If a rematch materializes between Nonito Donaire Jr. and Naoya Inoue, expect the Filipino world champion to come in as the underdog again.
But the storyline will be more intriguing, said boxing analyst Atty. Ed Tolentino, given the result of their first match.
Inoue defended his WBA and IBF bantamweight titles on Tuesday with an 8th-round TKO win over unheralded Thai challenger Aran Dipaen in Tokyo, possibly putting Inoue on a collision course with Donaire.
"Of course, Donaire will still be the underdog," Tolentino said.
"But when they meet again, nand’yan sa utak ni Inoue na ito si Donaire na ito ang nagpahirap sa akin."
Tolentino was referring to their bruising 12-round war in 2019, where Donaire took the younger Inoue to deep waters.
Donaire pushed Inoue, who was once viewed as invincible, to the limit, with the Japanese squeezing out a decision victory but not before suffering a cut and a fractured orbital bone.
"Dito nakaramdam ng sakit, dito nahilo si Inoue. Wala ’yan sa unang laban. When they first met that kind of thought was nonexistent sa mind of Inoue," said Tolentino.
If the bout pushes through, it will be a title unification with Donaire staking his WBC bantamweight title against Inoue's WBA and IBF straps.
Prior to the Inoue-Dipaen fight, Tolentino predicted "most likely mananalo si Inoue sa laban niya, barring any major upsets. At sinabi ni Inoue he is willing to give Donaire another chance."
Donaire is coming off an impressive 4th-round knockout victory over compatriot Reymart Gaballo over the weekend.
The 39-year-old knocked out Gaballo with a ferocious body shot that crumpled the challenger.