Inoue and Donaire played one of the most exciting fights of 2019 when they first met three years ago, but the pound-for-pound didn’t go wrong when they met the second time.
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Naoya Inoue maintained her unified bantamweight titles, and her undefeated record, with a much more convincing second-round win over Nonito Donaire in Japan this afternoon.
The boxers met in exactly the same place; the Saitama Super Arena, back in 2019, featuring one of the fights of the year in the World Boxing Super Series final. And after Donaire managed to take the WBC belt, the pair were again leveled this afternoon in what was a very similar environment to the first bout.
Tens of thousands attended for the long-awaited rematch, which had a beloved home fighter in Inoue. The normally quiet self-assured unified champion, made his walk in bombastic fashion, with legendary Japanese guitarist Tomoyasu Hotei playing him in the ring.
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Donaire’s entry for his 22nd world championship fight was intense, though a little more understated, with both men swinging world championship belts similar to their first meeting.
The 10-year-old gap was a point of discussion before both attacks, and within just a round the younger Inoue dropped his 39-year-old rival with a wicked right hand. The pair felt each other as opposed to treating it as a “round 13”, but the pound-for-pound big chose to sit on their punch to the final seconds.
Before the second, Inoue took complete control of proceedings, and staggered Donaire after landing voluntarily early in the round, then taking down Donaire. The fight was canceled within just seconds of the round, with Inoue uniting yet another bantamweight belt.
“Two years and seven months ago I fought Nonito Donaire in the WBSS final here in the same place,” Inoue said after the fight. “You gave me the power, thank you.
“In the first round I got a left hook from Nonito and that punch made me wake up and stay focused during the fight. The last right straight, I didn’t know it was great but I saw the video and I. Knew this that will be that.
“I didn’t know the specific circle, but to be able to reach my status above I had to win this battle so I decided to end it at this point. This battle was magical for me too, I pressed myself. And I did it.”
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He thanked Donaire for his involvement in both of their competitions, especially praising his ability to claw his way back to another world championship after losing their first meeting. The 39-year-old may now be considering retirement, having already had a legendary career in the sport.
“Without Nonito I can’t do this,” Inoue continued. “Two years after the WBSS final he won the WBC belt and came back to fight me. That’s why I could be here and shine like that. Thank you Nonito, so much, for everything.”
He is now watching an un united within just a few battles.
“My dream is to be the undisputed champion,” he explained. “If I can do that by 2022, then I will stay in this division. If I can’t, I can go up and fight in a higher division. Thank you all for coming to the arena for the battle, thank you. for everything. “