Nonito Donaire praises Naoya Inoue’s toughness but says the pound-for-pound No.1 spot is far from settled

LAS VEGAS — Naoya Inoue drilled Stephen Fulton to claim the American’s two super bantamweight titles Tuesday at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.

The conclusive nature of Inoue’s thumping victory, in the context of a debut at the 118-pound division to claim a world championship in a fourth weight class, has prompted debate amongst media and fans alike as to where the 30-year-old ranks in the pound-for-pound conversation.

Is he now the best in the world?

For Nonito Donaire, who fought and lost twice to Inoue in two separate matches over the last five years, it remains to be seen.

This is because Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford still have time to make their own mark Saturday when the two welterweights collide atop a Premier Boxing Champions event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, to be broadcast on Showtime Sports, he said.

The winner will certainly be crowned the best male boxer in America, however, a statement victory could lead observers to herald that fighter as the No.1 in the world.

“Inoue is definitely one of the [toughest fighters] but for now it’s who wins this [Spence-Crawford] fight,” Donaire told ProBox TV and other reporters Wednesday during a media huddle at the MGM Grand.

Donaire said his two bouts with Inoue were “fun” because “he’ll give and take what you give him.”

The Filipino fighter graded Inoue’s power as a nine out of ten, but it’s his “lightning fast” delivery that elevates the type of pop that he can generate. “I rate him at a very high level,” Donaire said.

Donaire returns to the ring Saturday against Alexandra Santiago during the pay-per-view portion of Saturday's marquee event.

The four-weight boxing champion, who has been in the ring with Fernando Montiel, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., Toshiaki Nishioka, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and Carl Frampton, fights once more aged 40 this weekend as he tries to add a punctuation mark to his Hall of Fame legacy.

“I don't really look at how special I am but I go out there and show up,” he said. 

As to whether he’s the best bantamweight in the modern era, and one of boxing’s greatest ever punchers, Donaire said: “I've never looked at what history says and what people's opinions are going to be. 

“I'm just going to show up, have fun, and show the people so they have a great time.”