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Naoya Inoue beats Nonito Donaire in FOTY contender, wins Muhammad Ali trophy

Naoya Inoue has won the World Boxing Super Series, beating Nonito Donaire by unanimous decision in a thrilling fight of the year contender!

By Dean Goulding   - @deangoulding

Naoya 'The Monster' Inoue survived a war with four weight world champion Nonito 'The Filipino Flash' Donaire to lift the Muhammad Ali trophy in front of his home fans at the Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

The Japanese fighter is no doubt used to having it all his own way in the boxing ring, having amassed an 18-0 record with 16 KOs and destroying the competition en route to the final of the bantamweight edition of this year's World Boxing Super Series.

Not much was expected of Donaire, whose best days most believed were behind him despite putting in some strong performances to reach the final, but the Flash quickly dispelled any doubts as to whether he belonged in the final, meeting the feared puncher Inoue in the centre of the ring from the opening bell.

After a cagey first round, the pair began to trade in the second, and Donaire appeared to match Inoue in part, answering Inoue's fast combinations with a sweet left hook and right uppercut and opening a cut over the Japanese fighter's right eye. The war had begun.

With Inoue clearly outmatching Donaire in the speed department, the wily old champion opted to throw haymakers that weren't missing by much.

In the fifth, Inoue had Donaire badly hurt and it seemed as though the blistering knockout many expected was imminent. But the future "Hall of Famer" has made a career of surviving wars and today was no exception.

Donaire overcame the storm, fighting back and even winning the 7th, 8th and 9th rounds, rocking the Japanese world champion in the latter. 

Inoue came back in the 10th with a stunning overhand right, and knocked Donaire down with a brutal body shot in the 11th. Donaire somehow survived the round and the pair came out for the 12th looking to finish strong. But it was Inoue who came out stronger and fresher, utilising his jab and footwork to take the victory home. Donaire would unleash a final flurry in the dying seconds and they traded until the bell sounded out another electrifying World Boxing Super Series tournament.

Inoue is now the unified IBF, WBA and Ring Magazine bantamweight champion and takes home the Muhammad Ali trophy, along with $10 million.

Donaire has surely added to his already enduring legacy with a stunning performance at the twilight of his career.