Naoya Inoue Explains Nonito Donaire KO to Win WBC Bantamweight Title, Stay Undefeated

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJune 7, 2022

Japan's Naoya Inoue (L) fights against Philippines' Nonito Donaire during their Bantamweight unification boxing match at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on June 7, 2022. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)
PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images

Naoya Inoue defeated Nonito Donaire by second-round technical knockout Tuesday in Saitama, Japan, to retain the WBA (Super), IBF and The Ring bantamweight titles, and win the WBC bantamweight title.

With the win, the 29-year-old Inoue improved his career record to 23-0 with 20 knockouts and moved one step closer to becoming boxing's undisputed bantamweight champion.

Per ESPN's Mike Coppinger, Inoue said the following after the fight through a translator: "In the very first round, I received a left hook from Nonito, and that punch made me wake up and stay focused. ... To be able to reach my status up at the top I need to win this fight so I just decided ... to finish this fight at this moment."

The win was Inoue's second over Donaire, as he previously beat him by unanimous decision in November 2019.

While the first Donaire fight was perhaps the biggest challenge of Inoue's career, he has been a dominant force since then, winning each of his past four bouts by knockout in the eighth round or earlier.

According to Coppinger, Inoue made it clear that holding all of the gold in the bantamweight division is his desire: "My goal is to be the undisputed champion. If I can do that within the year of 2022, I would love to stay in this division. But if I can't, I'm capable of raising my division [to 122 pounds]."

The only title left for Inoue to win is the WBO bantamweight title, which is held by 33-year-old Brit Paul Butler.

Butler, who owns a career record of 34-2, won the title in April with a unanimous-decision victory over Jonas Sultan.

Given that Butler fought recently, it's possible Inoue could be his next opponent in what would be the biggest potential fight in the bantamweight division.

Inoue would likely be a significant favorite in that fight, especially coming off such a dominant win over a decorated fighter in Donaire, who is now 42-7 in his career.

If Inoue moves up in weight instead of facing Butler, his top possible opponents would be Stephen Fulton and Murodjon Akhmadaliev, who are both undefeated titleholders in the super bantamweight division.

Inoue is establishing himself as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world regardless, and he is developing into a major draw as well, especially in his home country of Japan.