Naoya Inoue blitzes Nonito Donaire with emphatic early knockout to win bantamweight unification clash

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Devastating: Naoya Inoue provided an emphatic early knockout of Nonito Donaire in Japan  (AFP via Getty Images)
Devastating: Naoya Inoue provided an emphatic early knockout of Nonito Donaire in Japan (AFP via Getty Images)

Naoya Inoue produced a devastating early knockout of Nonito Donaire to triumph in Tuesday’s bantamweight unification bout in Japan.

In an eagerly-anticipated rematch of an instant classic and consensus ‘Fight of the Year’ winner from November 2019, the pound-for-pound powerhouse sent his opponent sprawling to the canvas with a vicious and well-disguised right hand to the temple at the end of round one.

Donaire, a legendary four-weight world champion who turns 40 in November, simply could not recover from that early blow and received more brutal punishment in the second, with Inoue raining down heavy shots in a spiteful, non-stop onslaught before producing another emphatic knockdown with a close-range combination that ended the contest.

Inoue successfully defended his WBA, IBF and The Ring titles while also taking the WBC gold from boxing’s oldest-ever bantamweight champion Donaire, meaning that now only Briton Paul Butler’s WBO belt stands between ‘The Monster’ and undisputed world champion status at 118lbs.

It was in stark contrast to that unforgettable first fight, when Inoue, now 23-0 with 20 knockouts to his name, 18-0 in world title fights, was bloodied early on and suffered a broken nose and eye socket in the World Boxing Super Series final.

However, on that occasion, he fought back to drop Donaire in the penultimate round before winning on points and becoming unified bantamweight champion.

It was a family affair for Inoue at the Saitama Super Arena on Tuesday, with younger brother Takuma opening the show with an entertaining and gruelling decision win over Gakuya Furuhashi to retain his WBO Asia Pacific super-bantamweight title and win the Japanese national belt.

There was also a statement sixth-round stoppage from Andy Hiraoka, who defended the Japanese super-lightweight strap against Shun Akaiwa.

More to follow

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