Worth the wait! Donaire vs Inoue 2 set for June 7 in Japan
Japanese 'Monster' Naoya Inoue (22-0, 19KOs) and the Filipino legend Nonito Donaire (42-6, 28KOs) will fight each other again 31 months after their first classic, in Japan on June 7.
In that last epic battle, in the WBSS Final in the Super Arena in Saitama in 2019, many thought that ageing Nonito would have little chance because up to that point Naoya had lived up to his nickname of the 'Monster' with 15 knockouts from 18 victories.
Billed as 'Fire and Drama in Saitama' the reality was that the ‘Filipino Flash’ showed immense qualities, skills and resolve to get up from the canvas and fight back to make it a grandstand finish to an all-time classic, proving the Filipino legend has plenty more left to offer.
Since then, 29-year-old Naoya had to wait just over 11 months to return to the ring, as he suffered a fractured right eye socket during the 12 intense rounds. He has continued his reign of terror to achieve three knockout victories in a row, against Aussie Jason Moloney, who was felled in seven; then Michael Dasmarinas in three; concluding with Thai Aran Dipaen in eight rounds.
Nonito has also been formidable since that last loss to Inoue. He comes from scoring important victories and against much better opposition than Naoya. Though he didn’t fight at all in 2020, he came back in a big way in 2021 to dethrone undefeated Frenchman Nordine Oubaali as WBC bantamweight champion; then in his first defense, he defeated compatriot Reymart Gaballo, also unbeaten, without problems. He beat those two, with a combined record of 41-0, in the fourth rounds.
It will be next June 7 at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan when both warriors will have their long-awaited rematch. For this second date, Nonito will arrive with a record of 42-6 and 28 knockouts, while Naoya will do so with a record of 22-0 and 19 knockouts.