TOKYO – The story had already been written before it was played out in front of more than 40,000 frenzied fans at the Tokyo Dome.

The stage had been set. We had seen the commercial.

Japan’s leading man, the boyish wrecking machine that is Naoya Inoue, was fighting for the honor of his country against the villain of the piece, Luis Nery.

Mexico's Nery had been banned from fighting in Japan. Firstly, when he boxed Shinsuke Yakamana, Nery popped for PEDs. When they rematched several months later, Nery showed up overweight and squashed Yamanaka in quick time.

As Japanese boxing historian Joe Koizumi said this week, “In this country, coming in overweight is a crime.”

But earlier this year, Japan Boxing Commission rescinded the penalty so that Nery could face justice in the form of Inoue’s flashing fists. Koizumi called it “punishment.”

And that’s what tens of thousands of shrieking fans turned up to witness.

Nery had reveled in his role as the bad guy. He knew why he was here and what was expected of him, which is probably why he doubled down.

Last night, as he entered his fourth hour hoping that fluid would appear so he could provide VADA with a sample, Nery told me that the Dome was only going to be so full because of him, because of the narrative.

Then he proceeded to accept his role in it. “I’m the bad guy,” he sneered.

With a body, face and part of his neck smeared in tattoos, watching the world from behind thick black glasses, a black beard and often dressed in chic shirts – think Scarface – the costume designer for the production was certainly on point. Nery looked the part.

Even his manager, Sean Gibbons, admitted this week that Nery would likely be a victim in any type of random stop-and-search program.

“There has to be a good guy and a bad guy in the story, right?” Gibbons said with a smile.

And that ethos, that defiance, was obvious when Nery walked to the ring. He wasn’t booed – Japan was too polite for that – but Nery smirked knowing what the crowd was thinking, waving his Mexican flag over his shoulder as he swaggered between the ropes and awaited Inoue.

Then, a sea of smartphones was raised as one, thousands upon thousands of them, recording Inoue’s lavish and explosive entrance amidst a live electric guitar performance and enough fireworks to sink a battleship. Flames were fired into the air, the bangs so loud that there were times when you could not even hear the audience, which beckoned its hero to act out the story it was desperate to hear.

Finally, there were boos when Nery flexed during his introduction by Hall of Famer Jimmy Lennon Jr. The Japanese fans didn’t like that show of insubordination or perceived arrogance.

And while the bad guys have their moments in the movies, they never get to win. That is not why they have been cast in the role. Their comeuppance is just around the corner.

Inoue did as his fans hoped and, 20 seconds after the opening bell, launched a right-hand missile that had the hopes of a nation on it – but it missed by a mile. No matter, Inoue went swinging for it again. Two times. Three times. And then, as both attempted wild strikes, Nery missed a left hook by a huge margin.

Then, suddenly, as the fighters came in close and “Monster” Inoue attacked, the unified junior featherweight champion left himself wide open and Nery saw a gap.

The Mexican southpaw reached around the corner with a left hook, and the impossible was on.

Inoue spiraled to the canvas and landed in a disorganized heap. Japan held its breath.

Inoue appeared clear in his eyes and had enough about him to listen to the count of referee Michael Griffin while perched on one knee.

The edges of 40,000 seats were filled. This was a plot twist of epic proportions.

More than that, time seemed to stand still. Inoue had seemingly, in slow motion, been sent spinning into the canvas like a corkscrew.

Ghosts of 1990s swirled in the air, haunting a packed and scared-witless Tokyo Dome. They all knew that 34 years ago the unheralded James “Buster” Douglas shocked the world, defeating the heavyweight monster Mike Tyson in this same venue. History was repeating itself.

One could hear Jim Lampley’s understated call, “Buster Douglas has just beaten Mike Tyson.”

“Luis Nery has just beaten Naoya Inoue.”

Silence fell in Tokyo.

Images of that dastardly Nery escaping, hightailing it to the airport, flanked by Gibbons carrying the cases of the WBC, IBF, WBA and WBO belts, flashed through one’s mind.

Maybe they flashed through Nery’s, too, because he flew in to finish the job.

Inoue was shaken and hurt. It was Nery’s moment. The bad guy wins? That wasn’t in the script.

Gradually the fog that had descended through Inoue’s neurological system began to clear, and Nery shipped a right cross and right uppercut, such was his enthusiasm to provide his own ending.

Through the second round, onlookers implored Inoue to get a foothold into the fight so firmly that they cheered even when his punches landed only on the arms and gloves, but then, just like that, and every bit as suddenly as Inoue had been dispatched in Round 1, Nery was down.

Euphoria rattled the Dome. Inoue had delivered a counter left hand with his back to the ropes that folded Nery’s legs beneath him. The shot was all class, with a drop of power for good measure, and Inoue was right back in it.

By the third, even the politest Japanese nationals were invested. They booed when Inoue claimed he had been hit on the head. They jeered sarcastically when Inoue made Nery swing and miss with both hands, skilfully weaving in the opposite direction both times.

The action was technical and tactical, punctuated by moments of crisp punches, and as time ticked by, you could see Inoue looking more comfortable, like he was starting to figure out what was in front of him.

A right hand that jarred Nery’s head back – he was caught leaning away – brought a predictably thunderous ovation. It wasn’t a massive shot, but the crowd was desperate and wanted Nery out of there, and sooner rather than later.

In the fourth, Inoue started doing Inoue things. He appeared to be the complete fighter so many of his peers say he is, and he even took a moment to put his glove to his jaw and implore Nery to take advantage. When the Mexican declined, well, the fans adored that.

Inoue boxed smoothly to evade trouble and then crashed home the occasional pot-shot. He also started to work Nery’s body, rattling his left hand into the Mexican’s side.

More worryingly for the challenger, who remained dogged in his pursuit, Inoue was finding a range with his right hand. Nery tried bulling forwards through the oncoming leather, picked up a warning for leading with his head (more boos) and then, as he proceeded to take Inoue into the trenches and marched him to the ropes, the Japanese star whistled over a left hook that sat Nery down once more.

It was artful. Inoue had almost no room to work, but he was able to thread through a glorious shot, laced with beautiful malice. It had been crafted through a space of scarcely four inches, and its impact was as dramatic as anything that had come before.

By the time the sixth started, we were at the point in the movie when the hero has the baddy where he wants him. Nery was not pleading for mercy, but he was absorbing hurtful rights and looking increasingly forlorn. That first-round moment felt like an awfully long time ago by now.

And then, with his back to the ropes again, the weary Nery was on the (wrong) end of what will be one of this year’s most spectacular right hands. Inoue fizzed home an electric right uppercut and followed it with a straight right that nearly decapitated Nery.

The lead part of a movie is reserved for the good-looking hero, in this case a champion who looks like a J-pop star and who is adored by the fans. Brooding menace in the films only goes so far until, ultimately, the villain is impaled on a spike, met by a hail of bullets or tossed off a building the height of the impressive Tokyo Dome, into the abyss below.

Here, in his final act, Nery was brutally dropped for a third time. If it wasn’t shocking enough to see his head violently rock back, it vividly ricocheted off the top rope and with the rest of his body in a collapsed state and he came to rest – just about out of it – with his top half draped over the bottom strand.

Ecstasy doesn’t describe what was felt at that moment. It was almost as if Nery didn’t deserve to a have such a bad ending, but that was my view on matters, and they were not echoed by many.

That finale, after 1:22 of the sixth, was the movie. It was both cinematic and it was poetic.

As the end credits started to roll, Nery remained in a pile on the canvas and was then escorted to his stool to be reunited with his senses. Inoue leapt on the middle ropes, the crowd roared emphatically and a nation collectively breathed millions of sighs of relief.

Nery, now 35-2 (27 KOs), had paid for his past indiscretions. The crowd was delighted and perhaps even admired his courage. The fighters eventually shook hands and the 29-year-old Nery left to make his way to his dressing room. History was not on repeat, but Japanese fans did reach out to high five him as he left.

Just like his brother Takuma had earlier in the night, Inoue climbed off the floor to retain his crown. If it was a movie, you couldn’t make it up. But you certainly could make a highlight reel from the knockdowns alone.

Inoue spoke post-fight and had his fans in hysterics; it was like watching a live sitcom. He had gone from being "The Monster" to the man of the people.

“I don’t remember anything my dad [trainer, Shingo] told me in the intermission [between rounds one and two],” Inoue said, chuckling. “But that happening gave me motivation. I was so focused until the end of the fight.”

Asked how he was able to turn things around, from that near-disastrous first round, Inoue simply replied: “I’d like to tell you, but I don’t remember anything in the fight.”

Afterwards, top Australian contender Sam Goodman made his way into the ring and challenged Inoue, saying, “Either give up the belts or fight me. Let’s get it on.”

Goodman might be next, but Irishman TJ Doheny staked his claim on the undercard, and he is known here as the Japanese Assassin for his previous successful visits.

By the way, there is a good chance that, having accepted his bad guy role and played it perfectly – including that moment of jeopardy – Tijuana’s Nery is not all bad. On several occasions this week in the hotel, he spent time smiling for selfies and signing for fans in the lobby. It was like seeing a character at Disney World with their costume mask removed having a few minutes to be themselves.

“I personally respect Nery, that’s why I shook his hand after the fight,” said Inoue.

Yamanaka was in attendance, and I’d pay a penny for his thoughts.

The champion, who is now a gleaming 27-0 (24 KOs) is 31 years old and promised his fans more exciting fights.

So there will be another Inoue sequel for this all-action hero who is made for the big screen.

Sequels are often unwanted in the cinema, but in a sport that has been suffering lately from obnoxious behavior, drug scandals and a never-ending slew of unwanted drama, both Inoue’s fans and fans of the sport should be grateful for that.

Tris Dixon covered his first amateur boxing fight in 1996. The former editor of Boxing News, he has written for a number of international publications and newspapers, including GQ and Men’s Health, and is a Board member for the Ringside Charitable Trust and The Ring of Brotherhood. He is a former boxing broadcaster for TNT Sports and hosts the popular Boxing Life Stories podcast. Dixon is a British Boxing Hall of Famer, an International Boxing Hall of Fame elector, is on The Ring ratings panel and the author of five boxing books, including Damage: The Untold Story of Brain Trauma in Boxing, Warrior: A Champion’s Search For His Identity and The Road to Nowhere: A Journey Through Boxings’ Wastelands.