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Mr. Nice Guy: Naoya Inoue

Image: Mr. Nice Guy: Naoya Inoue

By Eric Coronado Jr: First things first, we’ve all seen the utter destruction of the mighty Nonito ‘Filipino Flash’ Donaire by now by Naoya Inoue on Tuesday night in their headliner in Saitama, Japan.

Inoue is a major force to be reckoned with and is likely in a lot of top 5 lists following this morning’s performance.

Inoue (23-0-0, 20 KOs) destroyed an outmatched Nonito Donaire (42-7-0, 28 KOs) in the second round of their second bout. One thread from the story of their first fight was the mutual respect and goodwill between the two men. The two were all smiles before the fight, were respectful during the fight, and were, of course, friendly after.

Despite being on good terms, the Inoue that entered the ring this morning was in a different mode than the Inoue that won their first match by decision in November of 2019.

Gone were the well wishes, the hyper-respectful glove touch, the smiles. This time around, Inoue approached the center of the ring somberly as an executioner who’d been assigned his cousin’s head for the taking. One brief touch, a few seconds of suspense, and the fight were on.

Both men came in with the mentality that the other guy couldn’t handle the heat of an all-out assault. However, only one of them was correct.

We learned from the first fight that Inoue could stand up to Donaire’s biggest shots, but what Inoue learned after the encounter was that regardless of the camaraderie enjoyed outside of the fight, inside the ring, Donaire is not his friend.

He was an obstacle. He pulverized the older fighter with a resolution harder than the Cleto-Reyes gloves he now employs.

And really, this is a good metaphor. Gone were the protection-centered Winning gloves, replaced by the dynamite-fist-focused Mexican puncher’s glove. Giving respect to get it is admirable, but so is demanding it through dedication and output.

Which got me thinking.

How do you feel, readers, about the overt displays of respect from boxing’s “good guys” like Manny Pacquaio, Chocolatito, Mauricio Lara, and so on?

Is the glove touching between rounds too much? Should they stop playing nice guys so much? Does it add layers to the fight? Do you have no preference?

Please sound off in the comments below.

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