Too often, boxing pundits immediately declare a fight as the “Fight Of The Year.” Most recently, the Pacquiao-Thurman and Spence-Porter matches.
While they were spectacular, Thursday’s World Boxing Super Series Final was undeniably a FOTY contender with multiple momentum swings and storylines that made each one dramatic.
Before the bout, previews and predictions seemed to be more in the spirit of “how long can Nonito Donaire last?”
A former 4 division World Champion, Donaire has spent the last handful of years losing in fights where the opponent looked to put a hall of fame name on their resumè.
Losses to “Axeman” Walters, Carl Frampton, and Jessie Magdaleno put the “Filipino Flash” out of the pound for pound conversation permanently.
In a shocking turn of events over 2019, Donaire, as the last seed in the World Boxing Super Series tournament, managed to make it to the finals after 1st seeded Ryan Burnett retired due to injury against Donaire.
Naoya “The Monster” Inoue, on the other hand, left a string of bodies unconscious on the canvass on his way to the final.
Undefeated, and over a decade younger than Donaire, the heavy favorite seemed to be in control.
Showing off his speed early in the tournament’s final bout, “The Monster,” also landed heavy hits that would have stunned lesser competitors.
After managing to stand up to the initial onslaught, Donaire landed a left hook that opened a large cut over Inoue’s right eye.
The gash, appearing to be the length of the eyelid, cracked the facade of Inoue’s aura of invincibility.
Inoue and Donaire would both have their moments in many rounds with Donaire putting together solid work in the later middle rounds.
Having hurt Inoue in the 9th, Donaire was put on the canvass himself when Inoue struck back, landing a massive body shot.
Donaire eventually made it to the bell, losing by unanimous decision to the Japanese fighter in Tokyo.
Even though he didn’t win, Donaire provided another example of his world-class skill and heart, as the first opponent to put Inoue through a war.
Inoue announced after the match that he had signed with Top Rank to promote his fights in the US.