Nonito Donaire scouted out Naoya Inoue’s fight against IBF bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez last Saturday night in the semi-final of the World Boxing Super Series 118-pound tournament at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland. Donaire (40-5, 26 KOs) says he saw some flaws in Inoue’s game that he thinks he can take exploit when the two of them face each other in the final of the WBSS tourney later this year.
WBA ‘regular’ bantamweight champion Inoue (18-0, 16 KOs) stopped Rodriguez in the second round. It looked like a good performance to the average fan, but Donaire’s keen eyesight saw something in the hard hitting Inoue’s performance that he’s going to train for in order to beat him in their WBSS tournament final.
“I saw some flaws,” Donaire said to Boxing Social in talking about the flaws he saw from Naoya Inoue in his fight against Emmanuel Rodriguez. “I’ve got to go back to the drawing board to see where I can take advantage of his movement and his distance with him. I see flaws, and I think I can definitely create a game plan against him,” Donaire said.
What Donaire is likely talking about is how often Rodriguez was able to connect with hard shots to the head of Inoue in the first round. Rodriguez was finding a home for his right hand and left hook in the 1st round, and if the fight had continued into the later rounds, we might have seen Inoue tasting defeat for the first time in his career. There wouldn’t have been no shame in that, of course. Inoue has only fought a handful of time as a pro, and most of the guys were less spectacular fighters.
Inoue’s resume is too weak to gauge how well he’ll do against Donaire
No one knows how good Inoue is due to his limited pro experience. The best names on Inoue’s resume are these fighters:
– Emmanuel Rodriguez
– Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12 KOs)
– Omar Andres Narvaez (49-3-2, 25 KOs)
– David Carmona (21-6-5, 9 KOs)
– Antonio Nieves (18-2-2, 10 KOs)
– Yoan Boyeaux (41-6, 26 KOs)
– Juan Carlos Payano (21-2, 9 KOs)
– Jamie McDonnell (29-3-1, 13 KOs).
Those are good fighters, but none of them are so incredibly good that you can say that Inoue is a superstar for having beaten them. Further, Donaire would likely beat all of them, and do it by knockout. For that reason, you can’t really say that what Inoue has done in beating those guys means he’s going to defeat Donaire. Inoue doesn’t have the quality wins on his resume that would suggest that he would beat Donaire. That’s why no one really knows who will win the Donaire vs. Inoue fight.
“To get a victory in this fight is the one with the best plan,” said Donaire. “I think we both have enough talent to face each other evenly. Who has the best plan will win the fight. I think in Japan, they’re going to shutdown everything, because this is the biggest fight they have. Around the world, my name as a fighter, I always make exciting fights, and I always have a chance to win a fight at any given moment because of my power,” Donaire said.
It’s pretty obvious what Inoue will be looking to do in the fight. He attacks with single power shots, and his opponents can either take them or they can’t. When they handle his power, Inoue finds himself in tough fights where he’s getting hit a lot due to his poor defensive skills. He’s good at throwing punches, but he’s an average fighter in defending against them. He loses his balance easily when he gets hit.
Donaire is first big puncher for Inoue
This will be the first fight for Inoue against a monster puncher equal or better than himself during his career. The guys that Inoue has been fighting up until has been smaller fighters without a lot of power at 112, 115 and 118. None of those guys punch like Donaire. If they could, they’d be world champions instead of knockout victims on Inoue’s resume. If Inoue isn’t able to knockout Donaire early in this fight, his chin is going to be severely tested by him many times. If Donaire lands one of his big left hooks on the button, it’s going to be a real test of Inoue’s ability to take a hard shot.
“I think it’s more of not setting up anymore in this division, and just kind of throwing it,” Donaire said about his philosophy in winning in the 118-pound weight class. “In the bigger divisions, I have to sit down on it, and when I do sit down on it, I’m a little bit off. The timing is a little bit off. This time, I just have to throw it, and when it lands, it lands, without any restrictions and down they go,” Donaire said.
The mistake that Donaire has been since he moved back down to the bantamweight division is he’s not let his hands go like he used to when he fought in this weight class eight years ago. Donaire waits too long to throw shots, as if he’s looking for the perfect punch to knock them out. With Donaire’s power, he can hurt them by just unloading on them like he did against Ryan Burton. That was classic Donaire in that fight. But in Donaire’s last match against Stephon Young, he went back to waiting too much, and letting the southpaw Young land way too many shots before he got aggressive in the sixth round. That could have been an easy fight for Donaire if he’d come out fighting aggressively in the first round.
A win for Donaire can’t be called an upset
With the huge imbalance in experience and accomplishments as a pro, it would be silly to call a victory for Donaire over Inoue an upset. Inoue hasn’t beaten or faced the same level of opposition that Donaire has faced. Some of the names that Donaire has lost to as a pro would likely beat Inoue. That’s not a knock on Inoue. It’s just the reality. If he were to move up to featherweight and take on a big guy like Carl Frampton, Jessie Magdaleno or Nicholas Walters before he stopped fighting, he’d likely lose to all of them. The size difference would be too much. Going up almost 10 pounds to face guys that are not only bigger, but hit harder.