Nonito Donaire stopped Nordine Oubaali in Round 4 Saturday night at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, and at 38 years and 204 days old, he became the oldest boxer to win a major bantamweight world title. Donaire is also the 11th boxer to hold a major world title in three different decades.
Donaire (41-6, 27 KOs), of the Philippines, started fast and dropped Oubaali twice in the third round. In the fourth, Donaire sent Oubaali to the canvas a third time, and referee Jack Reis ended the fight at 1:52 minutes of the round.
“The king has returned,” Donaire said after the fight. “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 you are mentally. How strong you are mentally. What I learned from the 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.”
Oubaali (17-1, 12 KOs), 34, of France, won the title against Rau’shee Warren in 2019 and successfully defended the belt twice that same year. Saturday’s loss to Donaire was Oubaali’s first time in the ring since November 2019.
Donaire’s most recent bout, also in November 2019, was a loss in the World Boxing Super Series final against Naoya Inoue, in what was named ESPN’s fight of the year.
“I came in here and I felt really good,” said Donaire. “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.
“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.”