Not over for Donaire
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - November 9, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines —World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) co-founder and Ringstar Sports CEO Richard Schaefer said yesterday Nonito Donaire’s gutsy performance against Naoya Inoue in Saitama the other night has opened “many doors” for the Filipino Flash who pushed the unbeaten Japanese to the brink before suffering a late knockdown in a loss by unanimous decision.

“With this fight and this performance, many doors opened for Nonito,” said Schaefer, a former Swiss banker who was Oscar de la Hoya’s business partner as Golden Boy CEO for 14 years. “Nonito will take a well-deserved rest with his family then we’ll sit down and discuss the different options, either at this weight (118 pounds) or maybe, at a higher weight.”

Donaire, who turns 37 on Nov. 16, stood his ground against Inoue, a 10-1 favorite known as The Monster, from start to finish. In the second round, Donaire landed a powerful left hook that left Inoue bleeding from a cut over the right eye and in the third, the Japanese’s nose started to drip crimson. Inoue played a waiting game to tire out Donaire and wasn’t aggressive in the early action. He was content to counter, moving side to side and backstepping. Then, Inoue picked up the pace in the fifth and began to find his range, stunning Donaire with a right hook to the jaw. Inoue was in control until the eighth when Donaire, finding his second wind, stopped the Japanese in his tracks with a left to the body. In the ninth, Donaire connected with a vicious right straight to the face and Inoue’s legs turned rubbery. For the first time in his career, Inoue was staggered and desperately clinched to stop Donaire’s attack. But it seemed like Donaire punched himself out as he let Inoue off the hook.  

In the 10th, Inoue was rejuvenated and dominated the fading Donaire. At the end of the round, he raised both arms as the crowd roared. In the 11th, Inoue cracked a left hook to the liver and Donaire grimaced, circled away and dropped to his knees. Referee Ernie Sharif counted to nine before Donaire got up. As the round ended, Donaire was back trading with Inoue in an incredible display of courage.  Inoue took the final canto as Donaire proudly went the full route with the heavy-handed knockout artist whose previous eight bouts ended inside the distance, the last three in a total of less than eight minutes. 

Judge Robert Hoyle of Las Vegas saw it 114-113 while judge Octavio Rodriguez of Panama scored it 117-109 and judge Luigi Boscarelli of Italy had it 116-111. The three judges concurred in awarding the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds to Donaire and the first, fourth, fifth, 10th, 11th and 12th to Inoue. Rodriguez gave the first six rounds to Inoue, including a 10-8 in the fifth without a knockdown. Schaefer said he was surprised there was such a big disparity in the scorecards. Inoue, 26, took five stitches to sew up the cut on his right eyelid.  He will see action in three fights under contract with Top Rank next year, two in the US and a third in Japan.

ALA Boxing chairman Tony Aldeguer commented that Donaire showed the real heart of a champion. “He is and will always be a real champion even in defeat,” said Aldeguer. “That agonizing liver punch that floored him in the 11th round could have ended the fight for any other fighter but not Nonito. His loss was a great pain for us but we take pride on how he fought.”

MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons said the difference was in the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds. “If Nonito took those last three rounds, he would’ve won the fight,” said Gibbons. “At times, Donaire was amazing and did an excellent job. It was a gallant effort. Donaire still has a lot left in the tank if he chooses to continue to fight. I think he gave it his all but a rematch would not be any different.”

Donaire, wife Rachel and their two children will stay in Japan until tomorrow then fly to Boracay and Bohol before leaving for Las Vegas, where they live, next Saturday.

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