If Nonito Donaire’s first fight against Naoya Inoue back in 2019 was a classic, the rematch was a one-sided beating.
The legendary Filipino boxer was dropped twice and knocked out in just two rounds by ‘The Monster’ in front of Naoya’s home fans in Saitama, Japan. It was only the second knockout loss of his 21-year, 49-fight career, and it’s as lopsided a defeat as he’s ever had.
After the defeat, Donaire (42-7, 28 KOs) addressed his fans on his YouTube channel and said that the first knockdown was the hardest he’d ever been hit… and that he didn’t even realize he’d been dropped.
“When I got hit, I didn’t even know I got dropped,” Donaire said on his Beyond The Ring with Nonito and Rachel YouTube channel (via BoxingScene). “I didn’t see that punch because I was trying to counter him and got caught. That was pretty much it.
“I will pretty much say that was the hardest punch I’ve ever been hit with. That first (knockdown), I came up completely blank. I didn’t see that punch coming at all.
“I didn’t even know what happened. I was trying to counter. All of a sudden I was on the floor and (referee Michael Griffin) was counting me. I was like ‘What is happening? Are you kidding me?’ Then I looked in the corner and Rach(el Donaire, Nonito’s wife/trainer/manager) said, ‘Put your hands up or he’ll count you out.’ And I’m like ‘Oh sh-t, I got dropped!’”
He would later say that it was “fortunate the referee stopped the fight,” because he would’ve continued fighting after the second knockdown.
Donaire entered the bout as the WBC bantamweight champion, which he won in 2021 by knocking out Nordine Oubaali. The four-division world champ and oldest champion in bantamweight history did not make any definitive statements on his fighting future, but there’s no doubt that his legacy as one of the sport’s greats is secure.
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