by Nick Giongco
Nonito Donaire better take Filipino super-flyweight KJ Cataraja’s words as gospel truth about his experience with Japanese knockout king Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue.
Cataraja logged about 100 rounds of sparring with Inoue over the course of one month and swore that the Japanese sensation hits like no other.
Inoue and Donaire are bound to fight in the bantamweight finals of the World Boxing Super Series and Cataraja insists that Donaire has to be at his absolute best.
Inoue displayed his chilling power Sunday by knocking out previously unbeaten Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez in less than two rounds in Glasgow, Scotland.
Donaire had first earned a finals WBSS ticket last April by flattening last-ninute substitute Stephon Young in Louisiana.
“If Nonito doesn’t train hard for this fight, he’a going to be in trouble,” said Cataraja in Pilipino from his training headquarters at ALA Boxing in Cebu City.
Last March, Inoue’s handlers signed him up as sparring partner for two weeks.
Then late last month, Inoue flew Cataraja back again for another two weeks.
Cataraja, undefeated in nine fights with seven KOs, had been warned by previous Filipino sparmates of Inoue’s awesome power.
It didn’t take long for Cataraja to find out they weren’t tall tales.
“His punches really hurt, especially his left hook,” said Cataraja, the same punch that put Rodriguez down for the first time in his career.
Rodriguez, blood running from his nose, was shaking his head and motioning to his corner to stop the fight, right after the first knockdown.
The three-division titlist Inoue would put him down two more times before the referee decided that he had seen enough, giving him his 16th KO win in 18 fights without a loss.
Cataraja, 24, feels Inoue holds the advantage against four-division world champion Donaire, who is ten years older at 36.