Quijano: Donaire lost but won a lot of hearts

Jingo Quijano

I have been meaning to write about the Canelo Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev fight (which was a compelling and intriguing fight in itself) but I could not--for the life of me--not write about Nonito Donaire-Naoya Inoue first and call myself a “Filipino Flash” fan.

In recent memory I could not recall two fights happening within days of each other that were as great and as breath-taking as these two.

So please indulge me and check out my next column for my take on Alvarez-Kovalev.

INOUE. Apty, nicknamed “The Monster,” Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) was the favorite entering the World Boxing Super Series having lorded it over the lower weights in a reign of terror.

Proving he deserved the billing, Inoue dispatched his first two opponents in dramatic fashion. First to go was former world champion Juan Carlos Payano in a stunning first round knockout. His next opponent, fared only one round better as Emmanuel Rodriguez was stopped in round 2 in the seminfinals.

DONAIRE. The “Filipino Flash” assumed the old war horse role in this tournament and took a slightly less dramatic path to the finals.

He defeated Ryan Burnett in the fourth round when the latter retired due to an injury, and stopped late substitute Stephon Young, who replaced an injured Zolani Tete, one of the early favorites in this tournament along with Inoue.

Some might say luck played a proverbial part in Donaire’s path to meeting Inoue, but as soon the bell rang, this ring legend showed he belonged in the same ring with the young Japanese champion.

THE FIGHT. It was a true classic as both fighters fought each other on even terns, from the start up to its denouement.

Donaire flashed his old deadly form, boxing and countering well. The younger Inoue had the slight advantage in speed but not by much.

In the second, Inoue started strong but Donairre landed one of his patented left hooks and opened up a cut below Inoue’s right eye.

Inoue took command in the middle rounds where he did most of his damage by landing flush right hands but Donaire stormed back in the 8th and 9th rounds, reopening the cut.

The championship rounds were pure joy to watch and a body shot that knocked Donaire down in the 11th was the final indicator of who clearly deserved the verdict.

The judges all saw it for Inoue but I thought rhe score of 117-109 was too generous for the local favorite. Still, the right guy won and Donaire, as always, was humble and gracious in defeat.

In a Twitter post, he sat beside his sons who flanked the golden Muhammad Ali trophy and thanked Inoue for allowing him to borrow it because he promised his sons they would see it in the morning. A true class act, Donaire (40-6 26KOs) looked reborn and reinvigorated and I hope he continues to fight on and he showed that even at age 36 he is still a world-class fighter.

LAST ROUND. It’s on my kumpare Atty. Erwin Rommel Heyrosa, who marks a milestone today as he turns 50. Cheers, pre!