Inoue hires 2 Pinoy sparmates as he prepares for Donaire showdown
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Undefeated Japanese world champion Naoya “Monster” Inoue hired two Filipino prospects as his sparring partners to prepare for his world title unification bout against Nonito Donaire on June 7, 2022, in Japan.
Inoue hired no less than world-rated Cebuano boxer Kevin Jake “KJ” Cataraja of Zip Sanman Boxing Gym and Omega Boxing Gym’s newly-crowned Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) super bantamweight champion Pete “Thunder” Apolinar as members of his training camp.
Inoue’s rematch with Donaire is considered the biggest fight of his career, so it’s not surprising why he hired top-caliber boxers like Cataraja and Apolinar.
Their rematch stakes the IBF and WBA Super World bantamweight titles which are currently held by Inoue while Donaire puts his WBC world bantamweight title on the line.
In their first meeting in 2019 in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series in Japan, Inoue won by unanimous decision to clinch the two world titles he is currently defending.
For the 26-year-old Cataraja who is rated No. 10 in the WBO super flyweight division, he is ready to trade leathers with the Japanese boxing superstar. Cataraja was hired by Inoue as his sparring partner for the fourth time.
“Syempre lipay kaayo ko kay two years na since nigikan ko didto sa Japan before nagka pandemic. Karon nakuha ko ug balik nila,” said Cataraja.
“Usa ra gyud akong ma contribute nila sa iyang preparation. Akong confidence ug akong style nga akong ikapakita niya. Dili man ta maka buhat pareho sa style ni Donaire, pero akong buhaton mo dula ko sa akong style.”
Cataraja is one of the most sought-after sparring partners for Japanese world champions. Aside from Inoue, he also sparred with Riyuya Yamanaka and Kosei Tanaka.
Cataraja is unbeaten with 14 wins and 12 knockouts.
Meanwhile, the 27-year-old Apolinar of Cebu’s Omega Boxing Gym is also elated to get chosen anew as Inoue’s sparring partner. This is his second time as Inoue’s sparring partner.
Apolinar was hired by Inoue before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in preparation for his bout against Johnriel Casimero which didn’t push through.
This time, Apolinar is excited to face Inoue again in sparring.
“Basta ako tuwing sparring po namin maganda naman po yung mga resulta prehas po kaming may natutunan pero skillwise magaling po talaga si Naoya. Aside sa malakas at mabilis po intelligent boxer po talaga kaya expect ko na po na he will change styles, speed, and techniques depende po kung sino po maka sparring sa amin ni kj,” said Apolinar who recently won the OPBF title by knocking out Jhunriel Ramonal in the 10th round last April 2 in Manila.
Apolinar sports a record of 16-2 (win-loss) with 10 knockouts.
Cataraja and Apolinar will leave for Japan on Sunday. /rcg
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