Japan’s undefeated “Monster” Naoya Inoue set out to become the undisputed bantamweight world champion after demolishing Nonito Donaire in two rounds on Tuesday and winning his third title.
Inoue beat Philippine veteran Donaire in the hard-fought classic of 2019, but there was nothing close to a retaliatory match in Saitama as Inoue added the WBC title to his WBA and IBF belts.
Inoue tripped 39-year-old Donaire at the end of the first round and then continued to attack the second and dropped him again with a trembling left hand, which convinced the referee to stop the fight.
Twenty-nine-year-old Inoue immediately turned his attention to becoming the undisputed bantamweight world champion by the end of the year, with only British WBO title holder Paul Butler now standing in his way.
“My next goal is to unite the titles in the bantam weight,” said Inoue, who is now undefeated in all 23 of his matches and won 20 by knockout.
“I’ve come this far and there’s only one left. I’ve gotten in a good position and I want to focus on unifying the titles.”
Butler, 33, won the empty WBO title of previous champion John Riel Casimer when he defeated Jonas Sultan in April by unanimous decision.
He was promoted from interim to full champion last month when the WBO stripped Casimer of the full title.
Inoue said that fighting Butler was his top priority, but warned that he was also interested in taking on a “new challenge” and moving to a superbantam scale.
“If I can’t fight Butler, I may have to fight someone on the ladder,” Inoue said.
“I want to choose a good option. We still have many years ahead of us, so I want to take my time and think about what I want to do.”
– “Decent winner” –
Anyone who fights Inoue next will encounter the fierce force of the blows that put Donaire on the screen in the first round.
Inoue didn’t slow down in the second round and fired a shot that wobbled “Filipino Flash” before another shot sent him back to the floor.
Inoue said he found “a different kind of enjoyment” from his shock and amazement compared to their epic first battle, and said it “felt like a dream” to him when he dropped it in the first round.
“Thanks to Donaire, I was able to win this third title here today,” Inoue said.
“He was the champion I admired when I was a student at the school.”
Donaire became the world’s oldest bantamweight champion when he defeated Nordin Oubaali by the WBC belt last May.
The veteran, who has won nine world titles in four weight categories during his 21-year professional career, did not speak to reporters after the match, but sent a message in which he described Inoue as a “worthy winner”.
Inoue said he was “proud” to fight Donair and “happy” with his night work.
“I wanted to feel more comfortable during the match, so the first round was very important,” he said.
“I was determined to start well.”
amk / dhc