Inoue defeats Donaire in World Boxing Super Series final

Naoya Inoue of Japan celebrates his win over Nonito Donaire of Philippines after their World Boxing Super Series bantamweight final at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama

Donaire, the defeated fighter this time around, gave Inoue plenty of things to think about but it is a credit to the younger boxer that he was able to adjust his gameplan and assert his own dominance during key exchanges. Inoue overcame adversity on multiple occasions to unify two belts in the 118-pound division.

Naoya Inoue - boxing's best-kept secret for several years - finally had his coming out party in a spectacular fight against former world champion Nonito Donaire in Japan overnight.

Four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire was beaten on points by Naoya Inoue, who improved to 19-0 with the victory. "He's very strong. I was victorious, but I'm not the greatest of all time yet".

"I think I have to get stronger".

Superstardom now awaits the 26-year-old from Kanagawa, who is immediately signed by promotional heavyweight Top Rank in the wake of the performance.

Inoue took control in the middle of the fight, and wobbled Donaire in the fifth with a huge counter straight right.

He got the job done, but it was not easy.

Inoue knocked Donaire off balance with a left hook in the second round. Instead of crumbling like the previous 18 opponents before him, Donaire came back with a minute left in the round and stunned Inoue with a short, left hook to cause a severe gash over Inoue's right eye. In the third round, he started bleeding from the nose. Donaire continued the momentum into the 10th round by snapping Inoue's head with a stiff jab. It was a series of left hands that did the work. He almost earned a knockdown in the fifth round with a right counterpunch.

In the closing rounds, Donaire took a knee after a body shot in the 11th, although he would bravely withstand to hear the final bell.

After narrowly beating the count, Donaire came back to hurt Inoue before Inoue almost decked Donaire again as the crowd went berserk in a clear frontrunner for Round of the Year.

It was Inoue who landed the punch of the night, though.

The Japanese fighter's fearsome reputation and unbeaten record were at risk when Donaire mounted a defiant late assault, but the badly cut Inoue then blasted the Filipino to the canvas to seal a unanimous decision with scores of 116-111, 117-109 and 114-113 in Japan.

Inoue did go for the finish, but Donaire cracked him with a left hook that stopped Inoue in his tracks and forced him to back off somewhat.

"I said before the fight that I'd create a generational change by winning, but I'm not sure I proved that with how I competed", Inoue said.

Donaire didn't win, but he ended Inoue's eight-fight knockout streak. "I look forward to 2020".

On Inoue's deal with Top Rank, Sauerland added: "It's great to see that the WBSS has given Inoue this audience during this a year ago and I wish him all the success now and in the United States as well".