MANILA, FEBRUARY 17, 2011 (STAR) By  By Joaquin Henson [PHOTO - Nonito Donaire Jr. hits Mexican Fernando Montiel in their bantamweight title fight at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas yesterday. AP]

MANILA, Philippines - Proving he’s a man of his word, Nonito Donaire Jr. made good on his vow to knock out Fernando Montiel of Mexico in a sensational performance reminiscent of Manny Pacquiao’s second round demolition of Ricky Hatton.

Donaire promised to be the first fighter ever to stop Montiel and did it with a flourish in the second round of their WBC/WBO bantamweight title bout before 4,805 fans at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas last Saturday night (yesterday morning, Manila).

In a devastating display of power, the Filipino Flash landed a counter left hook to the temple and added a right uppercut as Montiel crumpled to the canvas. Montiel lay flat on his back, his legs twitching uncontrollably a few seconds. He desperately tried to get on his feet, stumbled once and with glazed eyes, managed to beat the count. Referee Russell Mora took a long look at Montiel before resuming the action. But the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Donaire came charging in. He faked a right then connected with a jarring left to the side of the face. Montiel was virtually defenseless. Mora quickly stepped in to end it at the 2:25 mark.

There was no question who was the superior fighter. Donaire enjoyed a 3 1/2 inch advantage in reach and was three inches taller. The disparity in size was obvious from the start. Montiel was outgunned, outfought and outsmarted.

Montiel, who had previously lost only twice on points, entered the ring looking tight and nervous while Donaire marched in from his dressing room, smiling and looking confident. Donaire was a 2-1 favorite and received a purse of $350,000. Montiel was the defending titlist but his purse was only $250,000, indicating that Donaire was the crowd drawer not the Mexican.

In the first round, Donaire set the pace by aggressively moving in on Montiel. Surprisingly, the Mexican didn’t move away. The distance favored Donaire who had length on his side. A left jab to the face stunned Montiel and a shot to the body made him wince. It was Donaire’s way of delivering a strong message that Montiel was in for a hard day’s night.

Donaire continued to dominate early in the second round but Montiel stood his ground and started to find the range with his left. A left hook to the face stopped Donaire in his tracks. A left uppercut also appeared to jolt the Filipino. As Montiel gained confidence, he stepped in to engage. Donaire baited Montiel to throw the right instead of the left by dropping his left arm and the Mexican bit. Montiel uncorked a right that fell short of its target and in a snap, Donaire lashed out with a counter left hook. The blow struck Montiel on the temple and completely, shook up his senses. As Montiel fell backward, Donaire added a bonus of a right uppercut.

Montiel struggled to get back on his feet and when he did --almost miraculously --Mora allowed it to go on. He shouldn’t have. Donaire inflicted more punishment on Montiel, although only briefly, before Mora waved it off. Last year, Mora worked two fights which Filipinos lost. He was the third man in the ring when Eric Morel outpointed Gerry Peñalosa in Las Vegas and Julio Cesar Miranda halted Richie Mepranum in Mexico.

“Mentally and physically, I was ready,” said Donaire. “I was very motivated. I’m getting better. All respect to Montiel. He was the best bantamweight in the world. But I’ve proved myself.”

Donaire wouldn’t confirm what’s next in his agenda and said he’d leave it up to his manager Cameron Dunkin and promoter Bob Arum.

Without hesitation, Arum said Donaire could be competitive all the way up to the super featherweight division where the weight limit is 130 pounds. Arum said it’s likely Donaire won’t bother to face the winner of the April 23 duel between IBF bantamweight champion Joseph Agbeko of Ghana and unbeaten IBO titleholder Abner Mares of Mexico.

“Donaire is too fast, too big and too powerful,” said Arum. “I don’t think fighting the other bantamweights would be too competitive. Money talks in boxing. I can see Donaire taking on (WBO featherweight champion) Juanma Lopez in a big money fight.”

Donaire, 28, said if Arum and Dunkin agree, he might try to unify the 118-pound title and meet the Agbeko-Mares survivor then he’ll shoot for the WBO super bantamweight crown now held by unbeaten Wilfred Vazquez Jr. of Puerto Rico. Down the road, a match-up against Lopez looms in the horizon. Vazquez is booked to battle Mexico’s Jorge Arce in the undercard of the Pacquiao-Sugar Shane Mosley mainer in Las Vegas on May 7.

Donaire’s win over Montiel raised his record to 26-1, with 18 KOs. Montiel’s mark fell to 44-3-2, with 34 KOs.

In the undercard, Filipino welterweight Mark Melligen pounded out a unanimous 10-round decision over Mexico’s Gabriel Martinez to raise his record to 21-2, with 14 KOs.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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