Two weeks after eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao scored an impressive unanimous twelve round decision in his trilogy with Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley and announced he was hanging up his gloves to pursue his mission of public service through election to the Senate in next month’s elections, Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire stepped up to assume Manny’s mantle of national sports hero by crushing former Hungarian Olympian and world No. 4 ranked Zsolt Bedak in three rounds before an ecstatic crowd of 25,000 supporters at the sprawling Cebu City Sports Center on a hot and humid Saturdaynight.
After an initial feeling-out round, Donaire connected with his lethal left hook to send the challenger who is himself known as “Mr. Left Hook” crashing to the canvas midway in round two.
With blood dripping from his battered nose, Bedak gamely got up only to be deposited on the seat of his trunks with another vicious left hook that had “no mercy” written all over it.
The bell mercifully saved the Hungarian Olympian who had lost only once before in his career as a pro in a title fight against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr who won by a 10th round TKO after Bedak who suffered a broken jaw in round two survived in a gallant effort for eight more rounds before he called it quits. Vasquez himself was dropped and beaten in lopsided fashion by Donaire who won the super bantamweight title at the Alamadome in San Antonio Texas some years ago.
It was clear the end was near as Donaire, cheered on by fight fans who had embraced him after his heroic battle against an unbelievably strong Cesar Juarez of Mexico to win the 122 pound crown for the second time following his crushing 6th round stoppage against the bigger, stronger Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters, chased the wobbly challenger and ripped into him this time with a cracking right hand that dropped Bedak for a third time giving renowned referee Russell Mora no choice but to call a halt to the massacre at 2:44 of the third round.
Donaire won the hearts of the hometown crowd by speaking in Bisaya since the island of Cebu is proud of its language and boxing heritage. With this memorable performance, Donaire showed that he is indeed worthy of the monicker “Flash”, a name that was worn by Cebu’s favorite son and legendary boxer, Gabriel Elorde, the son of a poor farmer from the town of Bogo who was the longest reigning Filipino world champion until WBO light flyweight Donnie Nietes punched his way to surpass the record in January last year.
ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer who teamed up with lead promoter Top Rank and the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN told The Standard that the plan is to see whether Donaire’s next title defense could also be staged in the Philippines in the face of the massive support from Filipino fight fans looking for someone to carry the torch for Philippine boxing.