On This Day: Nonito Donaire Ices Vic Darchinyan With One Sweet Left Hook

This one-punch knockout was just sweet. Rewind to July 7 of 2007, and “Filipino Flash” Nonito Donaire began his road to true stardom courtesy of a highlight reel KO of the dangerous Vic Darchinyan; a man who scored a number of big knockouts himself. The two met in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Armenian-born “Raging Bull” Darchinyan was defending his IBF flyweight title for the seventh time.

Darchinyan, 28-0, had seen off good fighters in Irene Pacheco, Glenn Donaire (Nonito’s older brother), and Victor Burgos. Darchinyan, who had 22 KO’s to his name, was 29 and in his prime. Donaire was six years younger and he was a whole lot less experienced, on the big stage especially. It didn’t matter.

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Donaire, fighting with amazing poise and assurance, took the fight to the defending champion. Aside from at the end of the opening round, when Darchinyan tagged and hurt Donaire, it was all Donaire on this night. Donaire’s speed was most impressive and he soon opened a cut on the champ’s eye. Donaire was counter-punching in the fourth and then, in the fifth, a sizzling left hook counter to the head sent the southpaw champion down heavily. Vic, his nose pouring blood, tried his best to get back up but his equilibrium had been blasted into another orbit and he fell into the ropes, totally finished.

It was Ring Magazine’s KO and Upset of The Year. It was a win that saw Nonito Donaire win the first of many world titles. The two met again in a 2009 rematch, with Donaire this time stopping Darchinyan in the ninth round.

Darchinyan may not be overly familiar to some younger fans today, yet when he was at his best, he really was a thrilling fighter to watch. Donaire of course fought just a few weeks back, when he was on the receiving end of a quick KO, this in his rematch with Naoya Inoue.

But 15 years ago today, “The Filipino Flash” was the hot young fighter absolutely everyone was talking about.