Last Thursday it was Halloween and we had all the zombies, ghouls and witches’ out trick & treating their way through our streets, this Thursday night in Saitama, Japan, it’s the return of the ‘Monster’.
Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16KOs) takes on Nonito Donaire (45-5, 26KOs) in the final of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) at Bantamweight. The Japanese sensation will defend his IBF title against the WBA ‘Super’ champion Donaire in an exciting unification bout.
At the tender age of just 26, Inoue is already a 3-weight world champion holding legitimate titles at light-fly, super-fly and bantam. Following the first-round destruction of Jamie McDonnell last year, Inoue breezed past Juan Carlos Payano with a beautifully timed straight right hand that knocked his Dominican Republic opponent flat on his back in the first round.
That victory set-up a mouth-watering WBSS semi-final against the then highly ranked #3 Emmanuel Rodriguez in Glasgow, Scotland. The Puerto Rican was supposed to ask questions of Inoue but once again he showcased his beast mode by knocking down Rodriguez 3-times in the second-round to progress to the final.
For those that have followed boxing for the last 2 decades will be familiar with the Filipino in the opposite corner. A 5-weight world champion at fly, super-fly, bantam, super-bantam and the featherweight divisions, Nonito Donarie.
Considering that ‘The Filipino Flash’ fought at 126lbs against Carl Frampton in April last year, it’s quite incredible that at the age of 36, (soon to be 37 next week) can manage to boil down the 118lb limit.
Former WBA ‘Super’ champion Ryan Burnett was in the way of a semi-final spot. With the fight delicately poised Burnett suffered an unfortunate back injury – that has since ended the Irishman’s career – meaning the veteran progressed through to the semis.
Initially set to face Zolani Tete in the next round but the WBO champion had to withdraw due to an injury he sustained in training so Stephon Young stepped in as a replacement. Donaire proved to strong and picked up his first stoppage win at bantam since Fernando Montiel back in 2011.
Donaire needs the stars to align for a shock upset…
Nonito has been fortunate en route to the final but he has a wealth of experience and his signature left hook will still carry some pop plus he has never lost at the 118lb limit. In 45 fights he has accumulated 277 rounds and only been stopped once at the hands of another knockout artist in Nicholas Walters back in 2014.
The US-based Filipino has a slight height and reach advantage that could prove pivotal when trying to keep his distance from the dangerous punching power of Inoue. There is great respect between both fighters so Donaire will have to hope that his Japanese opponent gives him too much respect. Either Donaire’s luck will run out or a Muhammed Ali trophy victory has been written in the stars.
The Monsters power is scary…
The current IBF king is a force to be reckoned with and has that natural power that has obliterated his WBSS opponents in just 329 seconds. There was no luck involved in his devastating victories over a seasoned pro in Payano and in a classy operator like Rodriguez. In 18 bouts he has only fought 95 rounds, an average of just over 5-rounds a fight.
There is a swagger to his style and an ore of invincibility that comes from that unbelievable power he has managed to take through the divisions. He never rushes his work, is very calm and collective and will seize upon any openings that Donaire gives him.
If this fight took place in 2011 it would be a lot closer but even, then I still think the home fighter would stop the Filipino legend. This fight could be over quicker than the introductions or it may well surprise us all and go the distance.
Every boxing nut will be tuned into their phone’s tomorrow afternoon expecting the little Japanese superstar to produced yet another knockout victory. It’s difficult to see beyond that but I do believe that Donaire can make it competitive for as long as it lasts. I can see Inoue closing the show and becoming a unified bantamweight champion between rounds 4 & 6.
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