Naoya Inoue Stops Nonito Donaire to unify Bantamweight World Titles

Inoue Donaire

‘Monster’ Inoue delivers a huge second-round knockout of veteran Nonito Donaire to unify three belts in the division

Pound for pound peroxide puncher makes a big statement in the rematch with former champ

Naoya Inoue from Japan made it 20 knockouts in 23 contests in different weight divisions as he wiped out veteran multiple weight Filipino champion Nonito Donaire in their rematch with a brutal second-round stoppage in front of his own fans in the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

Living up to his nickname of ‘The Monster’ and showcasing all the skills of speed, movement, and devastating punch power he possesses, Inoue landed a big right hand at the end of round one that Donaire reacted to in slow motion before dropping heavily to the canvas. The former champion beat the count, just, but he was badly shaken.

Round two saw a very wary Donaire emerge on legs that had the strength zapped out of them and, smelling blood, Inoue put together a barrage of punches culminating in a whipped-in left hook that left the Filipino in a crumpled heap.

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Referee Michael Griffin waved off the contest after 1.24 seconds of round two, with the Japanese fighter already dancing on the top ropes to celebrate his victory.

Afterward, Donaire paid his respects to Inoue and the referee.“I would probably say that was the hardest punch I’ve been hit with. I came out completely blank. … It was fortunate the referee stopped the fight, because I would have kept going. The punch you don’t see is the one that really hurts. That’s what got me. I didn’t see that punch coming at all. But it is what it is, man. I’m very grateful that I’m healthy.”

This chilling, clinically destructive performance from the Monster Naoya Inoue advances his reputation as one of the best and most fearsome, some say the finest, pound-for-pound champions in boxing today.

Unlike their first contest, where they shared twelve rounds of pulsating action before Inoue emerged the victor by way of unanimous decision, and gained the Fight of the Year 2019 accolade in the process, this was an altogether different occasion. Three years on from that first encounter, both fighters seemed to be making up for lost time as the opening exchanges immediately felt like championship rounds with big shots fired off from both sides, including the Donaire trademark looping left hook catching the home fighter early on.

Inoue, though, fighting off the back foot and trading on the counter, always looked in control, getting the measure of his man, finding his rhythm and range. And just on the bell to round one, the Monster found the punch that signaled the end. There was simply no way that this one would go the distance, and so it proved with Inoue producing a devastating left hook to end the fight less than six minutes into the contest.

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At 39 years old, this defeat and the manner of it could signal the end of Nonito Donaire’s illustrious career. And if he was to bow out of the sport that he has graced with such skill and authority, the Filipino Flash, winner of nine world titles in different weight classes will do so with no shame in having lost to such a ruthless, destructive champion in Naoya Inoue.

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For the 29-year-old Japanese champion, there remains much ambition. He has cemented his grip on the WBA IBF and Ring titles and took Nonaire’s WBC bantamweight title with this stoppage. He is now looking for undisputed status. The target: Britain’s Paul Butler and the promise of a bumper unification fight at 118 Ibs.

Inoue said: “My aim is to be the undisputed champion. If I can do that within the year of 2022, I would love to stay in this division.”

Who would bet against this exceptional fighter from Japan taking all four straps in the Bantamweight division and establishing his own legendary status?

What’s that coming over the hill, Paul Butler? Is it a Monster?

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