Inoue can’t wait to trade leather with Donaire

Bantamweight world titleholder Naoya "Monster" Inoue has longed to fight four-division world titleholder Nonito Donaire.

When the eight-man World Boxing Super Series featuring a majority of the top 118-pounders kicked off last fall, Inoue hoped that he would eventually fight him.

Not only did his wish come true, but Inoue will face Donaire in the WBSS final on Nov. 7 (DAZN) in a world title unification bout at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

"When this tournament started, Nonito Donaire was the fighter I wanted to fight most," Inoue said through an interpreter on Monday during the kickoff news conference in Tokyo. "I am truly pleased that I am able to fight him in the final of this tournament. So, on Nov. 7, I will give everything I have in this tournament final and attain the [Muhammad] Ali Trophy."

Inoue (18-0, 16 KO’s), 26, of Japan, who has won world titles in three weight classes, has only boxed three rounds in the tournament thus far. He scored a first-round knockout of Juan Carlos Payano in the quarterfinals to retain his secondary belt in October and wrecked then-unbeaten Emanuel Rodriguez inside two rounds to win the IBF world title on May 18 in the semifinals.

"I recognize how important the WBSS final is to my career and how important it will be for my career going forward. I am very aware there are high expectations of me from everyone," Inoue said.

Donaire (40-5, 26 KO’s), 36, a Philippine native based in Las Vegas, has looked very impressive since returning to the bantamweight division. Prior to the tournament, “The Filipino Flash” had not boxed at the weight class since 2011, and was also a world champion at 122 and 126 pounds. After losing to Carl Frampton in an interim featherweight title scrap in April 2018, Donaire packed his bags and dropped two weight classes to join the tournament.

Donaire stopped Ryan Burnett in the fourth round due to an injury to win a world title in the quarterfinals in November and then knocked out late replacement Stephon Young with a thunderous left hook in the sixth round of their semifinal clash on April 27.

Donaire has been in many wars, but he understands that this could be his most formidable challenge yet.

"This fight is against Inoue, who is one of the best fighters in the world," Donaire said. "To see where my career has been and what people have said about where I am and coming back to the division, it inspires me, it motivates me, but most of all, it excites me. This is where I want to be."

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