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Gritty Donaire slips to Inoue in WBSS bantamweight final

Naoya Inoue poses with the Muhammad Ali Trophy after ruling the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament. WBSS
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Naoya Inoue survived what would be the toughest fight of his young boxing career, beating Nonito Donaire to win the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament at the Super Arena in Saitama, Japan on Thursday night.

Although two of the three judges saw Inoue as the clear winner, the bout in general spoke a different story.

After Inoue took the first two rounds with his solid punching accuracy, Donaire suddenly came alive in Round 3, especially after his left hook opened a cut just above Inoue's eye.

Inoue eventually recovered in Rounds 5, 6, and 7, leading to some parts of Donaire's face beginning to swell.

However, Donaire pulled off another brilliant attack in Round 8, aggravating Inoue's right eye wound, and in Round 9, he even came close to knocking him down with solid shots that eventually forced some bleeding inside his nose.

The Japanese bounced back in Round 10, and in the following round, he connected on what would be the decider, a left hook to the body that sent Donaire down.

The "Filipino Flash" barely made the 10-count as he loosened up on the pain in his core, and he even turned on the jets anew to keep things tough for his foe.

Eventually, Inoue survived and got the unanimous decision victory.

Italian judge Luigi Boscarelli had it 116-111, Octavio Rodriguez of Panama gave a 117-109 score, and American Robert Hoyle scored the bout 114-113 all for Inoue, who moved up to 19-0.

As he got the Muhammad Ali Trophy, Naoya Inoue also took the WBA bantamweight super title from Nonito Donaire, who fell to 40-6, while he successfully defended his IBF and Ring Magazine belts.

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