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Preview: Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire 2 on June 7th on ESPN+

Image: Preview: Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire 2 on June 7th on ESPN+

By Chris Williams: Bantamweight champions Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue and Nonito Donaire will be fighting in a rematch this Tuesday, June 7th, LIVE on ESPN+ in a three-belt unification match in a prelude to an undisputed championship. Inoue-Donaire II will be at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

Unfortunately, the rematch between the famous 29-year-old Japanese star Inoue and 39-year-old Donaire has gone under the radar of many boxing fans worldwide. They’ve had their eyes on the George Kambosos Jr. vs. Devin Haney lightweight undisputed fight last Saturday night.

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Inoue (22-0, 19 KOs) defeated Donaire (42-6, 28 KOs) 22-0, 19 KOs) three years ago in 2019, but he’s done nothing since, choosing to fight lesser opposition.

Naoya suffered a fractured orbital bone and a broken nose in the fight with Donaire. Inoue’s left eye looks different in appearance since the injury occurred.

It’s unclear whether Inoue’s punishment took away his motivation to fight elite-level opposition because he’s done little in the last three years of his career, fighting fringe-level fighters: Aran Dipaen, Michael Dasmariñas, and Jason Moloney.

The Donaire fight was brutal for Inoue, but surprisingly, the Japanese star chose to step away from fighting elite-level opposition after that grueling match.

Looking at all the top fighters that Inoue could have fought since 2019, it’s disappointing that he chose to fight Dipaen, Dasmarinas, and Moloney. What happened to Inoue? Did he lose his killer instinct?

If Chris Williams were Inoue’s promoter, he’d have matched him against these killers in the last three years:

  • Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez
  • Juan Estrada
  • Donnie Nietes
  • Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
  • Joshua Franco
  • Gary Antonio Russell

Donaire has done more with his career in the last three years, beating Nordine Oubaali and Reymart Gaballo. Those two are worlds better than the three guys Inoue has fought.

Donaire had wanted an immediate rematch with Inoue, but it’s unclear what stopped that fight from happening. Was it Inoue? Looking at the lesser opposition that Inoue has faced in the last three years, you wonder.

The undercard for Inoue-Donaire II is a poor one, filled with obscure fighters from top to bottom. Inoue’s younger brother, super bantamweight Takuma Inoue will be fighting in the co-feature spot.

It’s too bad the undercard doesn’t have any quality fights because there’s nothing for boxing fans to see in terms of fighters that could one day capture a world title.

This will be Takuma’s third fight since losing to Nordine Oubaali in a one-sided 12-round decision defeat in 2019. Takuma was out of his league in his loss to Oubaali, and it’s hard to know if he’s improved because he’s not faced anyone of note since his defeat.

Inoue vs. Donaire 2 undercard:

  • Takuma Inoue vs. Gakuya Furuhashi
  • Andy Hiraoka vs. Shun Akaiwa
  • Toshiya Ishii vs. Hikaru Fukunaga
  • Kanamu Sakama vs. Fuki Ishigaki
  • Minori Okamura vs. Kota Matsuno
  • Chihiro Iwashita vs. Seiryu Yamana

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