Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs) made it look easy by crushing WBC bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire (42-7, 28 KOs) in a second-round knockout on Tuesday night in their unification clash on ESPN+ at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Inoue, 29, came into the contest as the IBF/WBA bantamweight champion and dropped the 39-year-old Donaire in round one. In the second, Inoue finished off Donaire with huge shots. The fight was halted at 1:24 of the round.
Unbeaten light-welterweight Andy Hiraoka (20-0, 15 KOs) destroyed a hapless Shun Akaiwa (7-4-1, 5 KOs) by a sixth-round knockout.
Super bantamweight prospect Takuma Inoue (16-1, 3 KOs) beat Gakuya Furuhashi (28-9-2, 16 KOs) by a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision. The judge’s scores were 119-109, 120-108, and 120-108.
Naoya Inoue is going to need to stay in one piece in this fight for him to have a shot at winning because Donaire was breaking his face apart piece by piece last time they fought. What Donaire showed is Inoue’s facial bones weren’t designed to be nailed by a fighter with his kind of strength.
Donaire has looked like a completely different fighter since his loss to Inoue three years ago. That defeat instilled confidence in Nonito, making him realize that he’s a killer at 118, and capable of beating Inoue if he can land more of his shots than last time.
WBC bantamweight champion Donaire (42-6, 28 KOs) lost to IBF/WBA champion Inoue (22-0, 19 KOs) in their fight in 2019 after getting off to a bad start, but he hurt him in the later rounds of the fight.
At the end of the contest, Inoue looked like the loser, with a broken nose, fractured left orbital bone, and cut right eye.
Nothing has changed since the two met. If anything, Donaire is even more powerful, destroying Nordine Oubaali and Reymart Gaballo in a pair of fourth-round knockouts.
Donaire took Inoue’s best shots and kept coming, inflicting punishment on the Japanese star. Although Inoue had the crowd on his side at the Saitama Super Arena in 2019, it didn’t stop Donaire from going after him nonstop, unloading with powerful left hooks and right hands that rearranged the Japanese star’s face.
The undercard for the Inoue-Donaire rematch leaves a lot to be desired, and it’s obvious that the money for this promotion is going to the headliner fighters. There’s literally nothing to see on the undercard unless a big fan of Inoue’s brother Takuma.
The undercard is so incredibly bad that it’s the type where you just tune out, change the channels or sit by the coffee machine drinking one cup after another waiting for the main event.
Nonito Donaire will be looking to take out the unbeaten pound-for-pound star Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue to bring him down to earth in their rematch on Tuesday night June 7th live on ESPN+. Three of the four bantamweight titles will be fought over in this fight.
The start time for the event is 5:30 a.m. ET, which means it won’t be seen live by many Americans.