Nonito Donaire has told Naoya Inoue he can forget about trying to knock him out, saying: “My heart is bigger than his punches”.
Donaire and Inoue meet in a highly anticipated rematch in Japan on June 7, with the IBF, WBA, WBA bantamweight titles at stake.
The pair traded punches in a 2019 'Fight of The Year' candidate. The second fight takes place at the Super Arena, in Saitama.
Donaire inflicted a fractured nose and broken orbital bone on Inoue in the early rounds of their first fight, but a body shot from the Japanese star sent the Filipino hero to the canvas in round 11, as part of a pulsating fight which went the distance.
Donaire, who was edged out on points that night, said: “I was hurt, the guy can punch, but obviously my heart is bigger than his punches. I have to say the same thing for him, but this time it’s just different, it’s a different fight, different mentality. But the thing is, I’m willing to go far and beyond to gain victory.”
Donaire has thrived since the 2019 humdinger, winning the WBC bantamweight title in his next fight. Inoue will stake his WBA and IBF crowns.
Donaire says he is in the form of his illustrious career, which has seen him win world titles at four different weights.
“After all those years as a fighter, following the fight with Inoue felt like an awakening, like: ‘Hey, what have I been doing all these years?!” Donaire said.
“I have just been floating. And somehow, some way, I have awakened that fight in me, and I’ve been trying hard since then and I am very, very confident of defeating Inoue.
“In this fight I am very, very confident because of this level of mindset that I have. When I first fought him, I was like: ‘Ok, I’m back at 118lbs let’s just try and push him back and brawl with him’ but this time I am coming back with different kinds of strategies and this mindset I have.”