By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
There are always questions hovering over any young fighter who has a great punch and breezes through with an unbeaten record. How good were the guys that he beat? What happens when he gets hit by a big punch? How will he react to getting knocked down or being cut? How will he handle himself when he faces a tricky veteran?
Naoya Inoue answered these questions in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) Bantamweight finals Thursday night.
This is not to say Inoue doesn’t have a great body of work already.
He turned pro in 2012 and captured his first world title two years later by stopping Mexican Adrian Hernandez in six rounds for the WBC light flyweight crown. He would bypass the flyweight division and stop the tough Argentine Omar Narvaez in two rounds for the WBO junior bantamweight title. After seven defenses, the Yokohama Monster would terrorize the bantamweight ranks, winning the secondary WBA crown and the IBF world title and easily toppling British Jamie McDonnell, Dominican Juan Carlos Payano and Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez enroute to the WBSS finals.
But the Filipino Flash is in an entirely different class; a veteran boxer who distinguished himself in five weight categories and has a Hall of Fame resume. After experiencing a downslide in his career a few years ago, he once again drew attention in the WBSS by reaching the finals.
Roughly 90 percent of those surveyed picked Inoue, many by knockout. But deep down, people knew Donaire was still dangerous. He could still have one good fight left in him. And he did.
But Donaire’s gallant effort was not enough. He drew blood by cutting Inoue with a punch to the right eye as early as the second. He showed Godzilla was human.
Donaire had his moments when he rocked Inoue with his right hand and scored well to the body. But Inoue, roughly ten years younger, was expected to recuperate faster in the grueling fight.
Welts started to show on Donaire’s face as blood continued to seep from Inoue’s nose and the cut eyelid. But Inoue threw the harder shots. He slowly but surely built his lead. Donaire had opportunities to drop Inoue but the Japanese hung on and fired back.
In the decisive eleventh round, a hard left to the liver had the Filipino turning and grimacing in pain before he went down on his knee. He bravely got up when most boxers couldn’t or wouldn’t. Donaire continued to take shots in the last round in his effort for one last miracle punch. But it wasn’t meant to be. All three judges scored it for Inoue - 116-111, 117-109 and 114-113. The pro-Inoue crowd of more than 20,000 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan celebrated.
Inoue (19-0,16KO’s) unified the IBF and WBA world titles and won the Muhammad Ali Trophy. His gutsy display through blood will certainly earn him more accolades.
A great opponent in the future would be the WBC bantamweight champ Nordine Oubaali (17-0,12KO’s) of France, who beat Naoya’s younger brother, Takuma Inoue by unanimous decision in the main supporting bout.
If Donaire (40-6,26KO’s)- who will turn 37 on November 16 – decides to leave boxing for good, he can hold his head high and look back at an incredible career. Together with Manny Pacquiao, they gave us the Golden Age of Philippine Boxing.
Photo – Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire embrace after the final bell.
These articles are submitted by guest writers and sites. They aren't submitted by the usual folk behind Asian Boxing and don't fall in line with our editorial stance, giving a fresh view on various boxing issues from the Asian boxing scene.