By Rob Andrew Dongiapon

PHOTO: Michael Ona

Still phenomenal at 39. 

Filipino Flash Nonito Donaire continued his quest for undisputed glory in the bantamweight division, obliterating fellow Filipino Reymart Gaballo in the fourth round to retain the WBC bantamweight championship in Carson, California.

Donaire unloaded a stinging left hook on the liver with 17 seconds left in the fourth round, rendering the 25-year old Gaballo on his knees before failing to answer the referee’s 10-count. 

Entering the fight with much mutual respect as any fighting compatriots could offer, Donaire found himself walking through the right jabs of Gaballo in the early stages, but when the former four-division champion had ultimately found his footing, the younger Gaballo plodded himself to a boxing clinic. 

“There was no feeling out. I expected something different from him,” Donaire told after the fight.”And he came out so much different from what I thought.”

“I have no mercy.”

The knockout loss marked Gaballo’s first career blemish, while Donaire picked up his 28th KO in 42 wins as he looks to unify the titles in the 118-pound division. 

“Unify — that is what we’re looking for, that’s what we’re going for,” Donaire declared.

Current bantamweight champions are Japan’s Naoya Inoue, who holds the WBA and IBF belts, and another Filipino John Riel Casimero, who pulled out of his supposed WBO title defense against Paul Butler a few hours before this fight after missing weight due to medical reasons.

As Casimero’s title situation remains in the balance, all fingers point to a sequel of 2019’s fight of the year between Donaire and Inoue — now, with all but one marble up for grabs.

“That’s my promoter’s job to do Richard Schaefer,” said Donaire, leaving the negotiations for a potential Inoue rematch to the former Golden Boy CEO and now head of his own boxing promotional company Ringstar Sports. 

“I have much respect for Inoue and all the other champions in the division,” he added. “I know Richard (Schaefer) is going to make it happen.”