Just moments after Naoya Inoue's (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] younger brother, Takuma Inoue, lost in his challenge for the WBC Bantamweight title the "Monster" walked out to face Filipino icon Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26), played in by the sounds of iconic Japanese musician Tomoyasu Hotei, marking a change from Noriako Sato's "Departure".
The occasion however called on something special, the WBSS Bantamweight final. The bout to crown the Muhammad Ali trophy winner, and to unify the WBA, IBF, WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine titles. It was the conclusion of a tournament that had started more than a year ago, and been a genuinely global tournament with fights in Lafayette, Orlando, Ekaterinburg, Glasgow and Yokohama before concluding with this bout in Saitama.
Many had expected this to be a mismatch. The next quick win for the Monster, he was around 1/9 to win and and it was 1/3 for the bout not to go beyond 4 rounds. This was expected to be little more than a formality. On paper it was the WBSS final the fighters wanted, but maybe not the fans. In the end however it was the final we deserved, and it was a genuine Fight of the Year Contender.
The fight started with Inoue looking razor sharp, and landing everything he wanted against Donaire in the first round. Donaire however never seemed phased until early in round 2, when he was rocked, and hurt for the first time in the fight. Donaire however turned the tide later in round 2 when he landed he patented left hook, cutting Inoue over the right eye, and Inoue the first cut of his career. The cut seemed to make Inoue wary and in rounds 3 Inoue boxed smart, moving, backing off and staying say behind his quicker foot work. That smart boxing allowed him to regain his grip on the bout
In round 4 Inoue began to unload on Donaire with bigger shots as the Filipino walked forward, trying to wear Inoue down. It was a risky strategy from the Filipino but one that he felt could work as he continued to press, walking through shots that would have dropped anyone else in the division. He was hurt a few times, including wobbling in round 5, but managed to come through the storm and leave Inoue with a bloodied nose.
The pressure of Donaire again came at a cost in rounds in rounds 6 and 7 as he was left being out boxed. Inoue combined both smart movement, heavy shots and jabs to chip away at Donaire, and in round 7 it looked like the work of Inoue had done it's job. Donaire was looking slow, and worse for war.
Despite having the moment things changed massively in rounds 8 when he hurt Inoue early in the round with a great right hand. For much of the round Donaire was the boss, and it suddenly seemed like all the pressure from Donaire had began to have the desired effects. By the end of the round blood was streaming down Inoue's face as the cut from the right eye worsened, and he took more punishment in one round than we'd seen from him in his entire career. That was followed by another huge Donaire round, and by the the end of round 9 Inoue had seemingly put his aggressive mindset to bed, boxing and moving, and trying all he could to avoid the power of Donaire.
Momentum again shifted in round 10 as Inoue showed some new found energy, and despite taking some heavy shots himself he managed to hurt Donaire, wobbling him seconds before the bell. Inoue knew it was a big shift and roared to the packed out Saitama arena when he got back to his corner. It was as mush a roar of defiance as a was a war call, telling the fans he was okay, and was going to go back on the offensive. Which he did!
In round 11 Inoue dominated Donaire, as he went for the finish, hurting Donaire badly with a left hand to the body. The shot seemed to put Donaire down for the count, though the referee allowed Donaire up at 10. It was a brave call from the referee but a desire to let a veteran like Donaire go out on his shield, if he needed to. Despite getting to his feet Donaire took a hammering through the rest of the of round as Inoue went all out for the finish. In some places that would have been in. Enough was enough. Here however the fight continued and we went into the final round, something that few expected, and even fewer would have anticipated after the knockdown.
Some how Donaire had recovered by the start of the final round, but Inoue maintained his aggressive mentality and went for the finish again. Donaire somehow saw off the round, with only his incredible toughness keeping him up and fighting back as the two traded shots at the bell.
It seemed like a clear win on the scorecards for Inoue, he had been tested, he had been hurt, he had been cut, he had been shaken, but he had racked up the rounds. And two of the judges agreed, scoring it 116-111, 117-109 and 114-113.
