Naoya Inoue scores unanimous decision over Nonito Donaire for bantamweight crown
Young, powerful Naoya Inoue cut down Nonito Donaire like a masterful craftsman, scoring a thrilling unanimous decision late Thursday to capture the bantamweight championship of the World Boxing Super Series.
It was an impressive victory for Inoue who scored the biggest victory of his career beating a top caliber fighter as Donaire before a sellout crowd of 20,000 at Saitama Super Arena in Japan.
“I’m proud of myself, I won the Ali Trophy, but I’m not yet the all-time best. I will work hard on it,” said Inoue through an interpreter after the fight. “I see a true bright future for myself.”
Inoue dropped Donaire with this body shot in Round 1️⃣1️⃣, but Donaire picked himself up.
The heart of a WARRIOR for the Filipino Flash ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/U9lolqvAO6
— DAZN USA (@DAZN_USA) November 7, 2019
Inoue came out blasting with his dynamite fists but only managed to floor Donaire in the 11th when he rocked a left to the body that resonated only after a few moments.
Absorbing the punch belatedly, Donaire turned away and kneel. He has only been knocked out just once in his career.
But the four-division champ, fuelled by pride, summoned the strength to stand up and beat the count.
“I admire Donaire, he is a true champion, very strong,” Inoue would later say.
Inoue tried to finish off the older Donaire by throwing powerful punches early on but paid for it as the Filipino opened a gaping wound on his right eyebrow with a stinging left in the second round.
But the 26-year-old, dubbed as the monster, was quick enough to shift tactic, slowing down to the pace Donaire preferred, and battling on head to head.
Luigi Boscarelli saw it 116-111, Robert Hoyle 114-113, and Octovio Rodriguez 117-109. All in favor of Inoue who improved to 19 wins, 16 by knockouts.
— World Boxing Super Series (@WBSuperSeries) November 7, 2019
But the scores could hardly tell the drama inside the ring as both fighters took turns in displaying moments of power and weakness.
Donaire got the fight up until the third round when Inoue raised his right hand to protect his wound cut, allowing the Filipino to dictate the terms of the fight.
Right there and then, the 36-year-old Donaire, out to put an extension to his sterling career, managed to plant seeds of doubt on the mind of Inoue who has won 16 of his 18 previous fight via knockout.
However, Inoue drew strength from his younger knees, throwing heavy blows and jarring Donaire late in the fifth, making him buckle with crisp right to the face.
Yet by the 10th Inoue kept getting stronger and bolder, catching Donaire on the switch several times before shifting to the right side. He rocked Donaire with a combination before the bell rang.