No mismatch to show in Saitama
Japan’s Naoya Inoue, the Monster, readily swore he needs to get stronger.
This was immediately after he scored an excruciating unanimous decision victory over battle-tested Filipino warrior Nonito Donaire Jr. in Saitama, Japan, on Thursday evening.
Inoue had been installed a 10-1 favorite by several bookmakers, while majority of experts predicted a stoppage inside six rounds.
A full-house crowd came to the capacity 20,000 Saitama Super Arena expecting a spectacular conquest by Inoue. The fight, a compelling contest of skill, power and strategy for the world super bantamweight championship, was listed a strong candidate for fight of the year.
Inoue, 26, figured in his toughest fight, his string of knockout wins cut at eight. He now has a record of 19 wins and 16 KOs.
It was a tense and exciting ring war, with the highly favored Japanese suffering a cut over the eye in the second round. The 36-year-old Donaire gave it his all and succeeded in pushing Inoue to the limit.
Inoue was rocked in the 10th, but connected with a well-placed dagger punch to the body that sent Donaire reeling in pain and sinking on a knee in the 11th. That could well be the deciding punch of the memorable bout.
Inoue called Donaire a true champion.
“Powerful veteran Nonito Donaire rocked Inoue and blooded the Japanese star and made him work harder than he had done in any of his first 18 fights,” said Keith Idec of Boxing.Scene.
Dan Rafael of ESPN.com said Donaire figured in one of his best performances in years despite the defeat.
It was a glowing performance by Donaire who proudly upheld Filipino pride in world boxing, following the shameful fall of ranked Romero Duno in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Inoue had hoped to gallop straight to greatness with an expected stoppage of Donaire. The 26-year-old Japanese has vowed to work harder to achieve his dream of becoming the best.
Donaire has visibly firmed up his future enrollment in the Boxing Hall of Fame with his amazing stand against the highly rated Inoue, who took home the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Inoue has been signed up by Top Rank to a multi-fight promotional deal.
“There was Rumble in the Jungle, the Thrilla in Manila and now the Drama in Saitama,” swooned a top WBSS executive.
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