Filipino boxers

Donaire wants rematch with Inoue if he hurdles Rodriguez

Roy Luarca

ROUND TWO? Nonito Donaire hopes to finish off Naoya Inoue next time.

Photo from AFP

‘The lack of killer instinct caused me the fight, but it also caused me to realize where I can be again,’ says Nonito Donaire as he eyes a rematch against Naoya Inoue

The visions kept flashing on Nonito Donaire’s mind. The time he hurt Naoya Inoue and had the ‘Monster’ on the run in Saitama, Japan.

The Filipino Flash failed to finish off the unbeaten Japanese champion on November 7, 2019 and lost by unanimous decision instead.

For over 6 months, especially during the COVID-19-induced lockdown, the stinging memory haunted the four-division world champion.

Now Donaire has a golden chance to correct a mistake that he doesn’t usually commit.

If Donaire hurdles the challenge of substitute opponent Emmanuel Rodriguez on Saturday, December 19 (Sunday, December 20, Philippine time), at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, a rematch with Inoue may be in the offing next year.

“I had this kid (Inoue) running, and no one makes this kid run,” Donaire said on WBSS Hangouts podcast. “When I hurt him when he got cut, he kept coming back with great punches, but I was like it hurt, but it didn’t hurt enough to take me out. I can take it, this is going to be a good fight. I was really having fun.”

Donaire sneaked in a right uppercut and a left hook in the 2nd round which led to a fractured orbital bone then sent Inoue on retreat mode in the 9th.

“I hurt him, but he is a great, f–king amazing kid,” said Donaire. “He is a great fighter who has a lot of balls inside that ring. But we never knew that until he got hit. I knew that he was going to push farther and I wasn’t going to quit either.”

But Donaire ran short of steam and Inoue floored him with a vicious body blow in the 11th. Donaire’s door to an upset got ajar.

“For maybe half a year it haunted me,” said Donaire. “But with the pandemic, I started to realize what I lacked – my killer instinct. Usually, people when I hurt them they are done and over with, but that didn’t happen. But I believe the last fight (the Inoue fight) brought back me. The lack of killer instinct caused me the fight, but it also caused me to realize where I can be again.”

At 38, Donaire still packs a mean wallop that has given him 2 Knockout of the Year awards and it won’t be surprising if he stops Rodriguez, who was floored 3 times and lasted only 2 rounds against Inoue in their World Boxing Super Series semifinals on May 18, 2019, in Glasgow, Scotland.

Of course, Donaire isn’t taking Rodriguez, who replaced the COVID-19 infected Nordine Oubaali, for granted.

Truth is, Donaire sees the Puerto Rican as his return ticket to Inoue.

“We gotta do it again, that’s it!” said Donaire. –