In a spirited 12-round battle for the World Boxing Super Series Bantamweight Championship Thursday night in Japan, home country favorite Naoya “The Monster” Inoue captured the unified 118-pound title with a unanimous decision over Nonito Donaire.
The younger Inoue controlled the action for most of the fight and certainly, poured it on in the final rounds to capture an easy victory.
— World Boxing Super Series (@WBSuperSeries) November 7, 2019
Inoue, now 19 – 0 16 Kos, landed solid lead right hands early on in the first round which backed up the veteran Donaire. However, Donaire (now, 40-6) actually rocked Inoue with a left hook in the second round that had the crowd at the Saitama Sports arena in Japan stunned, as the veteran made it clear that he came to fight.
However, Inoue got control of the fight back in the middle rounds.
In the fifth round, Inoue landed several more big punches backing up the former multi-division world champion and had Donaire staggered near his own corner, when the bell saved him for that round.
However, Donaire rallied opening up a nasty gash over Inoue’s his right eye in the eighth round and also causing him to bleed from the nose. Donaire then, scored a big left and another right in the ninth and staggered Inoue for the first time, since early in the fight.
With the decision hanging in the balance, Inoue stomped on the gas with the home fans cheering him on. He won the 10th round, again effectively scoring with the jab and the straight right hand, as it looked as though Donaire was wearing out.
Finally in the 11th round, came the first and only knockdown of the fight, as Inoue landed a couple of big punches and eventually, scored with a left to the liver that staggered Donaire. Donaire trotted a couple of steps around the ring and then went down on one knee to take the count.
Donaire got up at the count of 9, but was clearly weary and Inoue battered him with several more punches and was on the verge of maybe scoring a TKO.
Donaire survived the round, but had nothing left in the tank in the 12th to try to score a desperate knockout. Inoue landed several more significant punches but Donaire survived until the final bell.
The judges scorecards were wide-ranging, as one had it 117 – 109, but another scored it only 114 – 113, meaning that the 10-8 round in the 11th for Inoue kept the fight from being a draw on his card.
The third judge gave Inoue his card at 116 – 111 for the unanimous decision.
Inoue wins the World Boxing Super Series tournament that began with eight fighters a year-and-a-half ago. He had previously won his semifinal fight by second round KO over Emmanuel Rodriguez in Scotland in May. Donaire, who may be close to retirement now, had won the WBA belt in the quarterfinals a year ago and then successfully defended it in April over Stephon Young by 6th round KO in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Inoue said in the ring after the fight that he was suffering from double-vision from the second round on after being hurt by Donaire. And, he stated the obvious, that it was the toughest fight he had ever been in in his career.
In addition to the prestige of the Muhammad Ali Trophy, Inoue also collects over a $1 million purse bonus for having captured the WBSS championship. And, Inoue now owns the IBF and WBA bantamweight titles