The first two scores seemed about right, and we had it 117-110, giving Donaire rounds 2, 8 and 9, though we really need to query what Robert Hoyle had been watching as he some how had the bout decided by the knockdown in round 11. A bizarre score, that really does need explaining.
With the win Inoue claims the WBA Super title, retains the IBF and Ring Magazine titles and adds the Muhammad Ali trophy to his collection of silverware whilst Donaire likely bows out of professional boxing with one of his greatest ever performances, even if it did come in a loss.
The first man to book himself a place in the Season 2 WBSS finals was Filipino star Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26), who's much vaunted left hook showed it's self just moments ago, as he left American Stephon Young (18-2-3, 7) flat on his back. Not only did he book his place in the WBSS Bantamweight final, but also retained the WBA "super" Bantamweight title.
Young, a late replacement for South African Zolani Tete who had to pull out due to a shoulder injury, was taking a huge step up in class and it showed early on as he fought really apprehensively, almost looking scared of Donaire. It wasn't until very late in round 2 that he even seemed to realise he had to throw punches back at Donaire, landing a good combination and a solid straight left hand in the final seconds of the round.
Donaire didn't really seem bothered by Young's shots, even when they landed clean, as he just walked the American down. The game plan seemed to be clearly about pressuring Young, and he aggressively stalked him, looking to land his hook and straight hands. The pressure from Donaire opened up chances for him to land, and in round 3 he seemed to clearly hurt Young, who had no answer to the pressure of Donaire.
The Filipino wasn't just walking down Young but was reading him at the same time, and was getting closer and closer to landing a thunderous left hook. That hook finally landed clean in round 6, when he detonated on the chin of Young, who dropped lack a sack of potatoes. The referee could have counted to 100 and Young wouldn't have beat the count, it was a truly fantastic shot and left Young out of it.
This win secures Donaire a bout against either Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) or Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12), who meet in May to decide the second finalist. After today's win Donaire revealed he would rather face Inoue.
Few gave Filipino icon Nonito Donaire (39-5, 25) any chance in his WBSS quarter-final bout against the unbeaten #1 seeded Ryan Burnett (19-1, 9). Amazingly, though bizarrely, Donaire managed to get the win to advance to the tournaments semi-final and become the WBA Bantamweight “super” champion.
We mentioned “bizarrely” because the end of the bout was indeed bizarre, with Burnett injuring himself and needing to retire from the bout between rounds 4 and 5.
The fight started competitively, much more so than expected. Burnett had the edge in speed, something that everyone expected, but Donaire looked dangerous and had moments in the opening round. It was Donaire who pressed forward, though did have to eat some solid single shots from Burnett, who looked tiny compared to the Filipino.
The second round saw Burnett look better than he had in the opening round, looking sharper and crisper, with a brilliant right hand landing clean early in the round. Though Burnett looked good he was cornered at one point in the round and it seemed like Donaire's pressure was having some effect, and he was pulling Burnett into his fight.
In round 3 Donaire had success in cornering Burnett more often and his pressure really did show through, as he caught Burnett on a pretty frequent basis. Burnett still looked the crisper fighter, and he landed a really 1-2 mid way through the round, but he was cornered late and forced to eat some solid shots as Donaire let his combinations go.
Donaire continued to press in round 4, and despite falling short with a number of shots the pace began to slow and suit him. Burnett, really was slowing massively and doing little. Even when Donaire fell short there was little coming back from the champion. Sadly towards the end of round 4 Burnett turned his body, and went down in agony with what seemed like a back injury. He got back up but was a damaged fighter and Donaire knew it as he looked for a finish.
Burnett's toughness saw him see out the round, but rightfully he was pulled from the bout between round 4 and 5, and then left the ring on a stretcher.
We hope the injury is something that won't keep Burnett out of the ring for long, he's a really talented young fighter and it would be a huge shame if this effects his career long term. For Donaire it's a huge win and sets up a semi-final with Zolani Tete in the new year. If he gets through that and Naoya Inoue can get past Emmanuel Rodriguez we may end up with a huge WBSS final for Asia.
