Naoya Inoue drops Nonito Donaire twice, scores devastating second-round stoppage
“What’s that coming over the hill?” Yes, it is a “Monster.”
Naoya Inoue scored a brutal and decisive second-round stoppage of Nonito Donaire at the Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, on Tuesday and added the WBC bantamweight title to his Ring, WBA and IBF versions. The official time was 1:24.
Inoue, who is rated No. 3 on The Ring’s pound for pound list, dropped Donaire in the opening round and closed out in the second with some pulverizing left hooks, the last of which decked his opponent heavily. Referee Michael Griffin has seen enough and stopped the bout almost immediately.
“Thank you so much everyone, I did it,” said Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs) during his post-fight interview. “In the very first round I seen the left hook from Nonito and that punch made me wake up. To be able to raise my status, I needed to win, so I just decided to finish this fight.”
There was caution from both sides in the opening round, but bombs started flying in the final seconds. Inoue got the better of it with some excellent counters and decked Donaire with a sharp right. This was the type of warning sign that you don’t want early on in a fight with Inoue.
It was all uphill for Donaire and the second round was hard to watch. Inoue continually scored with the left hook and the classy veteran’s equilibrium had deserted him. Determined to go out on his shield, Donaire refused to play it safe and that proved to be his undoing.
The 29-year-old Inoue will now target the final piece of the undisputed bantamweight puzzle. The reigning WBO titleholder, Paul Butler, from Ellesmere Port, England, would be a prohibitive underdog, but a matchup between the pair would still generate big business in Japan or the U.K.
Donaire (42-7, 28 KOs), 39, is a lock for the Hall of Fame. A former four-weight world titleholder, who has campaigned at the elite level for almost two decades, he has nothing more to prove in this sport. “The Filipino Flash” will be missed – badly – but it’s time for this incredible champion to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Junior welterweight Andy Hiraoka scored a punishing sixth-round stoppage over Shun Akaiwa. The official time was
Southpaw Hiraoka (20-0, 15 KOs) decked his man with a sharp left uppercut in the opening round and had things his own way early. Akaiwa’s head was far too static and Hiraoka took advantage by teeing off at will. There was some brief resistance from Akaiwa in the fifth, but Hiraoka closed out impressively with a punishing two-fisted assault that forced referee Takeru Okinawa to stop the bout. Akaiwa drops to 7-4-1 (5 KOs).
Takuma Inoue, younger brother of Naoya, won a hard-fought 12-round unanimous decision over countryman Gakuya Furuhashi at junior featherweight. The official scores were 120-108, 120-108 and 119-109.
It was a high-contact bout with Inoue scoring the more effective shots throughout. The right uppercut was a signature shot and Inoue also let loose with some nice combination punching in the second half. Inoue improves to 15-1 (3 KOs), while Furuhashi falls to 28-9-2 (16 KOs).
Tom Gray is managing editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing