By: Ste Rowen
Naoya Inoue scored a sensational 1st round knockout of former world champion, Juan Carlos Payano, sending him into the WBSS semi-finals and solidifying his status as the bantamweight tournament favourite.
70 seconds into the fight Inoue, in search of his 7th straight stoppage victory, landed a jab, dropping Payano’s guard and firing off a punch-perfect right hand to send the Dominican to the canvas and bringing the main event proceedings to an early end.
Before tonight Payano was 20-1 (9KOs) having lost just once in a decision defeat to Rau’shee Warren, tonight in Yokohama the southpaw was almost lulled into a false sense of security in the first 60 seconds, until ‘The Monster’ executed his game plan to perfection.
The victory means that Inoue will face either IBF champion, Emmanuel Rodriquez or Jason Moloney, which takes place on the 20th October, in the next round of the World Boxing Super Series.
Speaking post-fight, Naoya was in jubilant mood,
‘‘It’s an amazing feeling.’’
‘‘I am very happy I continue to fight like this, but this is just the 1st round, I will have a 2nd round so I will show the best fight next time too…I would love to fight against (Emmanuel) Rodriguez because he is the best fight for me.’’
Also, on the Yokohama card…
Kiryl Relikh, now 23-2 (19KOs), sealed his place in the super-lightweight WBSS semi-finals and defended his WBA title for the first time, after scoring a unanimous 12-round decision victory over Eduard Troyanovsky. All three judge’s scorecards returned as, 115-113.
The matchup was completely overshadowed by the Kenshiro and Inoue fights that followed it but, the WBA super-lightweight champion will just be happy to have come through a tough test. Relikh will now fight the winner of Regis Prograis vs. Terry Flanagan, which takes place in New Orleans on the 27th October.
With the WBC light-flyweight belt on the line, Teraji Kenshiro made his fourth consecutive defence as the ‘Smiling Assassin’ scored an impressive 7th round TKO over former world champion, Milan ‘Method Man’ Melindo.
The early rounds, of the scheduled 12, lacked sustained action, despite Melindo landing a single overhand right in the 2nd round, Kenshiro was boxing well enough to win the rounds and keep his Filipino opponent at bay. Milan began to pick up the pace from round 4, which in turn, brought the best out of the WBC champion. A battle of the jabs ensued, and both men attempted to fire off combinations more freely.
By round 6 it was clear the pace of the fight was getting to Melindo as the Japanese star’s shots seemed heavier and were having much more of a lasting effect on ‘The Method Man’. Then in the 7th, having already sustained a cut to his left eye, the referee called the ring doctor to check over the Filipino, seconds later the bout was waved off and Kenshiro moved to 14-0 (8KOs).