hook to the body," he added.
Gaballo, who had won 20 of his previous 24 bouts by knockout, absorbed the first loss of his professional career. The younger man caught Donaire's attention with a right hand in the opening round, but the veteran shook it off.
Donaire proceeded to land his right regularly in the ensuing rounds, before uncorking the left to the liver that spelled the end for Gaballo.
Donaire admitted that he thought Gaballo would beat the referee's 10-count.
"I thought he was gonna get up, because I know he has a lot of heart," said Donaire. "But that was a very tremendous punch that landed on him."
Donaire improved his record to 42-6, recording a second consecutive stoppage win.
With the mandatory defense out of the way, Donaire reiterated his goal of unifying the entire bantamweight division -- starting with a rematch against Japan's unbeaten Naoya Inoue, who holds the WBA and IBF titles.
"Unified, that's what we're looking for, that's what we're going for -- unification. Unified champion of the world," Donaire stressed.