May 21, 2019
It’s official — Nonito Donaire would be facing Japanese knockout artist Naoya Inoue in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) final for bantamweight (118 pounds).
Inoue over the weekend disposed in just two rounds Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriquez (19-1 with 12 knockouts) in the last WBSS semifinal bout for the division. Prior to that, Donaire knocked out Stephon Young (18-203 with 7 KOs) in the other WBSS semifinal for bantamweight.
Inoue knocked down Rodriguez with a vicious left hook in the early going of the second round, and it was all downhill for the Puerto Rican who hit the canvass two more times.
Inoue improved his record to 18-0 with 16 KOs.
While I was impressed on how Inoue defeated Rodriguez, there was something obvious in the Puerto Rican — inexperience. Prior to fighting Inoue, Rodriquez only had 19 fights, with three of them at the championship level.
Inoue, on the other hand, has figured in 12 championship fights prior to facing Rodriguez and won titles in three weight divisions.
The Puerto Rican’s lack of ring savvy was evident, as he chose to stand in front of Inoue for most of the fight, which could be suicidal for anyone facing a one-punch knockout artist. Perhaps Rodriguez felt he could match Inoue’s punching power, which proved fatal.
So the question now is, how would Donaire (40-5 with 26 KOs) handle Inoue in their WBSS bantamweight final bout?
In my column published on May 30, 2019 titled “When the left hook lands,” I discussed how Donaire can beat Inoue, citing the Filipino’s size advantage, among others.
Inoue stands 5’4” and first fought at bantamweight in May 2018. On the other hand, Donaire is nearly 5’8” and is actually a featherweight (126 pounds) masquerading as a bantamweight. Donaire even looked like a full-blown featherweight in his fights against Young and Ryan Burnett, which should not be surprising given today’s weigh in rules.
Bigger fighters benefit more from today’s weigh-in rules, since the weigh in for fights takes place about 48 hours to two days before a bout. And during that time frame, the bigger fighter usually packs on more weight.
So when Inoue squares off against Donaire in the WBSS final fight for bantamweight, the Japanese may have to contend against a featherweight who has an eight- to 10-pound weight advantage over him. In the lower divisions, that weight advantage is already significant, giving the bigger fighter an edge in pushing, showing and clinching. And maybe, in punching power.
Then there’s Donaire’s edge in championship bouts and quality of opposition. The Filipino has fought in more than 20 title bouts and won world titles in five weight divisions.
However, two things are going for Inoue — punching power and youth.
The Japanese is 10 years younger than Donaire and nobody can deny his punching power.
Now, I is possible for Inoue to stop Donaire?
So far, the only boxer who has stopped Donaire was Nicholas Walters at featherweight. But in their fight in October 2014, Walters outweighed Donaire by 25 pounds, in effect making him a junior welterweight (154 pounds).
To Donaire’s credit, he fought gallantly for six rounds against Walters. On the other hand, Inoue’s chin may not have been tested yet.
Like the upcoming Manny Pacquiao-Keith Thurman fight on July 20, expect the bout between Donaire and Inoue to generate debates and discussions on who would win.
And with that, let us begin the debates and discussions on how would win between Donaire or Inoue.
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