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Nonito Donaire encouraged by his performance against Naoya Inoue, brought back ‘killer instinct’

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Donaire lost the 2019 Fight of the Year, but sees a path back to form.

Naoya Inoue v Nonito Donaire - WBSS Bantamweight Final Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

There’s no doubt about it, Nonito Donaire performed much better than expected when he faced-off with pound-for-pound rated phenom Naoya Inoue last year in the WBSS final. Donaire would ultimately lose what would become the 2019 Fight of the Year, but the fact that he acquitted himself so well proved to Donaire that even at age 38 he’s still capable of greatness.

During a recent podcast by promoter Kalle Sauerland, Donaire reflects on his performance against Inoue and says he regrets not taking better advantage of Inoue once he badly hurt him in the ninth round, but says he learned that he’s still capable of recapturing the form that once had him rated as a pound-for-pound fighter. Talking about that ninth round moment that he didn’t capitalize on, Donaire says:

“For maybe half a year it haunted me,” says Donaire. “But with the pandemic, I started to realise 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 cost me the fight, but it also caused me to realise where I can be again.”

With that thought still in his mind Donaire says there’s nothing else to do but run it back one more time, seeking out a rematch against Inoue. The first fight was obviously great, so I’m sure most fans would be plenty amenable to the idea.