Nonito Donaire Jr.'s world-title clash with Japan's Naoya Inoue deserves to win fight of the year, because both men didn't show any quit in them, said one boxing analyst.
ESPN chose the November 7 bout in Saitama, Japan, as the best of 2019, and Filipino fight commentator Ed Tolentino agreed.
“Both fighters threw caution to the wind. They threw everything at each other; including the kitchen sink,” Tolentino said Friday. “Both men wanted to win, nobody wanted to give in.”
The barn burner of bout was the thrilling finale in the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament pitting the former 4-division champion from the Philippines and the heavy-handed knockout artist from Japan.
ESPN’s Dan Rafael described the bout as “a mesmerizing, punishing battle from start to finish between two master boxers.”
“They dispensed with the sweet science and rumbled in an enthralling and superb fight, which Inoue won 117-109, 116-111 and 114-113 on the scorecards but not before he had to overcome tremendous adversity for the first time in his career,” Rafael wrote.
Inoue, who is 10 years younger than Donaire, was expected to run down the “Filipino Flash” but the latter had other plans.
Donaire landed a cracking left hook that opened a cut over Inoue's right eye in the second round. Inoue also suffered a fractured orbital bone and nose in the same round, but Inoue fought back by repeatedly rocking Donaire with right hands.
Inoue scored it big in the 11th round, where he dropped Donaire with a left to the body. But Donaire survived and slugged it out again until the 12th.
Inoue emerged victorious, but Donaire won the hearts of fans.
“Everybody thought that Inoue was going to literally hammer the final nail on Donaire's career. ‘The Monster’ was supposed to be invincible. But Donaire instead came close to completely resurrecting his career with a gut wrenching showing,” said Tolentino.
“Inoue wanted to make Donaire another KO statistic but Donaire, despite his age, was not willing to play an accomplice.
“Donaire could have stayed down in the 11th, but he summoned whatever energy he had left to get back on his feet and jump back into the frying pan.”
The most astonishing part was the way the boxers respected each other even after the fight.
“Amid the brutality, both men showed great respect towards each other. It was a rarity: a brutal but judicious contest,” Tolentino added.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)