Nonito Donaire’s legacy remains intact without being negatively affected by his second loss to Naoya Inoue.
On Tuesday, Donaire lost via second-round TKO to Inoue in a highly anticipated rematch that served as a bantamweight world title unification bout in Japan. Donaire (42-7, 28 KOs) put his WBC bantamweight world title on the line in hopes of adding Inoue’s WBA and IBF bantamweight world titles. Unfortunately for Donaire, he was unable to unify the titles in enemy territory.
In November 2019, Donaire lost via unanimous decision to Inoue in Japan in their first fight. Donaire used the two-and-a-half years between the two Inoue fights to become a world champion again. He took 18 months off after the first Inoue fight and became the WBC bantamweight world champion with a fourth-round knockout victory against Nordine Oubaali on May 29, 2021.
He followed up that performance with his second consecutive fourth-round knockout win. Donaire stopped Reymart Gaballo in December 2021 in the fourth round. Those two wins over Oubaali and Gaballo set up the rematch with Inoue.
Where Donaire is at following his most recent loss to Inoue is a difficult place for any boxer to be in. He lost his world title and the road to getting another world title is daunting. At 39 years old, Donaire realistically has one more championship run left in him before he calls it a career.
Donaire could wait to recover from this loss and weigh his options. With two losses to Inoue, Donaire will likely have to fight the WBO bantamweight champion, Paul Butler, if he wants to contend for a world title. Another option could be waiting until Inoue moves out of the division and pursue one more vacant world championship.
Regardless of what Donaire’s immediate future in boxing looks like, his legacy cannot be discredited. He is a nine-time world champion with titles in five different divisions. Donaire can hurt most boxers in the 118-pound division at 39 years old and his career has been one that has consisted of consistency. Donaire has a spot in the International Boxing Hall of Fame waiting for him after he retires.