Naoya Inoue was crowned the World Boxing Super Series Bantamweight Champion, and added the WBA (Super) belt to his IBF one, in an all time classic affair with Nonito Donaire at the Saitama Arena in Saitama, Japan.
It was a contest few expected to play out the way that it did, and both played their part in a truly unbelievable display.
Japanese buzzsaw Inoue was favoured to deal with Donaire handily, but he was forced to dig deep, with several tests offered up by the “Filipino Flash” during the fight.
Inoue had reached the final with the minimum of fuss, a one round blow out of Juan Carlos Payano was followed by a two round demolition of IBF Champion, Emmanuel Rodriguez. Donaire had picked up the WBA (Super) crown after Ryan Burnett suffered injury, and he then stunningly knocked out late replacement, Stephon Young in the semi finals.
Often over rated is Inoue’s jab, due to the fact his fights are over before they begin, but it was on display in all its glory in the opener. The pair exchanged, and drew appreciation from the crowd, with Donaire opting for body shots, while Inoue kept pumping the jab.
Inoue took the lead again in the next, letting go of a hurtful hook early on. Donaire was sticking to his large task though, and landed a thudding left hook to the chin that the Japanese hero clearly felt in round two, and his right eye was cut as a result, and his legs were stiffened by the shot.
The pace was fierce, and Donaire, to his credit, was remaining on the front foot, largely dictating matters in the third. The earlier cut was seemingly bothering Inoue, as he took to keeping a tight guard in front of it in the fourth. Two right hooks from the Filipino found the mark, with his jab now coming into play, and Inoue now had blood damage to his nose. “The Monster” was now enduring a gut check, but was still landing shots of his own that unfortunately were bouncing off the visitor, who continued to come forward.
Round five saw Inoue regain order, and Donaire was staggered by a left hand, and then took a power right . The bell for the end of the round saved Nonito, as a big right hand had him in massive trouble, with his legs now stiffened, but he was displaying a great chin and was taking some meaty shots from the favourite.
Donaire regained his senses in the sixth, and although he was still shipping punishment, he was still firing back, making it to the second half of the fight, while still giving Naoya plenty of things to think about. Donaire let out a flurry of punches in round seven, but Inoue ended the session with a volley of vicious punches. Donaire though, continued to make subtle adjustments, and was landing well to the body, as well as right hooks, with Inoue largely neglecting body shots due to his earlier eye injury. The eighth saw a big right hand stun Inoue, with the veteran coming on strong, with Inoue’s cut worsening.
Halfway through the ninth, Inoue was rocked badly from a big Donaire right hand, and he did well to hold on for dear life, but his eye was becoming more and more of a mess, with his face awash with blood. Inoue’s bravery was admirable, and he was making a stand into the championship rounds, with the tenth seeing him land crunching shots and a big overhand right at the end of the round, raising his fist to the crowd on the bell. He did have to take a jab that jolted his head back earlier in the frame.
— Dan Frost (@DannyBoyFrost) 7 Samhain 2019
The action was incredible, and just when you thought you’d seen everything in the fight, Inoue returned to his fierce body punching, and uncorked a crippling left to the body that forced Donaire to run around the ring in agony before taking a knee. Nonito rose at “9” and then bravely saw out the round despite further barrages from the home fighter, even responding with a big hook of his own.
The fight absorbed the viewer until the very end, Inoue continuing to pound the body, with Donaire showing plenty of heart and courage as the fight went to the scorecards.
INOUE GETS IT!🏆
WHAT a lunch break 😉 pic.twitter.com/vYaLplkAof
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) 2019년 11월 7일
Scores of 117-109, 116-112 and 114-113 were enough to crown Inoue the winner of the always excellent competition, with Donaire far from disgraced in defeat. It’s a fight that will live long in the memory, and stand the test of time as one of the best toe to toe fights of all time.