Nonito Donaire was never in this predicament before at any point in his illustrious career spanning three decades.

Not even in his twelve previous rounds with Naoya Inoue did the former four-division champion experience a moment where he was separated from his senses in the ring. It happened near the end of the first round of their bantamweight title unification rematch, when Inoue landed a flush right hand to Donaire’s temple to floor the future Hall of Famer for the first of two times en route to a second-round knockout loss Tuesday in Saitama, Japan.

“When I got hit, I didn’t even know I got dropped,” Donaire confessed during a bonus post-fight installment on his Beyond The Ring with Nonito and Rachel YouTube channel. “I didn’t see that punch because I was trying to counter him and got caught. That was pretty much it.

“I will pretty much say that was the hardest punch I’ve ever been hit with. That first (knockdown), I came up completely blank. I didn’t see that punch coming at all.

“I didn’t even know what happened. I was trying to counter. All of a sudden I was on the floor and (referee Michael Griffin) was counting me. I was like ‘What is happening? Are you kidding me?’ Then I looked in the corner and Rach(el Donaire, Nonito’s wife/trainer/manager) said, ‘Put your hands up or he’ll count you out.’ And I’m like ‘Oh sh!t, I got dropped!’”

The 39-year-old Donaire—a current Las Vegas resident originally from the Philippines—was dropped again midway through round two, this time with the fight coming to an immediate close.

Donaire was stopped just once before in his 48 previous fights, a sixth-round stoppage versus then-unbeaten Nicholas Walters in their October 2014 WBA featherweight title fight. Donaire was in his fifth weight class against a prime version of Jamaica’s Walters but still managed a valiant effort before the fight was halted.

The Filipino star saw his stock soar to new heights even in defeat in his November 2019 meeting with Inoue, where he survived an eleventh-round knockdown from a body shot to come up short on the cards. Donaire was competitive throughout, including his busting Inoue’s nose and leaving the unbeaten three-division champ with a fractured orbital bone in their WBA/IBF bantamweight unification bout.

The rematch came with Yokohama’s Inoue (23-0, 20KOs) defending those belts and Donaire risking the WBC strap he acquired in a fourth-round knockout of unbeaten Nordine Oubaali last May 29. Donaire was a considerable betting underdog but the sentimental favorite to upend Inoue, who delivered an emphatic reminder of why has for years served as a fixture near the top of most pound-for-pound rankings.

In the end, Donaire did what he does best in any situation—accept the outcome and embrace life.

“It is what it is,” noted Donaire, the 2011 Fighter of the Year and 2018 BWAA Good Guy Award recipient. “I’m very grateful that I’m healthy.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox