Allan Cerf breaks down one intriguing match-up
Particulars: November 7, 2019 From the Super Arena in Saitama Japan (DAZN) its Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue vs. Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire for the WBA and IBF Belts and WBSS honors. Note: This fight is on a Thursday in the USA and takes place at 2 A.M. PDT. I’d try and stay awake to catch it live.
Background: What a year of boxing we’ve had – and if we count late 2018, the picture is even brighter! This is a tremendous fight which – whether it goes long or short – should be hugely entertaining.
Nonito Donaire, who formerly resided in San Leandro, not far from my former home of many years, El Cerrito, certainly fights as you’d like your homeboy to – courageous, accomplished, athletic, big-time pop. Yes, he’s lost five times which counts against him - especially when it mattered most, versus Cuban genius boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux, himself seen as invincible until a better genius, Ukraine’s Lomachenko, forced the Cuban to quit on his stool. However, Donaire has also won forty times and been a world champion in four weight classes. He’s formidably talented and seems refreshed at Bantamweight and looking better than he has in years.
Naoya Inoue really is a monster and one of the hardest punchers in the world. From sparring reports, his opponents and the evidence of our eyes, the Yokohama man somehow hits like a middleweight. The disadvantages he faces are Donaire’s talent, height advantage, and the pressure upon him to look sensational and win by crushing KO. Donaire conversely, faces no apparent pressure. He’s supposed to lose. Inoue must be careful not to throw caution to the winds and simply walk through Donaire. The Filipino fighter has faced massively better competition as well.
Fighter’s Grades: (Speed, Power, Defense, Reach, Age, Stamina, Experience)
Naoya Inoue: B+ A B B- B B+ B (Average of all) B (3.2)
Nonito Donaire: A B B- B C B A (Average of all) B (3.1)
Reality Check: The reality of this reality check is the near-certainty of a great fight. Remember Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk? An event that exceeded the hype! This one could too. This is why, lousy announcers and all, DAZN is worth having.
This is also a critically important fight for Inoue. If he doesn’t blow away the mega-talented but aging Donaire, rightly or wrongly, his monster status may be called into question. Donaire is easily his best opponent, looks terrific in training and will be a yardstick as to how great Inoue really is. And how hard he really hits. Really, in Inoue’s case they’re one and the same thing. Inoue is a skillful, very quick boxer with good footwork, but power is his game. In fact, I think even at 36, Donaire is as fast or slightly faster.
Nor is a grueling 12 round decision a good thing for the Monster. According to a learned medical article about head trauma I read recently, lower weight fighters really do suffer more damage earlier than boxers in the higher weight classes.
Fight and Prediction:
Inoue is amazing for many reasons. For one, he throws looping rights but also mixes in super straight right hands. If he throws a looping right recklessly, there could be trouble. Donaire throws one of the fastest counter check left hooks I’ve ever seen. It’s almost on the way back before an oppent’s right has fully connected. (See Donaire vs. Fernando Montiel.)
I’m going to say that Inoue does get tagged hard as he never has before. It’s conceivable he goes down but not out. His fantastic left hook and monstrous body work should help him win a tremendously exciting 12 round decision, but one in which he absorbs massive wear and tear. Of course, Inoue could connect earlier with a left hook that effectively ends Donaire’s big-time hopes, but I’m betting on the former in a fight we won’t soon forget.
Naoya Inoue UD Nonito Donaire, 12.