A rematch of a 2019 classic takes place this Tuesday at the Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, as Naoya Inoue, the Japanese buzzsaw and WBA ‘super’ and IBF bantamweight champion, takes on the evergreen WBC boss, Nonito Donaire in a fascinating sequel.
UK fans can see Inoue vs Donaire on Top Rank’s YouTube channel and on ESPN+ in the USA.
Inoue (22-0, 19 KOs) had cut a swathe through the lower weights prior to his original meeting with Donaire, winning world titles at light flyweight and super flyweight, before taking the WBA belt at bantamweight in May 2018 with a one round blowout of Jamie McDonnell.
‘The Monster’ then reached the final of the World Boxing Super Series in less than three rounds, adding the IBF title along the way against Ryan Burnett and knocking out Stephen Young to set up a November 2019 showdown with the Japanese star.
With the now 39-year-old was expected to be straightforward, with the ‘The Filipino Flash’ having had a long career to that point, and in patchy form.
However, their clash was a classic, with Inoue tested to the limit like never before, troubled regularly by ‘The Filipino Flash’.
The 29-year-old showed plenty of resolve though, dropping Donaire (42-6, 28 KOs) in the penultimate frame before taking a points win.
Since then, Inoue has remained unbeaten, halting each of his three opponents in Jason Moloney (KO7), Michael Dasmarinas (KO3) and Aran Dipaen (TKO8), in dominant fashion.
Donaire rebounded instantly, taking the WBC title from Nordine Oubaali via fourth round knockout, before defending the crown in his last fight by the same method and round against Reymart Gaballo.
Prediction: Inoue was pushed extremely close by Donaire, who is enjoying an Indian Summer in his career, and he will have learned a lot from their first contest.
For this reason, I expect Inoue to make fewer mistakes, and have fewer troubles in what should be another thrilling bout. My pick is for Inoue to come through via clear decision.
The undercard features another Inoue, as Naoya’s brother Takuma Inoue defends his WBO Asia Pacific super bantamweight title against Japanese champion, Gakuya Furuhashi.
Inoue (15-1, 3 KOs) lost to the aforementioned Oubaali for the WBC belt at bantamweight in 2019, but has won two straight since.
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Furuhashi (28-8-2, 16 KOs) has had a long career, and drew his last contest.
Prediction: The pick is for Inoue to prevail on the cards against a man that has never been stopped.
At super lightweight, Andy Hiraoka (19-0, 14 KOs) should defend his Japanese super lightweight title with a stoppage win over Shun Akaiwa (7-3-1, 5 KOs), while at super bantamweight, Toshiya Ishii (5-1, 3 KOs) should get the better of his eight rounder with Hikaru Fukunaga (9-2, 6 KOs) on the scorecards.
At light flyweight, Kanamu Sakama (5-0, 4 KOs) can remain unbeaten with an early win in his six round contest with Fuki Ishigaki (4-4, 2 KOs), and at welterweight, Kota Matsuno makes his debut, and can win on the cards over four against Minori Okamura (2-1, 1 KO).
Chihiro Iwashita (3-0-1, 2 KOs) should defeat Seiryu Yamana (2-1, 1 KO) in their four rounder at super featherweight.