The second of 4 world title fights this evening in the US saw a new WBO Featherweight champion being crowned as Filipino legend Nonito Donaire (37-4, 24) was out pointed by unbeaten challenger Jessie Magdaleno (24-0, 17).
The fight started slowly and tactically with the first two rounds being very quiet and seemed to be won by Magdaleno's slightly fast work, with Donaire looking like the older and slower fighter. Despite Magdaleno looking quicker there was very little to pick between them in the early stages.
In round 3 Donaire seemed to change tact, bringing more concentrated pressure to Magdaleno who was forced to respond. The round was a much more engaging one and although it was Donaire changing the game plan it was one that he didn't really land a lot in. The same tactic however did pay off in round 4, although it was a round where the key event was a clash of heads that left Magdaleno cut around the left eye.
Despite the cut Magdaleno had a solid round 5, landing what was the best shot of the right up to that point, the success from that round seemed to fill the challenger with confidence and he he looked in control a lot more in the rounds that followed as Donaire looked to land a game change. In round 7 finally landed a major blow, a body shot, but he continued to struggle to land consistently and his blows, which had looked destructive in recent bouts, failed to budge Magdaleno.
Although Donaire seemed to be behind going into the later stages of the fight he seemed determined to continue his game plan of trying to walk down Magdaleno. The right hands from Donaire were starting to land regularly during those stages but Magdaleno himself was having great success with body shots before unloading with Donaire on the ropes late in round 9. It seemed, during the final minute of the round, as if the whole fight changed with both men being hurt. Despite being hurt in round 9 Donaire came out for round 10 looking rejuvenated and pressed forth putting the challenger under pressure and landed some solid shots, but was countered numerous times by the younger man.
Going into the championship rounds Donaire likely thought he was behind and came out looking for a KO, throwing big shots early and connecting with a number of them. Again it seemed like he couldn't turn things around with a single shot, but he was going to keep looking for a KO blow, and often got tagged with counters from a still energetic Magdaleno. Donaire continued looking for a big shot through out the final round and landed several that shook up Magdaleno, though never managed to drop his man, or score a fighting ending KO blow.
Despite the effort from Donaire it seemed clear he had come up short, despite being on the front foot for the most part. He seemed too slow and was never able to maintain any major success to change the fight around. The cards, with scores of 116-112, twice, and 118-110 were all in Magdaleno's favour and despite there being some close rounds it did seem like a 116-112 type win for Magdaleno.
With the loss Donaire is likely looking at retirement, or final run, whilst Magdaleno announces himself as a serious player at 122lbs.
Every so often we get world title challengers who really don't deserve to be ranked, with little qualifications for a world title bout and really no chance against any world class fighters. That was seen today when WBO Super Bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24) gave a harsh reality lesson to the woefully inadequate Hungarian challenger Zsolt Bedak (25-2, 8).
The opening round was relatively competitive with Donaire spending much of the round easing himself into the contest whilst a tense Bedak looked like a fighter who was stepping up and trying to make sure that he wasn't over-awed too soon. Sadly for the challenger the round was the only one where he looked even close to being competitive.
In round 2 Donaire moved through the gears with a left hook shaking up the Hungarian who was dropped in a follow up attack from the Filipino. Bedak got to his feet, and was somewhat lucky that Donaire was looking for a 1-punch KO as it gave him time to recover some senses, though the Hungarian was tagged several times before being dropped again from a counter shot at the end of the round. That secured Donaire a 10-7 record but seemed to show that the bout really was a massive mismatch of ability, speed and power, with Bedak too slow, too limited and too feather fisted to have any kind of a chance.
With Bedak already in a hole, and having been dropped twice, it seemed like the bout was a case of "when" not "if" the challenger world get stopped. That ending was in round 3 when Donaires speed and power again took it's toll on Bedak with a series of shots that resulted in Bedak going down for the third time in the bout. The Hungarian did his best to get to his feet, but the bloodied fighter couldn't convince the referee that he was fit to continue.
