By David Martinez / dmboxing.com
In a bout which is certainly a candidate for Fight of the Year, three-weight divisional and IBF champion Naoya Inoue (19-0 / 16 by KO) defeated four-weight divisional and WBA super champion Nonito Donaire (40-6 / 26 by KO) in a twelve round unanimous decision on Thursday, November 7, 2019.
The fight was action packed from start to finish with both fighters giving hard fought performances with a crowd of over 20,000 witnessing at the Super Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
The 26 year old Japanese fighter Inoue overcame major adversity with a cut over his right eye from a left hook in the second round and was rocked solid with a right hand in round nine by the 36 year old Filipino Donaire.
It was clear that Inoue was faster and the harder hitter, but the veteran Donaire was savvy, using an educated right hand, and was not intimidated making it a very competitive fight.
Although Inoue connected well in round five, Donaire survived; it was then that Donaire made it interesting with close scores in the middle rounds of the fight.
In the championship 11th and 12th rounds it was Inoue that made the defining statement. He dropped Donaire with a signature left hook to the body in round eleven; but moments later, Donaire came back to stun Inoue, only to see Inoue load up and continue with body punches to end what was to be a classic three minutes and a candidate for round of the year.
In round twelve Inoue left no doubt, convincingly winning the final round to seal the fight and the victory.
The judge’s scorecards were 117-109, 116-111, and 114-113 … my scorecard was eight rounds to four, 116-111 … for the winner Inoue.
This was a fight that showcased two excellent boxers, and simply was a fan’s fight. The two traded punches and hard combinations throughout as one would expect from the true champions that they are.
It was officially announced the day after the fight that Inoue signed a multiyear co-promotional deal with Top Rank. This contract includes future fights to be staged in the United States and to be carried by ESPN which will give him more exposure world-wide.