Figuring out how to beat Japanese ‘monster’ Naoya Inoue makes Nonito Donaire feel 21 again
MANILA, Philippines—WBA Super World bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire expressed his excitement over facing two-belt champion Naoya Inoue in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series.
Donaire, a future Hall of Fame member, said he is ecstatic to face Inoue who scored a second round knockout of Emmanuel Rodriguez in the semifinals of the tournament.
Inoue (18-0, 16 KOs) already held the WBA’s “regular” title and added the IBF strap and The Ring Magazine belt to his name when he knocked out Rodriguez.
“He came in here and did what he needed to do,” said Donaire after Inoue’s fight that streamed live on DAZN, h/t BoxingScene.com.
“This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, we both felt it was our destiny and this is what boxing is all about—the best fighting the best.”
Donaire (40-5, 26 KOs) won his last two fights, although those two came with asterisks.
His fight with Ryan Burnett, which also gained him the WBC Diamond bantamweight belt, ended in the fourth round after the latter suffered a slipped disc in his lower back and had to be carried out of the ring on a stretcher.
A unification bout with WBO champion Zolani Tete was next for Donaire but the South African pugilist withdrew from the semifinals just days before the April 27 fight in Lafayette after suffering a shoulder injury.
Stephon Young replaced Tete and was dutifully vanquished in a six-round master class.
Nevertheless, Donaire is intended on facing, and beating, the top bantamweights in the world.
Donaire also praised the 26-year-old Inoue who’s 10 years younger than him.
“He’s ‘The Monster,’” said Donaire referring to Inoue’s moniker. “He has great power, great intelligence, and figuring out how to beat him makes me feel like I’m 21 again—this is what excites me.”