As the old adage goes, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.

Nonito Donaire expressed repeatedly in the lead up to his highly anticipated 118-pound title unification rematch with Naoya Inoue that he would employ a much more tactful strategy against the Japanese dynamo than he did in the first bout.

He never got the chance.

Inoue crushed Donaire earlier this month at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, scoring two knockdowns en route to stopping the “Filipino Flash” in two swift rounds.

In their meeting, in 2019, Inoue won a competitive unanimous decision over Donaire in what was hailed then by the boxing world as one of the year’s most entertaining bouts. Part of the reason was because Donaire, the 39-year-old grizzled veteran who has earned titles across four divisions, was able to whipsaw the decade-younger Inoue at times with big punches. Inoue suffered a broken orbital bone in their tussle.

More recently, Donaire claimed he was simply winging it in the first fight, without any thought to a comprehensive game plan, something he vowed to show in the return bout.

But those intentions apparently went out the window last Tuesday once Inoue caught him with a clean punch.

“We implemented boxing [in training camp],” Donaire said in a video uploaded to his YouTube Channel, Beyond the Ring with Nonito and Rachel. “That’s the thing. We had a great game plan. Using the jab, using the feint, using the jab, using the feint, and moving around.

“Unfortunately…a brawler is just gonna brawl. That’s just in me.”

Donaire said he tried to heed the words of his wife and assistant trainer Rachel Donaire, who was in his corner, as well as the lessons he learned from veteran trainer SugarHill Steward – but in the heat of the battle, against one of the hardest punching fighters in the lower weight classes, Donaire found himself unable to execute what he had prepared in the gym.  

“When I was in there, she (Rachel) kept telling me to jab, kept telling me to jab, feint,” Donaire said. “I even worked with SugarHill Steward and he always told me to box and stuff but I just, the moment I got caught with something I just wanted to f------ brawl man. Excuse my language.”

Donaire admitted, in the same interview, that he had never been punched harder than at the end of the first round, when Inoue dropped  him with a chopping right hand in the pocket. Donaire admitted he had never seen the punch coming and was not aware he was on the canvas until the referee began issuing a count.

“I will pretty much say that was the hardest punch I’ve ever been hit with,” Donaire said. “That first (knockdown), I came up completely blank. I didn’t see that punch coming at all.”

Inoue’s win makes him a three-belt champion in the 118-pound division. Only Paul Butler of England has the other remaining belt. Inoue noted after the fight that his priority is to become the undisputed champion in the weight class.