Naoya Inoue (left) and Nonito Donaire (right), two outstanding fighters who will battle for three titles in the bantamweight division on Tuesday. (Photo: Jiji Press / AFP)
The invitation is aimed at those who believe that second parties are never good, even if they live in this part of the planet they should get up early on Tuesday. Because around 9 (ESPN 2 will air from 6:30) in Saitama they will have to face Naoya Inoue Y Nonito Donaire in a duel in which three titles of the bantamweight division will be at stake and that will be the revenge of the fight that they starred in November 2019 and which was considered almost unanimously by the specialists as the best of that year.
The present of these two men and the prize that will be contested would already be enough arguments to summon any boxing fan. But the hook has an extra: the memory of that first race that Inoue won on points in the Saitama Super Arena (the same scenario in which they will find themselves this Tuesday) on November 7, 2019, when the word “coronavirus” was still unknown in every corner of the world.
That night, they shaped a merciless battle in which the venue was slightly higher in the 12 rounds, although not without jolts. Veteran Donaire fell in the eleventh round after a stab in the liver but managed to get back on his feet, survived his rival’s relentless attack that round and kept fighting until the last second of the duel.
The three judges awarded the victory to Inoue (114-113, 116-111 and 117-109), who retained the title of International Boxing Federation and added that of World Boxing Association, which belonged to his rival, although he ended the case. with a fractured right orbital bone, a deep cut under the right eyebrow and profuse epistaxis. Until then, no one had claimed it as the Filipino flash and since then no one has done so.
That defeat could have been the dignified end of the career of a boxer of about 37, who has been a professional for almost 19 years, who had already won eight crowns in four categories and whose inexorable fate was Boxing Hall of Fame. However, it was the starting point to reach a new goal: not only becomes world champion again, but also unifies all four 118-pound belts.
“After that fight, there was a fire burning inside me when I walked into the locker room: the feeling of not having been at my best. Now I know I can beat him and I wouldn’t want this rematch if I didn’t think I would be able to, “Donaire said at a press conference in Yokohama on Friday.”This is the biggest fight of my career. In boxing I have achieved everything but become the undisputed champion.. That’s the path to that, ”added the Las Vegas-based Talibon-born boxer who has a record of 42 wins (28 before deadline) and 6 losses.
The first step was taken in May last year, when he eliminated the French Nordine Oubaalifrom which he snatched the WBC belt. That win made him the longest-serving boxer to become world bantamweight champion., with 38 years and 194 days. Now, five months after turning 40 and with 21 fights for ecumenical titles on his resume (he won 17 – one against Omar Narváez del Chubut in 2011 – and he lost 4), he will also try to keep his belts. WBA and IBF. . Though For that, he has to achieve something the 22 men who tried before didn’t: beat Inoue.
The Japanese, one of the top five pound-for-pound boxers today, has come a considerable upward path since his professional debut.me a decade ago. In April 2014 and with only five hired races, he took the WBC light flyweight title; In December of the same year he made the leap and captured the World Boxing Organization’s super flyweight belt by eliminating Narváez in just two rounds, and in 2018 rose to the bantamweight division, of which he soon became the ruler.
For him Monster, born 29 years ago in Zama, 35 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, the goal is also to grab the four 118-pound crowns. After beating Donaire in 2019 and during a pandemic, he categorically eliminated the Australian Jason Moloneyto the Filipino Michele Dasmariñas and to Thai Aran Dipaen. Now you have to cross the gloves again, 943 days later, with in front of him one of the three opponents who came to hear the decision of the judges. And the one that gave him the most work.
“I am very excited about this rematch after two years and seven months. And I’m more motivated when I see three belts lined up in front of me. It will be an important fight to bring the four titles together, a step towards unification ”, highlighted the Japanese on Monday, in a press conference in which respect and chivalry prevailed. Obviously, there is no need for insults, pushes, provocations and bravado to guarantee the sale of the 36,000 tickets available.
Whoever wins on Tuesday will have only one step left to reach the shared goal: to face the British Paolo Maggiordomobantamweight champion of the World Boxing Organization, who on April 22 defeated the Filipino by points Jonah Sultan in Liverpool he obtained the interim title and two weeks later was recognized as a regular champion.
Briton Paul Butler is the World Boxing Organization bantamweight champion.
If this happened it’s because the WBO stripped their monarch up until then, the Filipino too. Giovanni Riel Casimero, who failed to fight Butler twice. The first, in December of last year, did not show up at the weight and ended up hospitalized in a hospital in Dubai, where the evening would have taken place, due to a viral gastritis.
The contest was rescheduled for April, but three days before the duel the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) announced that Casimero would not be able to fight after detecting the Asian was using a sauna to lose weight in those days. , a practical violation of medical policy in the UK. For this reason, the WBO stripped him of the title and awarded it to Butler after his victory over Sultan.