Naoya Inoue vs. Ryan Burnett seemed a likely finalist in the initial tournament bracket after being paired with Donaire , 26 KOs in the quarterfinals.
Then undefeated through 18 career fights, Burnett suffered a back injury after four rounds of back-and-forth action and was forced to retire before Round 5 could get underway, giving Donaire a pass to the second round of the tournament.
It was a big moment for Donaire, who was once considered among boxing's pound-for-pound elite. Respect box? Subscribe to our podcast -- State of Combat with Brian Campbell -- where we take an in-depth look at the world of boxing each week. Tete suffered a shoulder injury in the week leading up to the fight and contingency backup Stephon Young was brought in to face the Hall of Fame-bound Filipino.
Young put up a good fight before falling victim to Donaire's trademark left hook in Round 6. His days as an elite fighter seem to be in the rearview, but now he has the opportunity to deliver a legacy-changing victory against Inoue after a string of fortunate breaks led him to the finals. Inoue , 16 KOs has proven a wrecking machine, winning the WBC light flyweight championship in his sixth career fight, moved up two divisions two fights later to capture the WBO belt at pounds.
After defending that title successfully seven times he made another jump, winning the WBA bantamweight belt with a first-round knockout of Jamie McDonnell before entering the WBSS tournament.
With titles in multiple weight classes, vicious stopping power and an undefeated record, Inoue ranks among today's pound-for-pound elite.
Takuma Inoue boasts and undefeated record at , but has just three finishes in his young career. Oubaali, meanwhile, is with 12 knockouts and is heavily favored to retain his title.
Inoue vs. ET Main event: a.
Donaire prediction It's entirely fair to balk at Donaire's Cinderella-story run to the finals. His stiffest test ended when Burnett was injured and he faced a less challenging opponent in the semifinals after Tete was hurt. But he did hang with Burnett in a decent fight prior to the injury and he did what he had to do against Young.
Cinderella didn't get things done on her own, either. It took the mice and a fairy godmother to get her to the ball. That said, Inoue is one of the absolute best fighters on the planet. Even faded, Donaire is tough, having only been stopped by hard-hitting Nicholas Walters in his career.
Inoue is a special talent -- potentially even a generational one.