With the win Donaire records the first defense of his current as a world champion, sadly the bout was a huge mismatch but it was a home coming for the exciting Filipino who hasn't fought in a world title bout in the Philippines in 7 years, with his last world title bout their being a 4th round TKO win over Raul Martinez. Hopefully his next bout will be a more notable one.
When it comes to Bedak, the WBO have to explain what they thought qualified him for a world title fight, especially against a genuinely top fighter like Donaire.
Every so often we get a fight that isn't expected to anything special, in fact the bout may well be derided as a mismatch, but turns out to be an amazing fight that takes on a life of it's own and leaves fans wanting more. This past Friday we had one such fight as Nonito Donaire (36-3, 23) and Cesar Juarez (17-4, 13) put on something very special for the WBO Super Bantamweight title.
The bout was supposed to be a mismatch, in fact some bookies in the UK had Donaire at almost unbackable odds. Despite the feeling of a mismatch the fight actually ended up being very competitive, thrilling and a bout that really told a story that showed what makes boxing such a special sport.
The bout began like many expected. Donaire was simply too good, too smart, too fast, too accurate and seemingly had too much of everything. The first round saw the landing a monstrous right hand to effectively welcome Juarez into the fight and followed it up with a number of massive right hands up top and left hooks to the body. It looked like the story of the fight was going to be a very short one and it seemed like Juarez simply had no idea what to do with Donaire.
Rounds 2 and 3 were much like the opening round. They were all Donaire with the Filipino seemingly in total control, he couldn't miss and it seemed like Juarez was certain to be stopped. The much vaunted power of Donaire was connecting time and time again, and the shots were clean every time. The only real variance came in the final 30 seconds of round 3, when Juarez finally managed to have some success of his own, albeit only limited success.
Having clearly taken the first 3 rounds Donaire seemed to grow and in round 4 he continued to land right hands. The success of Donaire's clean shots seemed to stagger Juarez who went down as the fighters seemed to tangle feet. It was ruled a knockdown, but was a controversial call. It seemed however that it was going to be incident and not long afterwards Juarez was down again, a legitimate and painful looking knockdown. The second knockdown seemed to hurt Juarez who came out fighting, as if he was wanting to go down swinging rather than just take a loss. The opportunities that Juarez gave allowed Donaire to land further bombs but the Mexican saw off the storm and seemed to win a mini battle with himself. It was a 10-7 round but it was a round that had plenty of positives for Juarez, who had proven just how tough he was.
In round 5 Donaire looked for the kill, he again landed some bombs but they didn't have they effect they had had earlier in the fight. Instead they seemed to spur on Juarez who, near the end of the round, cornered Donaire and got off with some serious offensive work with the Filipino on the ropes. It was a sign that Juarez was there to fight, and wasn't merely there to make up the numbers. He had gone through hell early on and was now ready to pay it back.
The payback from Juarez continued in round 6 as Donaire began the round on his toes, moving but not punching, hit output dropped off completely whilst Juarez moved through the gears and began to cut the ring off, forcing Donaire on to the ropes. It wasn't a clear and decisive round, but it was a notable round, with Donaire slipping late and seemingly injuring his ankle. His corner went to work on it, and did seem like it was going to be dramatic, though it never seemed to clearly effect the fight following the slip.
With Donaire clearly slowing in terms of his output Juarez began to turn it on and round 7 was a massive round for Juarez who regularly pinned Donaire against the ropes and unloaded with flurry after flurry. In the first 90 seconds the action was all Juarez with the Mexican really forcing the issue whilst the second half of the round saw Donaire having some success, but not enough with Juarez continuing to out work him.
Juarez continued to build on his success and in round 8 he continued to press the action. He was forced to eat some counters, some huge counters, but on the whole it was the work of the Mexican that left a lasting impression. The aggressive work of Juarez seemed to be helping him claw his way back into the fight and seemed to really be taking it's toll on Donaire who marking up and being forced to fight Juarez's fight. Despite the complexion of the fight changing it seemed as though Juarez had too much ground to make up, though he wasn't going to just give up.
