Naoya Inoue takes on Nonito Donaire on June 7 in Saitama, Japan
By Dan Ambrose: IBF/WBA bantamweight champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue (22-0, 19 KOs) will face WBC champion Nonito Donaire (42-6, 28 KOs) in a three-belt unification contest on June 7 at Saitama. Super Arena in Japan.
This is the long-awaited rematch between the famously undefeated 28-year-old “Monster” Inoue and 39-year-old Donaire from their 2019 fight, which was won by the Japanese star by unanimous decision in 12 rounds.
Donaire wanted a rematch all this time against Inoue, and he finally got his wish. Considering how brutal the fight was for Inoue in terms of the punishment he took the last time he fought Donaire, it’s no surprise that it took this long for the rematch to happen.
The Inoue vs. Donaire 2 rematch will take place at the same venue as their fight on November 9, 2019, at the Super Arena in Saitama, a battle in which both guys were injured.
Donaire was let go by a hard shot in the midsection in the eleventh round. He showed tenacity by getting up and moving around the ring to stop Inoue from finishing him off. Inoue’s victory earned him the World Boxing Super Series trophy.
The scores were 116-111, 114-113 and 117-109, but the final score did not match the fight inside the ring. It was closer than that.
In round two, Inoue suffered a cut to his left eye after Donaire caught him with a hard left hook. Later in the fight, Donaire staggered Inoue with a straight right hand to the head that briefly turned his legs to jelly.
After being injured, Inoue did a great job dodging Inoue’s huge left hooks which would have probably knocked him out had they lost.
Inoue suffered a hairline and fractured eye socket early in the fight and looked beaten by the end.
“Although I suffered an orbital fracture in the second round, I tried to stay smart. I won by decision. It was such a big test for me,” said ‘Monster’ Inoue.
Donaire did a great job coming back from the loss to Inoue, defeating WBC bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali by fourth-round knockout on May 29, 2021, then successfully defending the belt by stopping challenger Reymart Gaballo in the 4th round. December 11.
Last year, Donaire was scheduled to face 118-pound WBO champion John Riel Casimero in a unification bout on August 14, but he pulled out of the fight on VADA testing.
Since winning over Donaire in 2019, Inoue has stopped Jason Moloney, Michael Dasmarinas and Aran Dipaen. The fight against Dipaen didn’t make much sense, considering the Thai fighter was an obscure contender who had never beaten anyone of note to assess a world title against Inoue.
Given how little opposition Inoue has faced in his last three fights, it’s unclear how well he’ll fare under fire from Donaire, who has the power to knock him out.
If Inoue hadn’t done such a good job of dodging Donaire’s blows the last time they fought, chances are he got knocked out. In the rematch, Inoue will need to dodge those same shots from Donsire if he is to claim victory.
Despite Donaire’s advanced age of 39, he still fights at an incredibly high level, thanks to the overwhelming power and hand speed he’s been blessed with.
Donaire lost some speed as he got older, but he had so much to start with that he’s still more than fast enough to outrun the opposition in the 118-pound division.
The Inoue vs. Donaire rematch on June 7 could come down to which of the two knockout artists will land first. If Donaire injures Inoue, the Japanese fighter might not be as lucky to dodge his power punches as he did last time out.
Likewise, Donaire might not be able to overcome a body shot like he did in the 11th round against Inoue.