Inside the Jab

Bantamweight king Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue.

Monster mashes the Flash

Think Thomas Hearns destroying Roberto Duran, think Donald Curry icing Milton McCrory, now witness Naoya Inoue dismantling Nonito Donaire.

All second round KO’s, all against fighters with a quality resume, all equal in their spine-chilling finality.

The ‘Monster’ nickname was no more apt than in the Saitama Arena, Japan lunchtime today (UK time). ‘Filipino Flash’ Donaire entered the ring with a record of 42-6 (28 KO’s), ‘world’ titles in four different weight classes and appearing in his 22nd world title fight. After a bright opening he left the ring bludgeoned and befuddled four and a half minutes later.

Pound-for-pound #3, as ranked by The Ring magazine, Inoue was fighting in his homeland again after his opponent had extended him twelve rounds in a toe-to-toe battle just under three years ago at the same venue. A contest that was awarded The Ring’s 2019 fight of the year. We expected something similar, but knew it would be very hard to equal.

What we got was an annihilation, and a stoppage so destructive that the argument now is the ‘Monster’ is #1. The pound-for-pound debate will rage on but we know, if we didn’t already, that Naoya Inoue is a generational talent and undoubtedly the best bantamweight in the world. His march to the Hall of Fame has started and who knows where it will take him ’til he resides there.

The Japanese is 29 years old and having moved through three weight classes already, is prepared to move up further, as he alluded to post-fight. But, let’s enjoy him first among the 118 pounders. In his native country he’s a national hero who transcends his sport, now his 67 inch reach is spreading across the continents. Twice on the cover of The Ring already and more to follow.

Inoue came to the ring to the soundtrack of Kill Bill, ably supported by a national celebrity soloing on a lead guitar in ring centre. The screech of the guitar as the main notes resonated almost signalled the onset of the carnage we were about to witness. Donaire followed to the ring with something melodic but more tranquil. A sign ?

After the anthems, pre-fight instructions and ding of the opening bell, the Filipino started quickly but both fighters knew the power each had in their arsenal so despite landing solid shots, were tense. The round was about to reach a cautious conclusion, then BOOM !

A powerful right hand counter detonated on the side of Donaire’s head. He hit the deck immediately, shocked, but still with enough energy and composure to lift himself to his feet. Canadian referee Michael Griffin continued the count, Nonito stood up, rocky, but on nine the bell for the end of the round sounded simultaneously. A 10-8 round in the Japanese’ favour.

The corner of the WBC champion frantically tried to get stability and semblance into Donaire’s legs. The second round bell rang and the Filipino tried to meet fire with fire. A mistake.

Within 1:24 mins of the round Donaire had been wobbled twice and as the Japanese loaded up and landed repeatedly he landed a vicious left hook to score the second knockdown. The referee waved the fight over immediately. The destruction was complete and a multi-weight champion had been systematically taken apart by a potentially great fighter and new star in the sport.

‘The Monster’ had indeed mashed his opponent inside four and half minutes. The Undisputed expected a Inoue victory, maybe spectacular, but not this early. Within seconds of the stoppage Inoue was a picture of composure, adourned with the multiple belts of the sanctioning bodies.

In his post fight interview the Japanese said he felt Donaire’s power “In the very first round I received the left hook from Nonito and that punch made me wake up…I just decided to finish the fight”. And finish it he did, in an emphatic history making performance.

Donaire, now 39 years old, dropped to 42-7 (28 KO’s) and having won multiple ‘world titles has his name in the Hall already, when he finally calls it a day. Always a devastating puncher and box office, he will be missed. But today was the performance of the year so far and the ‘Monster’ will do far more mashing over the next few years. Hold onto your seats, a star has arrived !

The event was co-promoted by Top Rank Inc and is immediately available on their YouTube site.

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