Nayoa Inoue-Nonito Donaire WBSS bantamweight final set for Nov. 7 in Saitama, Japan
The final of the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament finally has a date and location. Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire will square off in a 118-pound title unification bout on November 7 at the Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, it was officially announced on Wednesday.
DAZN will stream the fight live in the U.S.
The Inoue-Donaire bout is a clash between the youngest and oldest fighters in the eight-man tournament. The winner will be presented with WBSS’s Muhammad Ali Trophy.
The 26-year-old Inoue (18-0, 16 knockouts), who resides in nearby Yokohama, has scored impressive KOs against tough opposition in his two bouts of the tournament. On October 7, Inoue notched a one-punch knockout victory over former world titleholder Juan Carlos Payano. In his last bout on May 18, Inoue dropped Emmanuel Rodriguez three times en route to a second round knockout victory. With the win, Inoue won the IBF world title and the vacant Ring Magazine belt.
Inoue, who is No. 4 in The Ring’s Pound-for-Pound rankings, is favored to win the final but the Japanese star gives Donaire credit for his accomplishments in the sport.
“I can’t wait for the final,” said Inoue, who is promoted by Hideyuki Ohashi, “Donaire is to me a legend in the sport of boxing, and I am honored to be sharing the ring with him in the final. But I will do my very best to win against the legend to claim the Ali Trophy.”
Donaire (40-5, 26 KOs), who is originally from the Philippines and now resides in Las Vegas, defeated Ryan Burnett, the top seed, by knockout on November 3 when Burnett was not able to continue after suffering a back injury during the fourth round. With the win, Donaire won the WBA title.
The 36-year-old Donaire has not fought since April 27, when he scored a one-punch knockout victory over Stephon Young, who was a last-minute sub when WBO titleholder titleholder Zolani Tete had to withdraw from the tournament from a shoulder injury he suffered during training.
After fighting as high as featherweight just a few years ago, Donaire’s move back down to 118 pounds has paid dividends. Although the deck may be stacked against him, Donaire believes he can pull off a win over Inoue.
“I am looking forward to the final in Japan and a great fight,” said Donaire, who is aligned to Ringstar Sports. “I have fought several world champions, and I will come well-prepared. Inoue is an amazing fighter, but I saw flaws in his semi-final, and I think I can definitely create a game-plan against him and win the Ali Trophy.”
“Two bona-fide superstars are going to find out who is the very best in the division and bring home the Ali Trophy,” said Kalle Sauerland, AG Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer. “Inoue has proved why he is called ‘The Monster.’ He is a freak of nature (and) his power (is) from another planet. The already-iconic Donaire, who produced one of the knockouts of the year in his semi-final, is looking as strong as ever in the twilight of his career.”
Another final of the World Boxing Super Series between junior welterweights Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor has yet to be announced, although it is penciled for this fall, with London and Glasgow (Taylor’s hometown) as the likely sites to host the fight.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing