As the son of a movie buff, this observer grew up with a father who instilled many lessons on his son. Two lessons with regard to movies that I have cone to appreciate as I have gotten older amongst many memories of my father that I think of often were very seldom does a sequel live up to an original, and there is nothing like a good monster movie.
The first time world champions Nayoa Inoue and Bonito Donaire met in 2019, it was a thrilling back and forth battle, which was hailed as one of the best fights in recent memory and that year's Fight of The Year. As thrilling as that fight was with Donaire putting forth a determined effort in being the first fighter to significantly test a fighter known simply as “The Monster,” it was Inoue who emerged from that battle still undefeated.
Fast forward two and a half years later and both men were once again world champions in the 118lb. Bantamweight division and each remained regarded as the best fighters in the division. Despite the issue of an ongoing global epidemic of COVID-19 that emerged shortly after the first fight, sometimes you just have a feeling when two fighters produce an all-time classic as Inoue and Donaire did that there would inevitably be a continuation to the story between two great fighters.
As someone who has spent most of his life writing about and covering Boxing and by extension combat sports, such a feeling hit me shortly after that fight. The anticipation of the rematch only grew when Donaire regained a portion of the World Bantamweight championship May of last year creating the possibility of not only a second encounter between the two, but also a unique distinction of a rematch being a unification bout as the first encounter was in the same weight class. A distinction that yours truly does not believe has been done before in the history of Boxing.
While such a distinction is also a reflection, whether it be positively or negatively depending on one’s perspective of the politics that be in the sport, it did nevertheless add to the anticipation of what would be one of the most eagerly awaited rematches in recent memory. A rematch that would take place on June 7th at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan. The site of the first meeting between Inoue and Donaire in November 2019.
In previewing this second encounter, I stated that the key in my eyes would be whether or not Donaire would be able to dictate the tempo of the combat. While I also felt that this could be easier said than done, I felt that Donaire needed to implement a tactical approach this time around and not be baited into a toe to toe war as was the case in the first fight.
Although it is difficult to say what Donaire intended to do from a strategic standpoint, he began the rematch by coming forward and landing a left hook to the head of Inoue. The reason why yours truly suggests that it is difficult to say what Donaire intended to do is because frankly, he was not given time to try and implement any kind of strategy.
It was not long before the two fighters were exchanging heavy punches in a similar fashion as they did in the first fight. Inoue would drop Donaire in the closing seconds of round one with a right hand to the head. Donaire was able to get up, but clearly benefited from there only being seconds remaining in the round.
A clearly hurt Donaire seemingly decided to try and goe toe to toe with Inoue from this point in the fight. A decision that would prove to be costly. Inoue quickly staggered Donaire with a left hook to the head that nearly sent him down. Despite Donaire ‘s ability to somehow stand up to that punch, a follow up barrage from Inoue highlighted by a crushing left hook to the head sent Donaire to the canvas for a second and final time. The fight was over.
Although it can at times be cliché to say, it was a statement making performance by Nayoa Inoue in such a way as it should remove any doubt as to questions regarding the first fight in that, that encounter was reasonably close and competitive. In simple terms Nayoa Inoue lived up to his “Monster” moniker by destroying his opponent in such a way that it should not only cement his status as the top fighter in the 118lb. Bantamweight division, but also serve notice to any would be challengers including current WBO world champion Paul Butler. As the holder of the WBA, IBF, and now WBC crowns at Bantamweight, with the WBA and WBC titles being won from Donaire in separate fights, Nayoa Inoue is clearly in the driver’s seat and anyone looking to make strides in the division will have to try and go through him.
As for the thirty-nine year old future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire, while this is a defeat that will take time to digest and come back from, he has always represented Boxing with class and dignity as one of the sport’s great ambassadors. Although some might be tempted to say it might be time for him to hang up his gloves after world championships in five different weight classes and forty-nine professional fights, if there is a silver lining to this loss for Donaire, it is though the loss and knockout was brutal, it did not come as a result of a scenario in which he sustained a prolonged beating over the course of a long and grueling fight. Donaire does still have his health and despite the loss, he may not be done as a fighter. To add to that silver lining in closing, at least it will be Donaire who will be able to decide what he wants to do next.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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