The boxing legend successfully defends his WBC World Bantamweight Championship with another impressive KO Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.
Wherever Nonito Donaire gets it from, however he gets it from, the 39-year-old WBC World Bantamweight Champion seems to get better, and better with age.
Defending his 118-pound belt for the first time, Donaire vanquished mandatory challenger Reymart Gaballo, who once idolized “The Filipino Flash,” at 2:59 of the fourth round on Saturday night on SHOWTIME from the Dignity Health Sports Park.
“I've been in this game for such a long time and I've had so many fights, I didn't think I was going to have to feel him out,” Donaire said. “But he came out differently than I thought he would. He tried to nullify my left hook, but I just had to have no mercy.”
Donaire (42-6, 28 KOs) began going to the body early, mixed in with a lead right. He had the 25-year-old Gaballo (24-1, 20 KOs) backing up. By the third, Gaballo had established a good jab and staggered Donaire back with a right hand with 2:18 left in the round. But Donaire had time to reset, with Gaballo getting cut above the right eye from a clash of heads.
In the fourth, Donaire dropped a right to the body with :25 left in the round, which had Gaballo retreating back to the ropes. Eleven seconds later, Donaire plunged a left into Gaballo, who fell to his right knee to take referee Ray Corona’s count.
Gaballo tried getting up and fell back down again.
“My wife and my dad were telling me to go to the body,” Donaire said. “I had to set it up by bouncing up and down to open up that shot. I was throwing the right hand in the earlier rounds and then he didn't expect the left hook to the body.
“I thought he was going to get up because I know he has a lot of heart, but that was a tremendous punch that landed. I just told him after the fight not to be down. Because he's a great fighter. I had trouble figuring him out and I'm here to help him with anything he needs the rest of his career.”
Donaire continues to aim at unifying the bantamweight division, whether he does it at 40 or not.
“It's my team's job to work on the rematch with (unified bantamweight champion) Nayao Inoue,” Donaire said. “I believe my team is going to make it happen. I'm able to keep fighting at this age because I just have faith in myself and have a lifestyle that's good for me. There is no such thing as a cheat day. It's a choice day, and it's my choice to train and to be me.”
Cody Crowley wins a war with Kudratillo Abdukakhorov
Cody Crowley got knocked down for the first time in his pro career in the second round of his fight against Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, but it didn’t dissuade the Canadian southpaw who was fighting for the first time in over a year.
Crowley and Abdukakhorov wound up putting on a sizzler. With :40 left in the second, Abdukakhorov clipped Crowley with a left hook to the chin that sent him down. From there, however, Crowley fought back and in the fifth, opened a cut on Abdukakhorov’s left ear.
In the end, it was Crowley (20-0, 9 KOs) who won by 10-round unanimous decision, handing Abdukakhorov (18-1, 10 KOs) his pro defeat.
“I rate my performance a B tonight,” Crowley said. “He was a tough competitor, the former IBF No. 1 contender. I was going in the underdog so I knew I was going to have to bring the fight to him the whole time. I knew that he was going to run and stop and pop with awkward shots. I was prepared for that. Fourteen months off is a helluva lot of time to be off. So, I was just trying to keep my distance and I slowly started to pick it up.”
Crowley never relented once he got up from the second-round knockout.
“When Cody Crowley comes to the arena, Cody Crowley comes to fight,” Crowley said. “It seems like everyone I get in the ring with wants to get their running shoes on and run.
“I have a granite chin. That was the first time I have been dropped. It’s the first time my knee has ever touched the canvas, in sparring or in a fight. But I was not hurt and I got right back up. When I come to fight it’s going to be a helluva fight. It’s going to be a dogfight and you are going to see blood. You are going to see guys go down.”
Abdukakhorov took a great deal of punishment and was stunned numerous times. He didn’t exactly agree with the outcome.
“I respect the judges’ decision, but I thought it could have at least been a draw,” Abdukakhorov said. “I dropped him in the second round but I wasn’t able to capitalize on that.”
Brandun Lee keeps soaring
Lee (24-0, 21 KOs) remained undefeated with a seventh-round knockout of Heraldez (16-2-1, 10 KOs) at 2:11 of the second round.
It appeared early that Heraldez could not hurt the 22-year-old Lee, who slammed Heraldez with a devastating right in the seventh to force referee Gerard White to wave it over. The Seven rounds are the deepest Lee has gone, and he had no problem early on of bearing the brunt of Heraldez, who missed the contracted weight of 142 pounds and came in at 144.
All of Lee’s stoppages have come within the first three rounds. Lee liked how this fight stretched him in areas he had not previously shown. He made it a point to show he can box.
“I have to watch the fight back but my dad didn't like my performance,” Lee said. “He’s a perfectionist. Everyone here thought I would take Juan out earlier, but I wanted to show everyone I can box.
“I kept seeing that Juan was moving to his right and my right hand was coming up short. So, I knew I had to jab and box him and make him forget about that right hand. Then I made the adjustment in the seventh round and got him out of there.
“I’m ready for anyone. It's ultimately up to my team, but I say bring them on.”
For a closer look at Donaire vs Gaballo, check out our fight night page.