The rematch between Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire nearly took place a day ahead of schedule thanks to a dispute over gloves and other minor issues.

Both boxers raised concerns over the gloves provided by the other, despite working out a separate issue days ago over which brands would be worn on fight night. Donaire will enter the ring with blue and orange Everlast gloves, while Inoue will sport black Reyes gloves.

Inoue’s team called for Donaire to switch from his first selected pair of gloves to the second pair during the session. Team Donaire then pointed out that all of Inoue’s gloves were unsealed prior to the start of the selection process, a rules violation they were initially going to let slide prior to that point.

“They f--- with me, we’re gonna f--- with them,” Donaire repeated.

His sentiments were shared by wife/manager Rachel Donaire and lead promoter Richard Schaefer, both of whom took the lead in demanding that Inoue produce a sealed pair of gloves at the meeting and not “before the fight” as suggested by Inoue’s team.

The matter was instantaneously resolved the moment Donaire and his team stood their ground.

“Nonito’s gloves came in sealed and packed. Inoue’s team complained and wanted (the first pair) of gloves switched out to the number-two pair of gloves,” Rachel Donaire explained. “We were fine, they are both Everlast and Nonito didn’t have a problem with it.

“Our contention was that none of the gloves that Inoue brought were sealed. That’s what we were arguing about for a bit, that they didn’t have any that were sealed. Then they magically appeared 30 seconds later, two sealed pairs of gloves whereas in the beginning none were sealed.”

Commission rules require that gloves are provided directly by the manufacturer, boxed and sealed. From there, the commission unwraps the gloves during the selection process at which point both teams then test out their gloves as well as for their opponent.

The minor drama came after both boxers made weight for their long-awaited WBC/WBA/IBF bantamweight title unification bout which takes place Tuesday evening local time at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Inoue was rock solid right at the 118-pound divisional limit, while Donaire checked in at a ripped and ready 117.8 pounds.

Also determined during the rules meeting is that WBC's use of open scoring—which is implemented everywhere in the world except the U.S.—will be used for Tuesday's rematch. Both corners will be made aware of the judges' official scores after four and eight completed rounds. It was not in place for the first fight, which was for Donaire's WBA title and Inoue's IBF title. Inoue won their November 2019 meeting via unanimous decision, overcoming an orbital bone fracture to drop Donaire late in the fight en route to claiming his best win to date, coming at the same venue that will host Tuesday's rematch. 

Donaire has since won the WBC title in a fourth-round knockout of Nordine Oubaali last May 29 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The Fil-Am superstar returned to that location for his most recent bout, a fourth-round knockout of unbeaten interim WBC titlist Reymart Gaballo last December.

The winner will have all but one remaining divisional title in tow, with both receptive to the idea of next facing recently anointed WBO bantamweight titlist Paul Butler (35-2, 14KOs) for the undisputed championship. For now, Tuesday’s bout—which will air live on ESPN+ in the U.S. beginning at 5:30 a.m. ET—will crown the division’s lineal king as Inoue and Donaire universally regarded as number-one and number-two at the weight.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox