By: Ste Rowen
This Friday at Ota-City Central Gym in Tokyo, Jamie McDonnell, 29-2-1 (13KOs) will once again step away from home comforts to fight a man, most boxers would rather avoid. The Doncaster native, and WBA ‘Regular’ bantamweight champion will step into the ring with the much feared, Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue, already a two-weight world champion in just 15 pro fights.
It’s been almost four years since McDonnell picked up the vacant WBA ‘Regular’ after stopping 52-3 (34KOs), Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat with a crushing left hook, and since then, the former IBF titlist has fought just six times, fighting twice in 2016 and once last year – a Monaco rematch with Liborio Solis that ended in a ‘No-Contest’ due to a cut above the left eye of McDonnell.
In my end of 2017 UK P-4-P rankings, McDonnell was a ‘notable exception for those same reasons. Such a talented fighter deserves to be in the ring more often, but now he has the perfect opportunity to remind boxing fans just how good he is when he takes on ‘The Monster’,
‘Right now, I am in unbelievable physical and mental shape like never before,’ Jamie told Sky Sports, ‘I have a good understanding that Naoya Inoue is a great boxer and a knockout artist…and he’s pound-for-pound, but I can box with anyone.’
‘I’m unbeaten for the last 10 years, and I’m a long-time world champion…I don’t think Inoue has fought someone like me in his entire career.’
Along with the record to back up his claims, McDonnell also brings a significant size and reach advantage into the bout. The two boxers came face to face earlier in the week and the difference between them was clear, but it’s not something ‘The Monster’ is overly worried about. Speaking to ‘Boxing Mobile Japan’ he said,
‘It isn’t easy to find those kinds of fighters in Asia…It’s the first time that I’m going to face a fighter that tall. But it’s the same when meeting any fighter for the first time, there’s always something new to contend with.’
‘I think it’ll be similar to the Omar Narvaez fight in terms of intensity…McDonnell is a tough fighter, but I want to knock him down with one punch.’
If victorious, Inoue, 15-0 (13KOs) will technically become a three-weight world champion, after picking up titles at light-flyweight and super-fly, and the Japanese phenomenon has also confirmed his place in the upcoming bantamweight World Boxing Super Series, assuming he gets the win this week.
It took Naoya just six pro bouts to pick up his first world championship honours by stopping 29-2-1, Adrian Hernandez with a brutal right hook. He defended the WBC belt just once before jumping up two weight classes to take on Narvaez for the WBO strap at super-fly. ‘The Monster’ continued to live up to his nickname by carrying his much-hyped power through the weight divisions and wiping out his Argentinian opponent in two rounds.
The Japanese has only gone the full distance twice, 10-rounds with recently dethroned light flyweight, Ryoichi Taguchi and 12 dominant rounds with David Carmona – who takes on Kal Yafai in Fresno, also this weekend. McDonnell however has a wealth of experience, including in high level bouts, going the 12-round distance on nine occasions, including his two impressive points wins over Tomoki Kameda back in 2015.
Whoever comes out victorious in Tokyo on Friday, it’s hard to envision a bout that doesn’t entertain. Whether it’s six minutes out of your day as, Naoya plans, or if it goes the full twelve, this could end up being the perfect way to start your Friday.