NONITO DONAIRE, at 38 years old, has continued the remarkable final chapter of his decorated career. After a losing to Naoya Inoue in a thriller in 2019, he came back on Saturday (May 29) to hand Nordine Oubaali a first lost and capture the WBC bantamweight title at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.

By their second round Donaire was connecting with his sharp right cross. Oubaali, a southpaw, was reaching for him with his left, but Donaire still clipped him. The “Filipino Flash” was the more elusive, even as Oubaali stayed busy.

At the end of the third round, Donaire began to bring in power shots, knocking the Frenchman backwards. As Oubaali retreated, Nonito blasted him off his feet with a well placed left hook. He wobbled Oubaali again with the left hook. Just on the bell Donaire dropped Oubaali heavily with yet another concussive left hook.

Donaire began the fourth round with intent, striking his right cross to the body again. He hurt Oubaali with a blazing combination. He drove the Frenchman back and folded him into the ropes, the right hitting over the top, the left hacking up. It left Oubaali crumpled on the canvas, unable to continue at 1-52.

“The king has returned,” Donaire declared. “Being at this age is not the question, it’s about my performance … about my ability to grow. I believe it matters not what your age is, but how mentally strong you are. What I learned from the [Naoya] Inoue fight is that I’m back. I can still compete at this level. The whole time I was not fighting, I was learning. I’m ready for the next one.”

“Tonight was something that I had to prove to the world that I’m back and I’m stronger than ever. He was a very tough guy. I think ultimately for me, there was a level of should I be more patient? Or should I go for it? Something I learned in the Inoue fight was to go for the kill. And that’s exactly what I did. I was patient, but I knew he was hurt enough that I could take him out,” he continued. “I came in here and I felt really good. Today I knew exactly what was going to happen. I knew exactly what I was going to do. I think I was just very focused in the gym. I was very, very focused. I just felt really good coming in and I was grateful to get this opportunity.

“Three decades of being world champion. Nine-time world champion. That’s amazing,”