The first fight was recognised as a modern day classic and now it looks as though bantamweights Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire are going to do it again. As per a tweet that was put out by boxing writer Manouk Akopyan, the two champions have started negotiations for an April rematch, with Donaire’s Probellum promoter Richard Schaefer informing Akopyan of the news. And this is indeed exciting news.
In November of 2019, Inoue was pushed hard by Donaire, the two men battling it out over 12 thrilling rounds, the fight going on to win The Fight of the Year accolade in a number of places. Since then, “The Monster” has gone 3-0 with 3 KO’s and he has easily retained his WBA and IBF belts in fights against guys we all pretty much knew he would beat going in, in Jason Moloney, Michael Dasmarinas and, last time out, in a match-up that was heavily criticised, Aran Dipaen. 28 year old Inoue is currently perfect at 22-0(19).
Since dropping the decision to Inoue, Donaire has gone 2-0(2) and the amazing 39 year old revived his career and showed no signs of age or of wear and tear in beating Nordine Oubaali to take the WBC title, and then in defeating another undefeated fighter in Reymart Gaballo to defend the title. Donaire had us all marvelling over his speed, power and conditioning. But how much can Donaire, 42-6(28) have left at almost 40 years of age? We will likely find out in the Inoue return.
Going into the first fight, some good judges felt Inoue, with his withering punching power, would become the second man to KO “The Filipino Flash” (with only featherweight Nicholas Walters previously having managed the feat, this way back in 2014). But no, Donaire hung tough, he survived a nasty body shot knockdown late in the fight and he busted up Inoue’s eye and tested him like no other fighter ever has.
But will the rematch be a different story? How much longer can Donaire, an absolute dead-cert future Hall of Famer, continue to defy Father Time? Might Inoue get the stoppage win this time? Or might Donaire dig in and give us one more special, special performance? In terms of the most fascinating rematch that can happen here in 2022, this one may well top the list. How can Inoue-Donaire II not be a great fight?