MANILA, Philippines -- Sports Illustrated has named world bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire's second-round knockout of Fernando Montiel last February 20 as the Knockout of the Year.
In that bantamweight bout, Donaire dropped Montiel to the canvas a minute before the second round ended with a powerful left hook. Referee Russell Mora allowed Montiel to continue after the boxer beat the 10-count, but Mora stopped the fight only seconds later as Donaire swarmed in for the kill.
"Yes, Montiel got up from the crushing overhand left that nearly caved in half his face," SI's Chris Mannix wrote. "But he only lasted a few more seconds before the referee stepped in to save him."
"Couple that with the significance of the match-up -- both Donaire and Montiel were pound-for-pound guys going at it in a highly anticipated super bantamweight fight -- and Donaire's savage knockout becomes that much more impressive," he added.
Donaire annexed the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization bantamweight championships with his victory.
His crushing knockout of Montiel was supposed to kick off a year that should have brought "The Filipino Flash" to the level of boxing's elite, but Donaire's career stalled in the middle of 2011 due to a promotional dispute with Top Rank and Golden Boy.
Towards the latter half of the year, Donaire eventually solved his contractual issues and signed with Top Rank. He went on to defeat Argentine champion Omar Narvaez via unanimous decision last October.
Donaire plans to fight at least four times in 2012, and is scheduled to debut at the junior featherweight division (122-pounds) on February 4 against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.
Donaire is ranked number 4 on The RING's pound-for-pound ratings, behind countryman Manny Pacquiao, undefeated American Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Argentina's middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.