Rounds 9 and 10 continued in much the same vein, with Juarez forcing the action with an insane work rate and intense pressure. He had mixed success, but in both rounds he managed to get Donaire on the ropes and unload with the Filipino becoming more and more ragged by the round. So ragged was Donaire that it seemed he was knocked down in round 10, though the referee called it a slip. Despite becoming ragged Donaire was landing his right hand counter at will, though it had no effect at all on the Mexican who seemed to just reset himself and come right back at the Filipino star, who must have wondered what it would take to stop his 24 year old foe.
Although rounds 9 and 10 were Juarez's rounds he was still going to need several KD's, if not a KO, to win and he seemed to know it as he came our fast in round 11. That lead to a number of brilliant exchanges with Juarez forcing Donaire to the ropes and Donaire firing back in a flurries of shots, as the two traded, standing toe to toe. The action was dictated, again, by Juarez but Donaire was being forced to hold his own. The round was brilliant and both men deserve credit for their efforts, though the round will quickly be forgotten
The reason round 11 will be forgotten is because the two then gave us a round of the year contender, in fact they may well have given us the best round of the year.
Juarez came out fast and immediately had Donaire on the ropes and began unloading his shots. Donaire eventually got some space and freedom but his respite was short as Juarez charged back in, almost immediate. The assault from Juarez continued until thee was about a minute left. It seemed like Donaire was running on fumes, and then suddenly Donaire fired back stopping Juarez in his tracks. The Mexican regrouped and was tagged again before the two traded solid shots to the bell. It was breath taking, jaw dropping and and all action.
By the final bell it seemed like the early success of Donaire was easy to forget. He had been dragged through hell for the final 6 rounds of the fight. The work of Juarez, whilst not the cleanest, was eye catching, and it seemed that overall Juarez had certainly done enough to make the cards at least close. Sadly the effort wasn't really shown on the cards which were 116-110, twice and 117-109, all in favour of Donaire, who reclaimed the WBO Super Bantamweight title.
Whilst the Filipino got the win, we dare say it's come at a cost and it's unlikely that he'll be the same fighter, in fact the punishment taken here will have aged Donaire significantly and the 33 year old may have just used his “final” good performance in what was a very tough, exciting and brilliant fight.
The first of two major bouts this Saturday saw fireworks being launched almost from the off as Nonito Donaire (33-3, 21) found out he wasn't big enough, strong enough or powerful enough to compete with the best Featherweights on the planet. Unfortunately for Donaire one of those best Featherweights was Jamaican Nicholas Walters (25-0, 21), a man who inflicted the first stoppage loss on Donaire and claimed the WBA Featherweight super title in what appears to have been a bit of a "passing of the torch" type of result.
The bout started interestingly and the first round saw both landing some solid shots. Sadly for Donaire his best shots of the round merely seemed to bounce off the Jamaican fighter who looked so much bigger and stronger. Donaire was the faster man but was giving away so much natural strength and size that the size was hardly an advantage, especially given that Walters' jab was sharp from the off.
Although Walters had won the opening round Donaire managed to take the second round in style as he seriously hurt Walters towards the end of the round. A shot just after the bell seemed to leave Walters looking confused and lost as he got back to his corner and the minute break almost certainly saved the Jamaican from a knockdown. Unfortunately for Donaire that was his major opening and even that didn't come without him taking some punishment in return with the Filipino suffering a cut himself over his eye.
In round 3 it seemed that Donaire was trying to build on his success and looked fantastic early on as he landed several huge counters and looked as good as he did at his best. Unfortunately he couldn't keep that up for the round and his early success was neutralised late as Walters dropped him with his counter right hand and secured a 10-8 round. Donaire got up and and the two went to war in an exciting end to the round.
With both knowing they could hurt each other it seemed they both fought round 4 cautiously with Donaire backing up a lot whilst Walters landed a handful of jabs. It was a disappointing round given the action of rounds 2 and 3 but it seemed clear that Donaire knew he was up against it and was happy to do what he could to survive and hope for an opening. That opening however never came and in round 5 the action picked up again with the men standing toe-to-toe and hammering each other with the occasional bomb. At this point it seemed clear Donaire had no chance but to hope the he landed clear with many of his shots merely bouncing of Walters who was looking amazingly relaxed and strong on the inside.
