Nonito Donaire with BIG size advantage over Naoya Inoue

By Dean Berman: Nonito Donaire will be looking to take advantage of his big size advantage over unbeaten Naoya Inoue this Thursday in the WBSS bantamweight final at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The two champions stood next to each other on Monday to pose for pictures during their medical exam, and the 5’7 1/2″ Donaire (40-5, 26 KOs) towered over the 5’5″ Inoue (18-0, 16 KOs).

Donaire’s power could be a problem for Naoya

Inoue hasn’t been hit by anyone with the kind of power that Donaire is packing, and this could be a new experience for the KO artist from Japan. Since Donaire returned to the bantamweight division, he’s turned his sagging career around with knockout wins over Stephon Young and Ryan Burnett. Donaire’s power is still formidable to the extreme at bantamweight.

Nonito had been fighting at featherweight up until recently, and his power wasn’t as good at that weight as it is at bantamweight. He was still a HUGE puncher at 126, but required for him to land more shots to knockout his opponents. Before returning to his old weight class at 118, Donaire hadn’t scored a knockout since 2016. It was clear that Donaire needed drop back down to 118 to extend his career a little longer.

“I’m very excited,” said Donaire about his fight on Thursday against Inoue. “I have big respect for him, he looks ready, but that’s what we expect. I’m relaxed right now, but it doesn’t matter what we feel today, it’s what we do inside the ring on Thursday that counts.”

Donaire with the larger frame & superior power

It isn’t just the height that makes Donaire look so much bigger. His frame is considerably bigger, and it’s difficult to ignore how apart these two knockout artists are in size.

The youth and hand speed is on the 26-year-old Inoue’s side. He’s considerably faster than Donaire, and he possesses pinpoint accuracy that makes him a nightmare to fight. In terms of power, Donaire has got a considerable edge over Inoue. With Donaire’s naturally bigger frame, he punches more like a lightweight than a bantamweight. Inoue hasn’t faced anyone with the kind of power that Donaire has going for him.

What Donaire has lost with age, besides hand speed, is his reflexes and accuracy. He’s not able to pull the trigger at the right time to score fast knockouts like he did 12 years ago. Donaire’s 5th round knockout victory over Vic Darchinyan was a perfect example of how great his timing was

Inoue, 26, says he’s trained to deal with Donaire’s size. He’s been working with sparring partners the same size as Nonito, and he plans on being ready on Thursday. With Inoue’s body punching ability, height doesn’t matter as much to him as it does to other fighters. He’s capable of chopping down the tallest fighters without being troubled by their height and reach advantages over him. Last year, Inoue knocked out World Boxing Association bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell in the 1st round in May 2018.

Inoue hasn’t gone the distance since 2016

The last fighter to go the full 12 round distance against Inoue was David Carmona in 2016. In that fight, Inoue looked VERY flustered and uncomfortable at getting hit back so often by Carmona. What that fight showed is Inoue doesn’t like getting hit back, and looks unsure of himself when he’s not able to knockout his opponents right away. That’s the problem with knockout artists. They get used to their opponents crumbing right away.

When they meet up with someone that is able to hang in there with them, they struggle, and sometimes lose. It doesn’t require a fighter with major power to give them difficulties. It often is someone with moderate power but with a great chin that is able to stick with it and expose the KO artists. Inoue cannot afford to allow Donaire to make it into the second half of their  fight on Thursday, because he’s got too much power to be playing around with.

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Donaire vs. Inoue is 50-50 fight

The 36-year-old Donaire isn’t the fighter he once was in his prime in 2012. He’s slowed down in the seven years, and suffered four losses. His defeats have come against good fighters in Carl Frampton, Jessie Magadelno, Nicholas Walters and Guillermo Rigondeaux.  Donaire’s power is still the best, and Inoue will need to make sure he doesn’t get hit more than a handful of times in this fight.

Inoue is a good fighter, but he doesn’t react well at all when he gets hit back. The fighters that have been able hit Inoue have shown that he doesn’t react well. It’s easy to read Inoue when he gets hit in what he’s thinking. He looks worried when things aren’t going his way.

“Like we saw with Canelo vs Kovalev, height doesn’t matter, size doesn’t matter,” said Donaire. “Ultimately it’s about the game plan, and I believe I have the game plan to beat Inoue. And my experience will carry me through.”