One of the best boxers in the world can become a unified bantamweight champion this fall in front of his home fans.
Naoya Inoue (18-0) and Filipino legend Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26 KOs) will square off in the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight final on November 7th at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. At stake are Inoue’s IBF title and Donaire’s WBA belt, along with the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Known as “The Monster,” Inoue has lived up to his nickname in the form of winning world titles in multiple weight classes, knocking out world-class opposition along the way. In this eight-man field, Inoue annihilated Juan Carlos Payano in just 70 seconds, and in the semifinals against Manny Rodriguez he put him down three times and prevailed in just 4:20 of fight time. Add in his pre-tournament demolition of Jamie McDonnell and Inoue’s bantamweight career has lasted all of seven minutes and 22 seconds.
Donaire is a four-division champion who at one point was one of hte best pound-for-pound boxers in the world. That said, the 36-year-old’s run to the final has also come with good fortune. A back injury led to him winning by TKO against Ryan Burnett in the quarterfinals, then when slated to face WBO champion Zolani Tete in the semifinals, Tete withdrew due to injury. Against tournament alternate Stephon Young, he produced one of the knockouts of the year with his trademark left hook.
Inoue is going to be a heavy favorite, but you can’t discount Donaire’s own power. If Inoue wins as expected, he’s going to be a heavily coveted fighter for a United States promoter to sign.
DAZN will broadcast Inoue vs. Donaire, although the start time is unknown at this point. The other WBSS tournament finals are Regis Prograis vs. Josh Taylor at junior welterweight (reportedly set for October 5th in London), while Yunier Dorticos and Mairis Briedis battle in the cruiserweight final at a date TBD.