Nonito Donaire stopped Jorge Arce with a left late in the third round Saturday night to retain the WBO super bantamweight title and send the Mexican veteran into retirement.

Donaire, a San Lorenzo High grad born in the Philippines, improved to 31-1 with his 20th knockout. Arce dropped to 61-7-2.

"My left hook was a damaging hook tonight," Donaire said. "I felt very strong in the ring."

Donaire won in front of a raucous, mostly pro-Arce crowd of 7,250 at Houston's Toyota Center.

"The reason why people survive is because they are afraid to open up," Donaire said. "I have a lot of respect for (Arce) because he came in there, and he opened up. He wasn't afraid. He was aiming to surprise me. But when he was opening up, that gave me the left hook and when I can throw sitting down on that left hook, everybody will go down."

The 30-year-old Donaire hasn't lost a fight in more than 11 years. He also knocked down Arce with about 2 minutes to go in the second round with a right-left combination.

"I'd promised my kids that If I lost this fight, I'd retire," said the 33-year-old Arce, a former world champion. The fight headlined HBO's "World Championship Boxing" season finale, and the broadcast marked Larry Merchant's last after 35 years as a ringside boxing commentator for the network.

The 81-year-old Merchant was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2009.

"Thirty-five years on one show in television? I never imagined that it could go on for that long, because that is not what happens in the entertainment world."


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An undercard fight between WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba and Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym of Thailand was scratched.