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Inoue obliterates Donaire in 2nd round TKO

Image: Inoue obliterates Donaire in 2nd round TKO

By Sam Volz: IBF/WBA bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs) made the 39-year-old WBC belt holder Nonito Donaire (42-7, 28 KOs) look his age tonight, knocking the former four-division world champion down twice en route to a surprisingly easy second-round knockout on Tuesday evening in their unification match in Saitama, Japan.

As bad as Donaire looked tonight, he was pretty fortunate not to have been stopped in the first round because he was too slow and sluggish to compete with the younger, faster ‘Monster’ Inoue.

The first round was uneventful, with minimal activity until the final seconds, in which Naoya landed a big right hand that put Donaire down on the canvas.

It was fortunate for Donaire that the round ended while the referee was checking him out after he’d gotten back up. Inoue looked like he was ready to sprint across the ring to finish Donaire, and it’s unlikely that ‘The Filipino Flash’ would have made it out of the round.

In the second round, Inoue staggered Donaire twice with left hooks to the head. He had Donaire trapped against the ropes during one instance, causing referee Michael Griffin to watch closely as if he were able to step in and stop the contest.

Later in the round, Inoue hurt Donaire with a left to the head and then nailed him with a big right hand that put him down for the second time in the contest. Referee Michael Griffin then stepped in and halted the contest at 1:24 of the round.

Although the fight was supposed to have been a competitive rematch of their thrilling match three years ago in 2019, it was immediately apparent that the 39-year-old Donaire had aged too much since the first fight to be competitive against the younger 29-year-old Inoue.

While Inoue had aged as well since their first fight, he was too fast for the shockingly slow Donaire.

The fight could have been interesting if Donaire had been able to hang with Inoue because his shots had a lot of power on them, but he was getting beaten to the punch repeatedly by the Japanese star.

The hand speed was the difference in the fight. If this had been the 24-year-old version of Donaire that destroyed Vic Darchinyan in 2004, Inoue would have had a lot to worry about tonight because Nonito was lightning quick back then.

Unfortunately for Donaire, the age is starting to show, and he doesn’t possess the speed to deal with the cat-like reflexes of Inoue tonight.

That’s not to say that Donaire isn’t capable of beating the other top bantamweight in the division because we’ve already seen him blast through Nordine Oubaali and Reymart Gaballo in his two previous fights. Those guys are high-caliber fighters at 118.

With Inoue’s victory tonight, he’ll likely be facing WBO bantamweight champion Paul Butler next for the undisputed 118-lb championship. That should be an easy fight for Inoue because Butler doesn’t possess the power of Donaire.

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