Boxing reacts to arrival of a new monster
Naoya Inoue - boxing's best-kept secret for several years - finally had his coming out party in a spectacular fight against former world champion Nonito Donaire in Japan overnight.
Known as the Monster, Inoue has been climbing pound-for-pound lists without much hype, largely because he's fought predominantly in Japan in a 118-pound division that doesn't often move the needle.
But his 12-round war against the Filipino Flash was just what the doctor ordered.
After knocking out 16 of his first 18 opponents, the undefeated Inoue showed he has the heart to match his fearsome power as a battled on after Donaire opened a cut above his right eye with a left hook in the second round.
Inoue, the IBF world bantamweight champion, sent Donaire to the canvas in the 11th round at Saitama Super Arena with a body blow to the abdomen before securing a unanimous decision win.
The three judges scored the bout 116-111, 117-109, 114-113 in favour of Inoue, who improved to 19-0. Donaire dropped to 40-6 but showed he's a Hall of Famer by battling to the final bell.
"Donaire was a very strong opponent," Inoue said. "This is the first cut I have had in my career. I had double vision since the second round but I am victorious and so proud of myself."
Superstardom now awaits the 26-year-old from Kanagawa, who is immediately signed by promotional heavyweight Top Rank in the wake of the performance.
Currently ranked fourth in Ring Magazine's pound-for-pound ratings, Inoue will be put on the world map in 2020 as part of Top Rank's plans for him to fight twice in the US before another home bout in Japan later in the year.
Both men received plaudits after a bout that's a Fight of the Year candidate.
How did Donaire get up from this body shot?! 🤯— GiveMeSport Boxing (@GMSBoxing) November 7, 2019
A warrior and a boxing legend! 👏
- with AP
Much respect to my friend and brother Nonito Donaire. He’s had a great career and put up a good fight, but came up short. Naoya Inoue the “Monster” is a problem for anybody at 118lbs and maybe 122lbs as well. Congrats !— Andre S.O.G. Ward (@andreward) November 7, 2019
What a fight! Inoue v Donaire, both guys putting it all on the line, Donaire had his moments, but had to use all his experience to get through the Final couple of rounds, Inoue is fast emerging as one of the best P4P fighters in the world #WBSS— Spencer Oliver (@SpencerOliver) November 7, 2019
I dont care about the result, this is one of Nonito Donaire's finest moments as a fighter. It was further proof of his Hall of Fame-ness. My admiration for him as never been greater. For Inoue, this is exactly what he needed- a dose of reality and a stern test... #boxing— Steve Kim (@StevESPNKim) November 7, 2019