The first fight between Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire (2019) is considered one of the best of the last decade. This Tuesday, in Saitama, both had their revenge. A great show was expected, it was and that not even two rounds were consumed. The 29-year-old Japanese knocked out Donaire in 276 seconds. It was a whirlwind that the Filipino legend (39 years old) was not able to stop. With this resounding victory, Inoue unifies the WBC, WBA and IBF bantamweight world championships and rises to number one in many of the pound-for-pound rankings. The Japanese is world champion in three different divisions (light flyweight, super flyweight and bantamweight), won the World Boxing Super Series at 118 pounds, is undefeated in 23 fights (19 kO) and is within a shot of unifying his current weight. Those lists are very personal, but with Canelo’s loss, Terence Crawford’s inactivity in 2022 (he’ll fight Spence in the summer), and such an impressive win, he’s earned that spot.
The fight began vibrant. The first round was study, but in the manner of Inoue and Donaire. They both got into medium-close range and started shooting. The Japanese finished with 56% of hits connected and the Filipino with 44%, impressive. The Japanese came clearer, but a straight right made the Filipino come up. The contest was even, but in the end they decided to exchange blows and with a clear right hand Donaire went to the ground. The bell saved the legend, who came out brave… but he was touched for the second round. Inoue’s reception was a very hard crochet. He continued with a barrage of blows. Donaire, drawing on experience, wrinkled and waited for his moment, but he was not going to arrive. Every time the local connected his legs trembled.
Donaire’s courage is well known, which is why he tried to command. He put Inoue against the ropes and the Japanese just had to wait. With a half flown and dry left he put Nonito’s rag legs, who barely managed to go to the other corner. With his back on the ropes (he was backing up and taking hits), Inoue launched a right hand that culminated in a crochet that sent the Filipino to the canvas. The fight ended there, there was a show, but it did not last long. Inoue was the usual ‘Monster’, Donaire couldn’t stop him this time. The apprentice received his doctorate again before the professor.