Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire 2: Fight Prediction, Undercard, Start Time, Odds, Preview, Expert Pick

Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire 2: Fight Prediction, Undercard, Start Time, Odds, Preview, Expert Pick

One of the best fights of recent years is scheduled for its second chapter. Two of the best bantamweights of this era will fall in Japan on Tuesday when unified champion Naoya Inoue takes on WBC titleholder Nonito Donaire at Saitama Arena (5 a.m. ET, ESPN+). The pair first met in 2019 in a fight hailed as the best of the year to conclude the World Boxing Super Series tournament in the 118-pound division.

Donaire (42-6, 28 KOs) entered the tournament considered by many to be well past his prime and having lost fights to Jessie Magdaleno and Carl Frampton in two of his last three. While Donaire won his first two fights in the WBSS tournament, he didn’t make it to the finals as Inoue allayed many concerns about his current form. The first round saw him defeat Ryan Burnett after Burnett suffered a back injury just four rounds into the fight and the semi-final bout came against Stephon Young who was a late replacement for Zolani Tete.

But, when given his chance at Inoue, one of the best fighters in the world, Donaire showed he still possessed many of the skills that saw him win 30 straight fights from 2001 to 2012, a streak where he won world titles in flyweight, super flyweight, bantamweight and super bantamweight. In his 35th professional bout, Donaire also added a world featherweight title to his already impressive collection.

“I went into it with so many vulnerabilities and really didn’t care about anything but brawling,” Donaire said in an interview with Yahoo Sports. “This time I’m bringing everything I am, from a guy with speed, a guy who can counter, a guy who can think and, yes, a guy who can brawl. I’m going to bring everything that is in my skills put into battle this time instead of just going out and brawling.”

Inoue’s speed (22-0, 19 KOs) was a major factor in the fight with Donaire, but Donaire never backed down and featured a brutal right hand in addition to his signature left hook. Both men would hurt the other throughout the fight before Inoue was able to pull out late, including with a knockdown on a body shot in round 11. Inoue would ultimately win the fight by scores of 114- 113, 116-111 and 117-109, but Donaire’s performance showed he still had a lot to offer inside the ring.

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Donaire would be out of the ring until 2021 when he knocked out Nordine Oubaali in the fourth round to win the WBC title, then retained the belt with another fourth-round knockout, this time against Reymart Gaballo.

Inoue’s nickname “The Monster” is fitting, given his overwhelming power that has taken down all but three of his career opponents. During his rise to being one of the sport’s pound-for-pound elite, Inoue won world titles at junior flyweight, junior bantamweight, and bantamweight.

Since his victory over Donaire, Inoue has remained perfect, scoring knockouts of Jason Moloney, Michael Dasmarinas and Aran Dipaen.

Now he’s ready for a rematch with his toughest opponent to date as well as the greatest fighter he’s ever faced.

The rest of the undercard fills out with more matches in the lower weight classes. Takuma Inoue, Naoya’s younger brother, is back in a super bantamweight contest when he takes on Gakuya Furuhashi. Takuma Inoue previously held the interim WBC super bantamweight title in 2019 before suffering his only professional loss to Oubaali when he challenged for the full title. He holds a 15-1 record with just three knockouts.

Below is the rest of the fight card in Japan with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before moving on to a prediction and picking the main event.

Inoue vs. Donaire card, odds

Naoya Inoue (c) -550

Nonito Donaire (c) +400

WBA, IBF and WBC bantamweight titles

Takuma Inoue

Gakuya Furuhashi

super bantamweight

Andy Hiraoka

Shun Akaiwa

Lightweight

Prediction

It was a joy to see Donaire, a true legend and beloved fighter, resurrect his career as a legit top fighter. However, at 39, Donaire is at an age where his body will often not be able to perform what has become an instinct over his long and storied career. Inoue has already proven he has the ability to beat Donaire, albeit in a thrilling fight, and he is still 29 years old and has suffered a very limited number of bumps in his time in the ring.

It would seem reasonable to think that Inoue will be able to repeat what he accomplished the first time around and perhaps without as much trouble. Expect Donaire to be up for it and give it his all. It’s just that everything Donaire may not have enough. Pick: Naoya Inoue via TKO10

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