Impressive Naoya Inoue enhances reputation with points win over Nonito Donaire

Naoya Inoue lifts the Muhammad Ali trophy after win over Nonito Donaire

"Donaire is a very, very strong opponent", Inoue said after the fight.

"I think I have to get stronger".

Donaire's reputation was well established going into the fight, but at 36 it was widely expected to be a proud last stand from a former great champion.

WBA/IBF bantamweight world champion Naoya "Monster" Inoue, a 5-foot-4½ three-weight world champion who has climbed the pound-for-pound rankings with devastating knockouts against normally iron-chinned foes, is coming to America.

In the final moments of the round, Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) showed his championship mettle, connecting on a series of power shots that Donaire was able to absorb.

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, whose multiyear co-promotional deal with Inoue to bring him to the United States and have him fight on ESPN platforms was announced immediately following the victory over Donaire, told ESPN the prospect of a unification bout with Tete is one of the fights they are interested in putting together.

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Inoue and Donaire had a feeling out process in the opening round.

Inoue, who was legitimately hurt about four times in the fight and bleeding from a cut over his right eye and nose, scored an 11th-round knockdown to the body en route to a unanimous decision over Donaire before a sellout crowd of 20,000 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

The older man appeared exhausted after the halfway point, unable to defend against Inoue's crisp counter right and his eyes began to swell from the accumulative punishment. By the end of the seventh round, the marks began to show on Donaire's face as his right eye was swelling.

The Japanese fighter's fearsome reputation and unbeaten record were at risk when Donaire mounted a defiant late assault, but the badly cut Inoue then blasted the Filipino to the canvas to seal a unanimous decision with scores of 116-111, 117-109 and 114-113 in Japan. "I will keep fighting, and I want to be the strongest of all time". That changed in the 11th when Inoue landed a vicious left hook to the body to force Donaire to take a knee. Before facing Donaire, Donaire had only fought for less than six minutes by scoring quick knockouts over Juan Carlos Payano and Emmanuel Rodriguez in the tournament quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.

On Inoue's deal with Top Rank, Sauerland added: "It's great to see that the WBSS has given Inoue this audience during this past year and I wish him all the success now and in the United States as well".

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