"Donaire was a very strong opponent", said Inoue, 26. I think I have to go over [the fight] and get stronger.
Inoue swarmed over the hurting Donaire, who miraculously survived the onslaught that had more than 20,000 fans on the edge of their seats at the Saitama Super Arena.
The punch nearly took the juice out of Donaire, who waited until referee Ernie Sharif's count reached nine before getting up. "I see Donaire as a true champion".
Inoue wins the Muhammad Ali trophy, millions of dollars, and was then a confirmed signing at Top Rank, a massive promotional organisation headquartered in Las Vegas.
But the battle-hardened veteran refused to be budged as he unloaded a fizzing combination in the third, while Inoue was left with a gaping cut over his right eye and a bleeding nose following more accurate work from Donaire in the fourth.
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In the final moments of the round, Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) showed his championship mettle, connecting on a series of power shots that Donaire was able to absorb.
In his last three fights, Naoya "The Monster" Inoue has fought a combined four rounds, which included back-to-back first-round knockouts against solid competition.
The pair were competing for not only the IBF and WBA bantamweight titles, but also the World Boxing Super Series crown and Muhammad Ali Trophy. By the end of the seventh round, the marks began to show on Donaire's face as his right eye was swelling. Donaire continued his momentum in the ninth round, rocking Inoue with a massive overhand right that almost floored him.
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.
The eleventh round had Inoue almost stopping Donaire with a vicious body shot that had him forced to take a knee and try to recover. "Next year and on, I'll keep fighting, I'll [be] victorious and I wanna be the strongest of all time". He won the WBC light flyweight world title in his sixth pro fight and defended that belt once before moving up two weight classes.
On Inoue's deal with Top Rank, Sauerland added: "It's great to see that the WBSS has given Inoue this audience during this past year and I wish him all the success now and in the United States as well".