Fighter of the Week: Naoya Inoue

On a uniquely interesting weekend of boxing, that saw a celebrity grudge match, a hot shot prospect win via strange disqualification, a current champion primed for a Canelo showdown pushed to the limit by an unknown and a US Marine making his inaugural title defense on Veterans Day weekend. Also gave us an unforgettable bout in the smaller weight classes. The weeks best scrap came in its first major card. Naoya Inoue put forth a courageous effort in a fight of the year candidate in what was the biggest test of his young and spectacular career. Taking a 12 round UD victory over a game Nonito Donaire to capture the Ali Trophy as the winner of the WBSS 118-Pound tournament our fighter of the week award as well unified the divisions WBA and IBF belts. Donaire came up big down the stretch to secure the hard fought victory and did his best to make his claim as the pound for pound best in the sport.

Image result for Naoya Inoue

The finals of the WBSS Bantamweight tournament was held at the Super Arena, in Saitama, Japan, the backyard of IBF champ Naoya Inoue, who had added pressure on him to deliver a victory after the Japanese fans had to watch younger brother Takuma Inoue drop a lopsided decision in the co main event. Big brother delivered in a big way and so did the aging future hall of famer Nonito Doanire. The fight started quickly with the hometown hero connecting with sharp combination and thudding right hands. Inoue continued to mix up his attack in round two and his left hook found Donaire’s chin and shook the Filipino Flash who valiantly fought back. Picking up the pace in round three Donaire pushed forward. Walking Inoue backwards and establishing he was the bigger and stronger man in the ring Doanire tagged Inoue with a patented left hook that busted his nose open. Through a fairly even and highly competitive opening four rounds, Inoue staggered Donaire with a left hook and then a right handing the fifth. Then nearly dropped him with another hook. Again, the 36-year-old Donaire battled back and had Inoue in a world of trouble in the ninth round, rocking a bloody Inoue with a powerful right hand that left him shell-shocked as the 36-year-old poured on the shots. With Donaire fighting his way back into the fight Inoue let it fly in the 11th dropping the courageous Donaire who took a knee as a result of a vicious body shot and barely beat the count. Inoue jumped on his wounded opponent like a dog on fear, going for the stoppage. However, it was Donaire who landed a big left hook that stopped Inoue in his tracks and allowed him to survive the round. The knockdown was more than enough to secure the victory. After a fast paced final stanza it was Inoue who was awarded the unanimous decision by scores of 116-111, 117-109, and 114-113.

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Immediately following the fight Top Rank announced, what was heavily rumored, that they had signed the now unified bantamweight champ to a multi-fight deal. Initially many that the rumors of Inoue going to Top Rank was going to deliver fight fans an Inoue vs Ryan Burnett showdown. Unfortunately, Burnett announced that he was retiring due to injuries. However, signing with Top Rank still leaves plenty of attractive options for “The Monster”, options that include a scrap with American mega prospect Joshua Greer Jr or unification scraps with either Zolani Tete or he can try to exact revenge on WBC Bantamweight title holder Nordine Oubaali who successfully defended his crown against The Monster’s younger brother Takuma Inoue on the under card of the Inoue-Donaire fight.

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