By CARLO ANOLIN
On his ‘beast’ mode once again, Naoya Inoue unloaded power punches and scored a sensational second round knockout win over vintage Filipino fighter Nonito Donaire in their unification rematch Tuesday night at the Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
A more explosive and dangerous Inoue entered the second frame and went for the kill after stunning Donaire with a couple of wicked hooks to put an end to their fabled rivalry since their first encounter last November 2019 ‒ a bout that earned Fight of the Year.
The 29-year-old Inoue remained undefeated in 23 straight matches on top of 20 knockouts and finally unified the super World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation, and World Boxing Council bantamweight belts.
As the owner of the WBA and IBF titles, Inoue, in the process, also dethroned Donaire from his WBC seat.
The victory also marks Inoue’s seventh straight title defense since first winning the regular World Boxing Organization (WBO) belt against Jamie McDonnell last May 2018.
After two years and seven months, the Japanese superstar showed why he’s called the “Monster” once more and unleashed vicious hooks before referee Michael Griffin intervened and halted the match at the 1:24 mark of the second round.
Donaire, who seemed disoriented after the stunner, got back up to his feet and hugged Inoue before the formal announcement of the winner.
A left hook by the “Filipino Flash” woke the beast inside of Inoue and retaliated with powerful hooks of his own, wobbling and flooring Donaire at the very same venue for the first part of the “Drama in Saitama.”
Inoue capped the slow first round with a hefty right hook in the waning seconds which caught Donaire off guard as the Saitama Super Arena went into frenzy.
The 39-year-old Donaire, for his part, fell to a 42-7 record with 28 knockouts.
The loss could be the end of Donaire’s “road to undisputed” journey as he intends to fight next Paul Butler for the WBO.
With the specter of Donaire’s retirement, it is most likely that the Japanese superstar will be the one to hunt for Butler’s WBO strap.