Donaire's efforts were brave and part way through round 6 his face was showing serious signs of damage. His eyes were swelling and cut and he was beginning to take more and more hard shots whilst being backed up to the ropes. It was a round that was slipping away from the Filipino and he knew it as he attempted to fight back late in the round. That was a mistake and as the two traded shots he was made to pay, being dropped hard and heavy. The Filipino showed immense heart and bravery to recover to his feet but the referee was left with no option but to save the Filipino who was a beaten man.
After the bout both spoke highly of the other and it's clear there is serious respect between the two. Unfortunately for Donaire however this was a painful loss and clearly suggests that he needs to move down a weight if he's going to continue with his career. For Walters however this could set up a bout with Ukrainian sensation Vasyl Lomachenko in what would be a brilliant contest if Bob Arum, who promotes both, feels like making the contest.
We hope this isn't the end of Donaire but the way he was finished is the sort of finish that does send lesser fighters looking for other careers.
The long Macau card earlier today came to a close with the third successive Featherweight world title fight as South Africa's Simpiwe Vetyeka (26-2, 16) attempted to defend the WBA Featherweight "Super" title against popular Filipino Nonito Donaire (33-2, 21) and referee Luis Pabon.
Unfortunately what should have been a really good bout, and was actually warming up to be something special, was ended, like so many other fights, in disappointing, confusion and with more fans questioning the referee than actually celebrating what should have been a fantastic fight.
The fight started slowly with both men trying to take the counter puncher role. Although the round started slowly it started with a flash point that saw Donaire on the canvas with with blood coming from his eye. Apparently from a clash of heads.
The second round saw more clashes of heads as Donaire began to really complain about the cut. It was clear he was very uncomfortable with the cut and the blood and it seemed that every time Vetyeka landed a head shot Donaire was uncomfortable.
In round 3 Donaire clicked mentally and became desperate as he winged in huge shots left right and centre in an attempt to stop Vetyeka. The attack seemed to rock the champion but in round 4 the power of Donaire did tell as he dropped Vetyeka for the fights only official knockdown. It was great from Donaire who loading up on everything he threw but it seemed he though he needed a knockout to win, as if he knew the cut wasn't called a clash of heads from the referee in the first place.
With the bout warming up in rounds 3 and 4 the referee made the disgusting call to call off the fight ruling the cut to have been caused from a head butt, something he hadn't ruled at the point where the cut caused it. This left us with with a confusing ending though one that favoured Donaire who won the title via a highly, highly debatable technical decision.
Had the cut been ruled a head butt in the first round we'd have expected the fight to have been called off in round 3 as a no contest. Had the referee ruled that the cut had not come from a head clash then it should have been a TKO for Vetyeka
Luis Pabon, who officiated this contest, needs to be banned from officiating after this hilarious screw up that did very little to sell the sport to new fans. It wasn't his first major screw up in high profile bouts, having also botched numerous calls in Wladimir Klitschko's bout with Alexander Povetkin, and right now people need to be calling for his head.
To his credit Donaire did offer a rematch but it seems unlikely that we will actually see it next time out with Donaire more likely to face Nicholas Walters to unify the WBA title and the WBA "super" title and when you consider the cut will keep Donaire out for a few months it seems very unlikely we'll see Donaire Vs Vetyeka II.
(ED-Before someone asks if we dislike Donaire, we don't. We do however dislike awful officiating, suspicious endings and things that make us wonder why we follow the sport. We love the sport, we usually love these Macau cards which show case some fantastic talent to a whole new market and we love fights to come to conclusive endings. This bout gave some excitement when Donaire lets his hands go in rounds 3 and 4 but left us with a very, very sour taste in out mouths and a feeling of that the bout wasn't fought in an environment that even gave an indication of being a "fair fight".)
(Image courtesy of http://www.venetianmacao.com/)
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.