On Thursday, Nov 7th Unfeated IBF/WBA Reg Bantamweight Champion Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16KOs) will clash with WBA (Super) Champion (40-5, 26KOs) at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.
Naoya Inoue has looked like a hurricane, destroying everything in his path. It has taken him a total of three rounds to get to the final. He knocked out Juan Carlos Payano (21-3, 9KOs) in first round in the quarterfinals. Then he knocked out Emmanuel Rodríguez (19-1, 12KOs) in the second round. It’s been very impressive. No one has been able to figure him out. Not only does he have very heavy hands, but he’s also very quick, high ring IQ, good punch selection, and very good footwork. It seems as though he’s the complete package.
Nonito Donaire has had a long and successful career. He’s 36 years old, has been in some wars, which makes him the more experienced of the two. He’s also had the clear easier path to the WBSS finals. He TKO’d Ryan Burnett (20-1, 10KOs) in 4 rounds in the quarterfinal. He was supposed to fight WBO Champion Zolani Tete (28-3, 21KOs) in the Semifinal but a shoulder injury forced Tete out of that fight and he was replaced by Stephon Young (18-2-3, 7KOs). He made quick work of Young, knocking him out in six rounds. Donaire is well past his prime, and isn’t the same fighter he once was. He still has power and his signature left hook that has to be respected by Inoue. He’s also very intelligent, his ring IQ is very high, he can lure Inoue into traps, and throw good counters. Another thing to consider is that Donaire has campaigned at Featherweight before, so he comes into this bout significantly bigger than his opponent. Maybe he can land a left hook and test the chin of Inoue.
Keys to Victory for Inoue:
- Close the gap/Pour on pressure early. Inoue is faster, and has been an absolute monster. He should try to overwhelm Donaire early and end the fight before it really begins. He should do this intelligently, not over commit. He needs to slip the jab, use his angles and get gritty inside.
- Go to the body. A lot of people thought Donaire wouldn’t look that good, draining himself down to Bantamweight. Donaire hasn’t fought any elite competition, and Inoue is really his first challenge, and what a challenge it is. Inoue needs to attack that body, and break Donaire down. His endurance won’t be as good at Bantamweight, as well as age creeping up. If Inoue can get a consistent body attack going early, this fight wont last.
- Needs to be defensively aware. Normally wouldn’t mention this as a key but it really is here. Inoue is used to just walking through guys, and he might be able to hurt Donaire early and do so. BUT Donaire has serious power, is bigger than Inoue (Inoue is used to being the bigger man), and Donaire is smart. If Donaire’s left hook lands flush on Inoue’s chin, it could put him out. Inoue needs to use his movement, needs to use his awareness and intelligence to avoid getting sucked into scenarios where he can be countered with that left hook. This is very important. Inoue cannot get complacent or careless.
Key to Victory for Donaire:
- Control the Range. He does not want this to turn into an inside war. He needs to use his length advantage (which is not great but it’s something) and establish the jab early. He needs to turn this into a chess match. He cant allow Inoue to get into a rhythm where he’s killing him on inside to the body. If he can keep this fight on outside, he has a chance.
- Use Ring IQ, Set Traps, land counters. We want Donaire to make this a chess match. He will need to pull out all the stops. He will need to lure Inoue into what appears to be an inside fight, and use his good timing and accuracy to land counters. Would love to see Donaire land the counter left hook and see if Inoue can take it. Inoue is also smart, he may not take the bait. Use lateral movement when needed to switch angles and possibly confuse Inoue. If he can take Inoue’s punishment, he can trick Inoue into thinking he’s hurt, maybe force Inoue to get a little reckless and counter him like that.
- Mix up punch selection/combos. Donaire has always had a bad habit of getting fixated on only landing the left hook. In this fight, he will not get away with just loading up that punch. He will get murdered if he becomes predictable. He needs to mix up combinations, both to the body and the head. Throw jabs to the body, use uppercuts, and if the opportunity presents itself throw either a short left, or come over the top for the jackpot punch (left hook).
This fight can go one of two ways. Either Inoue will continue his path of destruction or he will face his first real challenge in a slower paced fight than he’s unaccustomed to. Donaire is dangerous with his power, but he’s still the slower, older fighter and has significantly more mileage on him. My Prediction: Youth and speed, Inoue by mid round KO/TKO
The fight will be shown on DAZN app/website. It will not be televised in the UK. Since the fight is taking place in Japan, it will start at 5:00AM ET. I’m sure some of your hardcore boxing fans will wake up with me to catch the fight.