Aftermath: Inoue vs Donaire
Photos (top to bottom) KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images (x2); Toru Hanai/Getty Images
Young warrior Naoya Inoue defeated old master Nonito Donaire in a pulsating World Boxing Super Series bantamweight final. Lee Gormley, Andrew Harrison and Callum Rudge react to the fight...
BM: Your take on the fight and scorecard?
LG: What a fight! It's going to hard to pick a 'Fight of the Year' come the end of 2019, mainly thanks to the WBSS! I had it the same as one of the judges at the end, scoring it 116-111 to Inoue. 'The Monster' had to finally dig deep and push himself over 12 rounds but he comes out with even more credibility having done so and his stock has risen further. Some might argue he's lost some of his aura after being pushed by someone of Donaire's age but I think it's the opposite. He showed he has a great chin as well as being able to box on the back foot and that makes him even scarier for opponents. He's a complete package and a worthy winner.
AH: A great fight, in the grand tradition of the division. I thought it was absolutely absorbing – up there with Taylor vs Prograis. I didn’t keep score (how could you?!) but 116-111 felt about right. Inoue was tested, by a great old fighter, and came through with flying colours.
CR: The Sky commentary called it a modern classic, and it was a great advert for the lower divisions. After the 12 rounds I had Inoue winning by a score of 116-111, 8 rounds to 4 plus the knockdown. I thought he was brilliant. He was cut and hurt badly but he responded to adversity by using his feet, countering Donaire and ultimately breaking the Filipino’s resistance in Round 11. Donaire showed that, even at 37, he’s still a world class operator at 118lbs and could give anyone a horrible night.
BM: Where does Inoue figure in the P4P shakedown?
LG: Inoue was already top five pound-for-pound and obviously remains there but this wasn't enough to crown him at top spot. He'll eventually get there though, he's one of the best all-round fighters around for sure.
AH: I’d like to retire P4P! For me, the best two fighters around (after that fight) are Lomachenko and Inoue.
CR: The Top 5 of Canelo, Loma, Inoue, Crawford and Usyk can be placed in any order and you wouldn’t dispute the list. For me Canelo is number 1 but Inoue showed that he belongs in that company and has a valid claim himself.
BM: What more can we say about the great Nonito Donaire?
LG: Donaire should retire now and go out in style. He hasn't lost anything in defeat to Inoue. That was an incredible fight and despite coming up short in the end he has boosted his legacy nevertheless. He was already a certain future Hall of Fame fighter but this has bolstered his overall standing even more so. What a warrior.
AH: It’s funny how things pan out. I like to think a fighter’s true worth will be shown over the course of their career. There were people picking holes in Donaire’s record heading into this one, so it was fitting he summoned one of his greatest performances. I’m so glad I got to see him ringside in Glasgow.
CR: While I had Donaire losing on the cards, the score I had doesn’t paint the full picture of the bout and Donaire was competitive for every round with one of the sports elite, at 37! There is something in the water in the Philippines that makes boxers perform at such high levels at this age. After losing to Walters at featherweight, he looked finished, now he looks anything but.
BM:.Your view on the WBSS and wish list for season 3?
LG: The World Boxing Super Series cannot be praised enough! They've provided some remarkable match-ups and as their appeal and reputation grows, hopefully the bigger names in other divisions will want in. The smaller weight classes are all buzzing right now so any division below the now finished bantamweights would be great. Light-flyweight in particular could be special and the platform would help boost the popularity of the smaller guys, who always provide great action!
AH: I’ve been banging the drum for the WBSS since the get-go. Tournament boxing is the only way forward for the sport. It’s the only way we can cut through the alphabet mess, and lack of true governance within the sport. The Sauerlands deserve all the credit in the world for bringing these two tournaments home. And how fortunate were British fans to see them play out in the UK? I’d love to see junior middleweight next, along with lightweight. I just hope we have some British interest in the next edition, so we have the chance to get involved all over again.
CR: I love it, I love everything about it. Everything about it is different but with a nod to tradition. From the Muhammad Ali trophy to “Step into the Light” its presentation is done in a way that respects the sport but doesn’t take itself too seriously. For the next season I would love for them to get the light heavyweights; Gvozdyk, Beterbiev, Bivol, Kovalev and Badou Jack with the British wild cards in Yarde, Buatsi and maybe even Callum Smith. That would be a great tournament.