Finally, Filipino sports fans have reason to smile.
Nonito Donaire made short work of Jorge Arce, knocking down the Mexican in the second round before finishing him off in the third with two knockdowns to retain his World Boxing Organization super-bantamweight belt before a predominantly Mexican crowd at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
A week after Arce's compatriot Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Manny Pacquiao with one second left in the sixth round, the Filipino Flash returned the favor, finishing off Arce with one second left in the third. Donaire first sent down Arce, his good friend and former champion in three weight classes, in the second round with a short right, although the Mexican got up quickly and didn't appear to be hurt.
The knockdown seemed to wake Arce up, as he came out brawling in the third and started connecting more. But as the round was coming to an end, Donaire tagged him with a powerful right hand followed by a solid left uppercut that put Arce down again.
This time, he had trouble getting up, but was eventually on his feet at the count of seven. With 13 seconds left, the referee allowed the fight to continue, and Donaire went in for the kill, connecting again with a left hook to put Arce down for good at 2:59 of the third.
Donaire thus went four for four this year in title bouts while improving to 32-1 with 21 knockouts, and has made a strong case for Fighter of the Year. This may have been his last fight at 122 pounds, as he revealed plans to go up in weight
"We're gonna go for it (126 pounds) next year," he said after the bout."He's a great fighter. He's got great punching power," said Arce, who announced his retirement after the bout, saying he would now concentrate on doing television commentary. He walks away with a 61-7-2 record.
In the days leading up to the bout, Arce had vowed to duplicate Marquez's stunning feat, but early on it was obvious he would have trouble backing up that boast. Donaire was just too quick and too powerful, landing left jabs almost at will while connecting with a variety of combinations over the three rounds.
The win comes just two months after Donaire injured his left hand in his ninth-round knock out of Japan's Toshiaki Nishioka, and there was some concern whether it had fully healed. But he put all those doubts to rest as it was a crunching left hook that sent Arce down for the last time and into retirement.
Afterwards Donaire thanked his Filipino fans, who are still trying to come to terms with Pacquiao's shocking loss last week, tweeting that he hoped he had done his part to lift their spirits.