For weeks leading up to their fight, power punchers Fernando Montiel and Nonito Donaire took turns predicting a knockout. Turns out they were both right. Their fight did end in a beat down. But only Donaire was the one satisfied.
Donaire, who was born and raised in the same Philippines city as another elite puncher, Manny Pacquiao, landed a stunning counter left hook in the second round that floored Montiel as if he had been hit with a hammer. It was a shocking end to a fight which was expected to be filled with fireworks. As it turned out, the first missile launched was all that was needed to close the show early.
After hitting Donaire with a right hand, the Mexican left himself wide open and never saw the counter shot coming. Donaire hit him with a short, precision punch that sent the defending champion down to the canvas, and for all practical purposes the fight was over. The game Montiel, who had never been knocked out in 48 previous bouts, somehow got to his feet and just beat the count. Referee Russell Mora let the fight continue, but Donaire rushed Montiel and landed a quick two-punch power combo and the ref waved it off with 35 seconds left in the round.
Donaire, whose 5th round TKO of previously unbeaten Vic Darchinyan in 2007 was named "Knockout of the Year," clearly made an early case for the best KO of 2011. What was most impressive was that the blow was not a flashy, roundhouse shot, just a quick flick of the left hand, so great is Donaire's power.
The Filipino came into the fight with only one quality victory in his 26-bout career, the win over Darchinyan. But with the best fighters steering clear of him - for reasons made painfully obvious to Montiel - doubts lingered about Donaire. After this fight, all questions about Donaire's ability to beat the cream of the crop were answered. Montiel (44-3-2) is a certain future Hall of Famer, and had been 17-2 in championship fights. Donaire dispatched the heralded Mexican as if he was a club fighter.
"I hit him with the left hook and I looked down, and I saw that his legs were twitching, and I knew that the fight was over," said Donaire, who improved to 26-1, with 18 knockouts. "I had a premonition that this would happen. I told my trainer, Robert Garcia, in camp, before Christmas, that it would be a second-round knockout."
Montiel was examined at a local trauma center and released, saying, "I knew that we both had the power to knock each other out. But I made the first mistake, and I paid for it."
The knockout came after a feeling out first round. Montiel had vowed to be the aggressor in the fight, but seemed reluctant to commit to his attack, which apparently was sound thinking. The first time he went on the aggressive, he was stung. Montiel, who is one of only five Mexican fighters to win titles in three weight divisions, will still be enshrined one day among the sport's elite. Where Donaire will fit in the scheme of things remains to be seen, but clearly his future is bright and the one-punch power he demonstrated against Montiel will make him a crowd favorite.
In the first fight co-feature, unbeaten welterweight Mike Jones (24-0) won a unanimous decision in a rematch over Jesus Soto-Karass (24-6-3). Jones had won a disputed majority decision over Soto-Karass last November. In that fight, Jones thought he had a knockout in round two and went all out to get it. It did not come and he burnt himself out. After that he had to gut it out to earn a majority decision. This time around, Jones worked behind a crisp jab and stuck patiently to his plan to outbox the game Mexican. Soto-Karass' chances were compromised in the third round by a head butt which was ruled from a punch, but replays show it came from an accidental head butt over his left. A second cut was opened over the Mexican's right eye and by the final rounds he was fighting behind a mask of red.