Macau: Former five-division world champion Nonito Donaire of the Philippines showed he was back to his very best with a sensational second-round stoppage of France`s Anthony Settoul in Macau on Saturday.
The 2012 Fighter of the Year improved his record to 35 wins and three defeats (23 KOs) and is now in line for another world title crack, probably for the WBA super bantamweight belt against Britain`s Scott Quigg in Dubai later this year.
The classy and powerful "Filipino Flash" soon had the Frenchman (20-4, 8 KOs) in trouble in the opening round of their scheduled 10-round super bantamweight fight with stunning body shots that twice dropped him to his knees.
In the second round more telling punches to the diaphragm were followed with a bone-shaking right cross to the chin that put Settoul down once more.
Although he bravely managed to just beat the count he was visibly unsteady on his feet, staggering backwards across the ring as his corner threw in the towel to save him from further punishment with 1min 41sec gone in the second.
"We worked really hard for this fight and I did everything I needed to do," said a barely sweating Donaire afterwards.
"I wanted to set him up with the body shots and finish it from there."
Two other fighters had very easy nights as their opponents quit in confusing and slightly unsatisfactory fashion.
American-based Russian Denis Shafikov enjoyed an easy win when his Indonesian lightweight opponent Roy Mukhlis decided he no longer wanted to continue halfway through the third round.
Former US Olympian Jose Ramirez had a facile win after also travelling halfway around the world to the southern Chinese city when his Japanese opponent Ryusei Yoshida quit on his stool at the start of the fourth round.
Ramirez (15-0, 12 KOs) was awarded a technical knockout in an anti-climactic end to the junior welterweight contest after catching Yoshida with several heavy shots towards the end of the third round.
Chinese fight fans earlier had plenty to be delighted about at Cotai Arena.
There was a stirring display by local favourite "Macau Kid" Kuok Kun Ng who knocked out awkward southpaw Phompetch Twins Gym two minutes into the fourth round of their welterweight contest.
"KK" as he is known took his record to 8-0 (4 KOs) when he landed a peach of a right uppercut on the Thai southpaw who was out even before he hit the canvas.
And the super flyweight "Wonder Kid" Rex Tso from nearby Hong Kong continued his march towards a world title shot by taking his record to 17-0 (10 KOs) with a fourth-round stoppage of Thailand`s Khunkhiri Wor Wisaruth.
It appeared the referee may have stepped in a little early to save Wisaruth (21-12-1, 14 KOs) from further punishment, but the heavy-punching Tso was dominating the fight and the outcome was inevitable.