Former Heavyweight Champion Predicts Naoya Inoue vs. Donaire Round 2 | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Former Heavyweight Champion Predicts Naoya Inoue vs. Donaire Round 2

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The bell will finally ring tomorrow for the second fight between Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire. The first fight between the two fighters (November 7, 2019), which Inoue won by decision, was named the fight of the year by Ring, an American boxing magazine founded in 1922. It was indeed the first time in 20 years that a bantamweight world fight had won the award.

Inoue and Donaire show their toned bodies on the day before the opening bout (photo by Hiroaki Yamaguchi).

Inoue had three fights before the rematch, Donaire had two, and both fighters were coming into the event with KO wins under their belts, and while all eyes were on WBA/IBF champion Inoue to see how he had matured, Donaire, now 39 and the WBC champion, was also impressive in his last two fights. Fans were intoxicated by his performance, which made him look as if he had not aged a day.

In June, I asked former world heavyweight champion Tim Withaspoon to review footage of Inoue’s last four fights and Donaire’s last three.

He told us.

‘Well, I was amazed at Donaire winning and successfully defending his WBC title in a rematch. I was impressed, no kidding. As he said, he thoroughly analyzed the loss against Inouye and did what he had to do. He doesn’t look very 39 years old.

Inouye has speed, punching power, and strong feelings. He is a complete fighter. He is also a very good counter. Both he and Donaire are first-class world champions. They are both the type of fighters I like. This is going to be even better than last time, and it’s going to be a very exciting fight.

Tim Witherspoon, renowned champion

When asked for his prediction, Witherspoon said, “It’s hard to say who’s going to win, …….

It’s going to come down to the conditions on the day of the fight, the flash you have in the ring, and your ability to adapt to what your opponent is going to do. I give Donaire credit for being fully prepared and in top shape for his career. He’s confident in what he’s doing, which means he has no regrets in practice.

I think the difference in defense will be the difference between light and dark. Inouye, being an aggressive fighter, has his guard down a little bit when he punches. I think Donaire will take advantage of that. Inouye will try to lose with his speed, but Donaire must have a countermeasure for that. If they throw punches at the same time, Inouye will win. Inouye has the edge in sharpness. Inouye is also a better body shot.

However, Donaire has shown in these two fights that he has a lot of options and that he can box without being hit. Who will take the lead, who will set the pace, who has the better endurance, and even more importantly, who has the better adjustability will win. If Inouye goes for the body like he did in the first round, I think Donaire will turn the tables on him.”

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the eastern U.S., Withaspoon, a two-time world heavyweight title winner who still lives beside his hometown, has never met Donaire, who moved to the United States from the Philippines at age 11 and learned to box in the western United States.

Donaire left his native country and lived in California and Nevada,” he said. It’s just a small difference, but it appears to be wider than Inouye’s boxing. That’s because he has mastered the American style.

To be specific, how to kill a punch, how to catch, how to close the distance, how to dive into the opponent’s pocket, and so on. He is especially skillful in the way he moves his head and angles it. Donaire seems to have said, ‘I’m not the same person I was two years and seven months ago,’ and I think he has really built himself up.

Inouye’s destructive power could very well outweigh that, with 22 fights, all wins and 19 KOs. At bantam, I didn’t think there was anyone who could threaten him. But I can’t complain about Donaire in his last two fights: 42 wins (28 KOs), 6 losses…he’s lost 6 times, but it’s really hard to reflect on each loss and build on it.

Both mentally and physically, he got over his last fight against Inouye and came down to Japan in the best shape he could, working on his 39-year-old body. His confident statements about an opponent with whom he has actually crossed fists do not sound like mere bluster. He is not the kind of guy who puts on a false airs. That’s why I feel he has something to show this time around.”

On June 4, two days before Inoue vs. Donaire II, unified champion Stephen Fulton Jr. defeated former WBA/IBF champion Danny Roman by one-sided decision in a WBC/WBO super bantamweight title bout in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. (120-108, 120-108, 119-109). Champion Fulton had won 21 straight since his debut.

Stephan Fulton Jr. (left) vs. Danny Roman (Photo:Esther Lin/SHOWTIME)

Fulton also lives in Philadelphia and is a neighbor of Witherspoon’s. On May 11, shortly after the fight on the 4th was publicly announced, the author attended the Zoom press conference and asked Fulton about the Naoya Inoue fight.

If Inoue comes up to 122 pounds, I’ll be happy to fight him. If Inoue comes up to 122 pounds, I’ll be happy to fight him. But I don’t think he’s going to move up immediately. Inouye is a very complete fighter. He makes unexpected moves. But if we fight, of course I will win.

Fulton wins the fight (Photo: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME)

Inoue’s current hope is to unify the four bantamweight divisions, but he also has his sights set on moving up to super bantamweight. Late last year, Hideyuki Ohashi, president of Inoue’s gym, said as much.

When Inoue unifies the bantamweight titles of the four organizations, he will definitely move to the super bantamweight division. There is no doubt that Fulton’s name will be mentioned as a possible opponent.

After the Fulton vs. Roman fight, we again asked Withaspoon for comment.

‘It’s an interesting card. But Fulton’s sharpness was better this time than Inouye’s against Alan Deipaen, and even though he is a two-time champion, Fulton at this point is not a popular fighter known throughout the United States. Fulton will be incredibly motivated to take on Inouye, a national star in Japan, if they face each other. On the other hand, how satisfied will Inouye be with his four belts? How satisfied will Inouye be with his four belts, and how will he feel going into the next round? That’s what I think will determine the outcome.

Withaspoon, who previously defended his WBA heavyweight title by KO in front of 40,000 fans, also mentioned the turnout.

This time, Fulton fought in a small arena with a capacity of 4,695. From what I heard, the fight money was $500,000, and Roman got $300,000. Inouye must have already made more than $1 million per fight. The key will be to get rich and see how far he can push himself. At this point, Fulton is probably hungrier.

Inouye is a champion who can fill a 20,000-seat arena in Japan. But to do so in the U.S., he would still have to reach the level of Manny Pacquiao.

If he continues to fight in 5,000-seat venues against top fighters in Donaire and Fulton’s class, he can step up. He has a good thing going, and I hope he can find success not only in Japan but also in the U.S.”

Inoue looked in great shape in his pre-fight training. There is no doubt that this will be a great match (photo: Hiroo Yamaguchi).

What kind of fight will unfold at the Saitama Super Arena tomorrow? We cannot take our eyes off of Inoue to see if he will gain a ticket to an even bigger stage, or if Donaire will be humiliated.

Soichi Hayashi’s book on the life of Tim Withaspoon, “Fist of Minority” ( click here to purchase)

  • Interview and text by Soichi Hayashi

    Nonfiction writer

  • Photographs Hiroaki Yamaguchi (Inoue, Donaire), Soichi Hayashi (

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