When: November 11
For: IBF & WBA Super Bantamweight titles

We agree with ESPN—this was the Fight of the Year. Since it went down on a Thursday in Japan you had to be a true die-hard to catch it live or even on replay. But if you made the time you were richly rewarded with a bout that was so captivating we couldn’t sit down while watching. If you don’t know who Inoue is, get familiar. Because The Monster is one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world and is going to start fighting in the US in 2019. His showdown with Donaire, a future Hall of Famer, was his most high-profile bout to date since it came in the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight final and, wow, was he tested. Despite a massive age difference—Inoue is 26 while Donaire turned 37 nine days after the bout—the two proved to be awesome dance partners since they gave boxing fans 12 bloody, brutal, and captivating rounds. They rocked each other at various points and, just like Spence-Porter, the 11th round turned out to be something special. The penultimate frame was punctuated by a precise left-hand body blow from Inoue that dropped Donaire to his knee, only to rise a fraction of a second before he was counted out. The rapidly rising Inoue earned the unanimous decision (117-109, 116-111, 114-113), an additional belt, and new promotional deal with Top Rank. Meanwhile, Donaire cemented his status as a legend and fight fans at-large were buzzing after this one. What more could you ask for?     

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