Inoue's accuracy (36% overall, 33% jabs, 40% power) was excellent, as was his jab (28 attempts/9.2 connects per round to Donaire's 27.4/3.5) and far quicker footwork, but the almost 37-year-old Donaire still landed 36% of his power punches and acquitted himself far better than most expected. Bad Left Hook had it 115-112 for the 26-year-old Inoue, who showed he can go the distance in a truly tough battle.
However, Inoue had to beat Donaire, who many expected to "humanize" him, to get the deal.
But that contract was contingent on Inoue, the No. 1 seed in the World Boxing Super Series, prevailing against the old war horse and four-division world titleholder Donaire, who was unseeded. Donaire fell back onto the ropes and absorbed punishing power punches as Inoue proceeded to load up with heavy shots. I have to get stronger.
Naoya Inoue won a unanimous decision against Philippines Nonito Donaire in the 12-round World Boxing Super Series' bantamweight bout at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, on Thursday.
Inoue was bruised above his right eye during the second round courtesy of a Donaire blow.
The judges had it 117-109, 116-111 and 114-113 for Inoue, who also won the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy as the victor of the eight-man World Boxing Super Series. At the end of a pulsating fight of the year contender, Inoue's hand was raised with scored of 111-116, 113-114, 109-117. "He's very strong. I was victorious, but I'm not the greatest of all time yet".
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. Donaire continued his momentum in the ninth round, rocking Inoue with a massive overhand right that almost floored him.
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.
Now Tete wants the opportunity to fight Inoue to unify 118-pound world titles that he believes he had a good chance of getting had he not suffered the injury and withdrawn from the tournament. The plan is for him to come to the USA for two fights in a row in 2020 before a trip back to Japan for a third fight later next year.
On Inoue's deal with Top Rank, Sauerland added: "It's great to see that the WBSS has given Inoue this audience during this previous year and I wish him all the success now and in the United States as well".