Nonito Donaire ready for Naoya Inoue: ‘We’re both warriors and we’re both willing to go to war’
TOKYO – “I’m no pushover, that’s for sure!”
The statement is delivered with serious intent. As charming and personable as Nonito Donaire can be, he is a fighter to the core, particularly when threatened. The classy four-weight world titleholder knows that he’s being written off by the majority of fans and media, and the negativity fuels him. He wants to prove you wrong.
On Thursday, “The Filipino Flash” meets “The Monster” at the Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Donaire (40-5, 26 knockouts) will put his WBA bantamweight title on the line against IBF counterpart Naoya Inoue, who also happens to be The Ring Magazine champion at 118 pounds. It is the hotly anticipated final of the World Boxing Super Series.
“It’s sold out,” Donaire told The Ring, the excitement in his voice palpable. “It’s the biggest fight out there right now. It’s big for Japan; it’s gonna be a very big crowd, a very big event. There’s gonna be more than 20,000 people there.
“I love what I do, and the only goal I have now is to be undisputed. That’s the only thing that I have not accomplished in boxing. All I’m thinking about is becoming undisputed champion of the world. It doesn’t stop here; there’s still other belts that I’m looking to take. It’s my best weight class and I feel very comfortable, very confident in this division.”
Donaire, who is rated No. 3 by The Ring at bantamweight, has never lost at 118 pounds. During his career, he has held three world titles in that weight class alone, and his body of work is beyond reproach. The 36-year-old is without question the most experienced and decorated opponent Inoue has ever faced, and he promises to deliver when the bell rings.
“I have power and I’m not afraid of him,” said Donaire defiantly. “I believe that the people he’s fought have been fearful of him and his power. The difference is I welcome it, and I’m getting a lot of excitement out of the challenge. He’s going to face a guy with power, speed, intelligence and experience. We’ll constantly be adjusting in this fight.
“All of my camps have been tremendous, but I have a lot more focus for this fight. I’m focussed on beating the guy. If it goes to points it goes to points, but I’d prefer to end the fight. That’s always been my thing and it will always be my thing. I’m always looking to end the fight as soon as I can.”
Inoue, however, has the very same philosophy when it comes to combat. More than once, the Japanese sensation has expressed his desire to get in and get out as quickly as possible. He has a great boxing brain and can feel an opponent out, but that process is always short. In the four fights he’s had since December 2017, the unbeaten Inoue hasn’t seen a fourth round.
“We’re just focussed on being adaptable,” countered Donaire. “The fight could end early or it could end late. This is a fight that has a lot to offer. We’re both talented, we can box and we have tremendous punching power. Anything can happen in this fight; the styles could change, something could happen at any moment.
“I can do a lot of stuff, and there’s a lot that people want to see from him, a lot to be proven. That’s what you guys will see. He’ll be tested in every way. Will he prevail or will he fail? It could be Fight of the Year. We’re both warriors and we’re both willing to go to war.”
Inoue vs. Donaire will be broadcast live on DAZN in the U.S.
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing