Guillermo Rigondeaux Wants Naoya Inoue: “Lets Go Monster Hunting”
By: Hans Themistode
Two seems to be the favorite number of current WBA “Regular” Bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Back in 2004 he took home the gold medal in the Olympic Games, in Athens Greece. Four years later, he followed that up with another gold winning effort. This time, in Beijing China.
Since turning pro, his success hasn’t slowed down in the slightest. He defeated Ricardo Ramos for the WBA Super Bantamweight world title in 2008 and made several defenses of his aforementioned title. Fast forward eight years later, and Rigondeaux found himself as a world champion once again.
On February 8th, at the PPL Center in Allentown Pennsylvania, the now 39 year old Rigondeaux made it look easy in defeating fellow former champion Liborio Solis for the vacant WBA “Regular” title.
There’s a theme building here. Rigondeaux has two gold medals in his possession and he is now a two weight world champion. He now has his eyes set on claiming something else for the second time.
In 2013, Rigondeaux received the chance to face off with sure fire hall of famer Nonito Donaire. At the time, Donaire was considered a top three pound for pound level fighter. The chances of Rigondeaux pulling off the upset were infinitesimal at best. Just chalk it up as another win under the belt of Donaire is what most observers believed. That narrative was quickly put to bed as Rigondeaux cruised to an easy unanimous decision victory on the night.
Rigondeaux was considered the monster in the division. The man no one truly wanted to step inside of the ring against. Now however, that distinction has been stripped and given to another fighter.
Naoya “Monster” Inoue.
When you peel away the bright smile and the unassuming look on the face of Inoue, you will quickly see why he is considered a “monster”.
With just 19 fights under his belt, Inoue has beaten several world champions. He defeated a loaded field during the World Boxing Super Series tournament, and now, he currently has a date with fellow titlist John Riel Casimero with the opportunity to grab the WBO belt to add to his already overflowing collection that includes the WBA and IBF hardware.
Not many are fully interested in facing off with Inoue but not only is Rigondeaux interested, he is chasing down the fight now that he is in his natural weight class.
“He’s an excellent fighter, great fighter. Warrior,” said Rigondeaux on how he views Inoue as a fighter. “But now I’m in my weight, before I was fighting guys bigger than me. Now I’m in my weight, let’s go ‘Monster’ hunting.”
The former two time olympic gold medalist has always been confident in his abilities, so his willingness to chase down Inoue isn’t entirely surprising. As for how he expects a contest to go between the two, Rigondeaux anticipates a chess match.
“Once you start, people start adjusting. He’s got a lot of things that I do too, he’s a well rounded boxer, so we’re both gonna make incredible adjustments when that fight comes.”
As previously mentioned, Rigondeaux seems to be enamored with the number two.
A win over Inoue would present him with the second win of his career over a pound for pound level fighter, which would fit perfectly next to his two gold medals and two championship titles in the Bantamweight division and Super Bantamweight division.
It would be a major cap in what has already been a fantastic career for Rigondeaux. But the question is, when the time comes, will he be able to pull it off?
A Monster Invades The U.S. in 2020
By: Hans Themistode
A monster is a creature that is terrifying and frightening. Often times they are referred to as imaginary as well. It’s because what they are capable of doing reaches far beyond the limits of a normal human being.
In the case of unified Super Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs), he has truly lived up to his moniker.
The 26 year old Japanese fighter has been nothing short of spectacular in his short career. In his first ten career contest, eight of them failed to go the distance. He continued his impressive performances with stoppage wins over Yoan Boyeaux and Jamie McDonnell.
Still, with as dominant as he had been, it was difficult to fully buy into the hype.
Thankfully for us all, we were given the opportunity to discover just how talented Inoue truly is.
A new trend in boxing has popped up as of late. The World Boxing Super Series (WBSS). It has given fighters across various weight divisions the opportunity to prove their worth by staging a year long tournament, with normally the best fighters that the chosen division has to offer.
Inoue was given the platform to perform in front of the world, and he did not disappoint. He destroyed his first two opponents in the opening rounds, winning by quick stoppages. His final foe however, would provide a much more difficult test.
For the first time in nearly four years, Inoue was forced to go to the distance as future hall of famer, Nonito Donaire gave him the fight of his life.
Following his victory over the aforementioned Donaire, Inoue immediately inked a multi year deal with Top Rank and is scheduled to fight in the U.S. in 2020.
“Naoya Inoue is a generational talent, the sort of fighter who comes around once a decade,” said promoter Bob Arum. “He is already a superstar in Japan, and he will be major star stateside in no time. You are looking at an all-time great who is entering the prime of what will be a historic career.”
Inoue, who is already a three division world champion, will now look to take his career to the next level.
“It is a tremendous honor to sign with Top Rank and to showcase my talents on ESPN,” Inoue said. “I look forward to 2020. I’ve fought in America once before, and I look forward to doing so again in the very near future.”
With Inoue successfully winning the Muhammad Ali trophy, he will surely have his eyes set on big fights. He could very well move down in weight to take on current WBC Super Flyweight title holder Juan Francisco Estrada or IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas in what would be terrific contests. A possible move to the Jr Featherweight division would be an intriguing move as the WBO titlist Emanuel Navarrete could be awaiting him.
One option that could be the best of them all, is a future showdown with multiple division champion Vasiliy Lomachenko.
“Lomachenko I think would go down to 126 a year from now to fight Inoue a year from now,” said Bob Arum a few months back in regards to a possible showdown between the two. “That is a great fight.”
At this point, it is just speculation. Who knows if a possible showdown between these two pound for pound fighters will actually take place.
One thing that isn’t speculation however, is that Inoue will be making his way to the U.S. market. Fighters should be wary of his move. He is a truly great fighter that is looking to take on the best possible opposition out there.
The monster will indeed, invade the U.S. in 2020.
Naoya Inoue Wins Ali Trophy Over Nonito Donaire
By Robert Aaron Contreras
The World Boxing Super Series was decided on Thursday and to what would have surprised T.S. Elliot, it came to an end not with a whimper but a bang.
Consisting of no clinches, and no retreat from either man, Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KO) won an exhilarating decision victory over Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26 KO) to claim the vaunted Muhammad Ali Trophy at the Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Japan’s own “Monster” Inoue, 26, prevailed over Donaire, 36, of the Philippines, by a wide range of scores: 116-111, 114-113 and 117-109.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Inoue had the crowd and bookies behind him. But Donaire’s mettle carried him over the distance, getting off the canvas in penultimate round, and drawing heavy bleeding from the younger man. Like every fight in his career, Inoue’s toolbox was on display, showing off a piston jab, and thudding blows from both hands. Though for the first time, the Japanese champion was forced to eat staggering shots. He was visibly shaken up in the ninth period and bloody at the eye and nose by the end of the match.
Snapping one-twos from Inoue took the opening frame. His composite punching a compliment to his trainer-father Shingo. The undefeated marvel even stuck Donaire with a handful of left hooks, mirroring his opponent’s money shot.
In the second stanza, Donaire showed Inoue how it’s done. Out of crouch, uncorking a left hook across his man’s right eye that commanded serious attention from Inoue’s corner between rounds.
Inoue responded well over the next handful of rounds, securing them all on the scorecards, and pouring it on with textbook combinations. Donaire answered here and there with bolting right crosses. The former pound-for-pound claimant also took the center of the ring throughout the middle and late stages.
Circling away from Donaire in Round 8, Inoue could be seen with a sheet of crimson over the right side of his face. Blood from the cut above his right eye made a violent sight. So it was fitting that this was win the war erupted. The round ended with exchanges in the center of the ring. It was Donaire’s best so far, coupling left hooks and uppercuts.
The ninth round, too, was all Donaire. Noticing his man still moving backwards, Donaire tossed out chopping right hand that staggered Inoue, wobbly legs and all. By the concluding moments of the tenth, they were short right hands coming the other way that swung the momentum back to Inoue.
Inoue’s best work was seen in Round 11. Himself commanding the center of the ring now, he sent two brush strokes upstairs to mask a curling left hand to Donaire’s midsection. The crash to the liver made the aging, future Hall of Fame walk away and then drop to a knee. As referee Ernie Sharif began his count, Inoue could be seen in the backdrop in anticipation of another finish. He has after all finished all three of his bantamweight opponents in a combined four rounds.
But Donaire got up, firing back until the end. The Filipino legend was jabbing out of the gate for the final round. Inoue closed the distance with left hooks. And took the closing sequence with high-caliber offense.
Wrapping up the DAZN broadcast, Inoue humbly accepted his prize, and described the kind of adversity he faced. “I think Donaire is a true champion—he is very strong. I had double vision since the second round,” Inoue said. “But I was victorious. I’m proud of myself and I believe I have a bright future.”
Inoue is not in possession of half the division’s championship belts. A third seems possible considering WBC belt holder Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12 KO) defeated the “Monster’s” little brother Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3 KO) in the co-main event. That makes for organic promotional gold, a revenge narrative between Inoue and Oubaali for helm of the entire weight class.
Oubaali, 33, was all class in a points win over the 23-year-old Inoue. The judges scored it 115-112, 120-107, and 117-110 for the the French southpaw, who scored a knockdown over his challenger in the fourth round in enemy territory, no less.
The younger Inoue showed guts following the overhand left that put him on the seat of his pants. All told, without the power to keep the visiting champion honest, the Japanese tyro and his partisan crown were left flummoxed by Oubaali’s quick feet and cool, calculated attack.
The night marked Oubaali’s second successful title defense since lifting the strap earlier this year.
Inoue to Face Donaire At Home In Japan
By: Sean Crose
Rising bantamweight superstar Naoya Inoue, 18-0, is set to face noted veteran Nonito Donaire, 40-5, in Japan on November 7th at the Saitama Super Arena. The bout will determine the winner of the World Boxing Super Series Bantamweight Tournament. The fight, which will air live on the DAZN streaming service, was announced Wednesday and will be scheduled for twelve rounds. “Donaire,” say Inoue, “is to me a legend in the sport of boxing, and I am honored to be sharing the ring with him in the final.” Good sport though he is, Inoue, a force of nature in the ring, is aiming to win regardless. “I will do my very best to win,” he says, “against the legend to claim the Ali trophy.”
Although most analysts would argue that the 36 year old Donaire’s best days are behind him, this is the type of matchup fans should salivate over. For starters, it features a feared fighter on the rise against an aging lion. What’s more, 2019 has proven to be the year of the underdog (think names like Ruiz, Pacquiao, and Pascal), and few would argue Donaire isn’t the most experienced pro the 26 year old Inoue will have ever faced. Furthermore, there’s an “up the ladder” approach to tournaments that add a true sense of legitimacy to their conclusions. In other words, no one can be ducked. When all is said and done, one top fighter has to face down the other top fighter.
Should Inoue win, the victory will certainly solidify the Japanese native’s position as one of the top boxers in the world today. A thunderous puncher, Inoue has won all but two of his fights by knockout. Exciting and highly skilled, the man simply gives the impression of being an individual whose time has come.
Should Donaire win, on the other hand, it would be seen as an amazing comeback, a classic Hollywood ending, where the seemingly fallen star once again rises to one last gasp of glory. Once seen as one of the top athletes in the sport, Donaire lost a one sided decision to the extremely slick Guillermo Rigondeauz at Radio City Music Hall in 2013, and has never been able to reach his earlier heights sense. Still, the man has fought his way to the top of the tournament, which may come as a bit of a surprise. In a year of subverted expectations, Donaire is unquestionably looking to provide fans with another huge upset.
An important matter of note is that the fight will go down in Inoue’s home country of Japan. Donaire may be popular, but it’s obvious who the fan favorite will be come November. The Saitama Super Arena will most likely be filled with Inoue’s countrymen, who will certainly be cheering their fighter on in his biggest match to date. What’s more, one issue that has been brought up is that the fight may be hard for American fans to watch without first losing a considerable amount of sleep. Japan is almost a full day ahead of the eastern seaboard of the United States time wise.
Inoue’s Popularity Continues to Grow
By: Blaine Henry
The World Boxing Super Series finals is rapidly approaching. With title fights in bantamweight, cruiserweight, and super-lightweights, one of the biggest cards of the year is upon us.
The Ring magazine has revealed their latest issue featuring Nayoa Inoue in manga style art work. The cover shows the WBSS undefeated superstar as depicted by George Morikawa, a renowned manga artist.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Inoue has made waves in the boxing world during the WBSS finals. He’s won both of his fights in the tournament in spectacular fashion. With a first round knockout of Juan Carlos Payano in his first bout and a second round knockout against Emmanuel Rodríguez, all eyes are on the final matchup between him and Nonito Donaire.
Inoue has become the first ever Japanese boxer to grace the cover of “The Ring” since it’s inception in 1922.
Morikawa is the author and creator of “Hajime no Ippo” (The First Step). It’s a boxing manga series that has sold approximately 100 million copies world wide. With the series gracing television and video games, it’s a great honor for Inoue to be depicted by such an artist.
“Naoya Inoue is a special fighter to me as a fellow Japanese,” says Morikawa as he spoke with Ring Magazine. “I drew the artwork with all my heart as a fan of boxing and a fan of Naoya.”
Naoya was the first ever to drop both of his WBSS opponents. With only 5 minutes and 29 seconds of fight time, Inoue is sure to be well rested for the finals to take home the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
He faces off with “The Filipino Flash,” Nonito Donaire who is also coming off of a fantastic win over Stephon Young in Lafayette, Louisiana in his seminal match. The place is not set yet but should be announced soon.
Also on the card is another fantastic couple of matches. In the super-lightweight division, top two rated boxers, Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor are set to throw down in a fight of epic proportions. The cruiserweights also have a fantastic matchup as Mairis Briedis and Yunier Dorticos get ready to take on each other on the same card.
Taylor and Inoue Look to Advance
By: Oliver McManus
Naoya Inoue strolls into Glasgow at the weekend looking to steam-roll past yet another opponent in yet another world title fight. The WBA’s bantamweight world champion shouldn’t be pigeonholed by way of his slim anime-esque figure with the 26 year old possessing nonchalant fight-ending aggression. Punches thrown from the most innocuous of circumstances have his opponents fearing their safety from every angle, shuffle and punch.
That ability to finish bouts with split-second precision has been meticulously showcased throughout his career with just one of his twelve world title fights going the distance. Perhaps the best characterisation of his effortless brilliance came against Jamie McDonnell last year. McDonnell was granted the daunting task of defending the WBA title against Inoue, in the Japanese fighters first fight in the division, and was caught almost immediately by a mini-flurry of punches that dropped him to the canvas. McDonnell managed to find his senses but was shown no mercy and several shellacking shots to the body finished off the contest for good.
Saturday night at the SSE Hydro will see Inoue look to unify world titles for the first time in his career by taking on, IBF champion, Emmanuel Rodriguez. On paper this should be the toughest test since turning professional (in 2012) with his pathway to bantamweight supremacy barely causing Inoue to break a sweat. Eternal legacy is already secured in his homenation but this next stage of his career is about capitalizing on the Western markets – trying to break the UK and the United States. Inoue has already fought on HBO as part of their ‘Super Fly’ series of events, as well as ESPN+ and now Sky Sports, so he’s principally well endeared with the boxing fraternity: all that’s left now is to turn that frightening reputation into global stardom.
His opponent, meanwhile, will look to become the first Puerto Rican champion to unify belts since Miguel Cotto (unless you count Danny Garcia and his heritage) and move a step closer to a homecoming world title fight in the, not too distant, future. The 26 year old’s background is chequered having been held in high regard within his national amateur system but only garnering international success at a ‘youth’ level. In 2010 he received second-degree burns across a majority of his body whilst attempting to set alight a pickup truck and was on the sidelines for ten months.
Since turning professional in 2012, having failed to qualify for the Olympics, Rodriguez set about a fairly unassuming career picking up regional titles from the big governing bodies. Indeed, he was proving to be quite a threat within the South American circuit with knockout after knockout against domestic prizefighters – finishes that came as out-of-the-blue as Inoue’s but against a far diminished level of opposition. The big break for Rodriguez came last May when he fought Paul Butler for the vacant IBF title. Butler looked ragged but Rodriguez looked exceptional as he dropped his opponent twice in the first round and didn’t put a foot wrong in the following eleven to record scorecards of 120-106, 120-106, 118-108.
Suddenly, just like that, the Puerto Rican had announced himself as a major player but, actually, in his last contest (against Jason Moloney) he just couldn’t settle into a regular rhythm and his Australian challenger nipped at his heels throughout. What we have seen, however, is a robust and awkward style that means his opponents struggle to find repeated success in a contest. He’ll need that rugged defense to be as tight as taut rope if he’s going to give himself a foothold for success in the later rounds but, with Inoue in the opposite corner, that’s a big IF he gets into those later rounds.
Hometown hero Josh Taylor remains convinced he will be the first man to defeat, IBF champion, Ivan Baranchyk and claim the first world title of his career in doing so. Taylor, the WBC Silver titleholder, has been a prodigious talent ever since he turned professional in 2015 – following Commonwealth glory – and the southpaw now gets his chance to cement himself on the world stage. Despite being one of few, genuine, big names not to have been snaffled up by Frank Warren or Eddie Hearn he is no stranger to the big scene having sold out the SSE three times already in his career.
In his last fight, against Ryan Martin, the 28 year old was able to ease into the semi-final with a comprehensive schooling. Martin looked sheepish on the night, perhaps daunted by the occasion, and Taylor capitalized with a punch-perfect display. Baranchyk, meanwhile, advanced to this stage of the competition with a gruesome stoppage victory over Anthony Yigit: his Swedish opponent was taking considerable punishment and the contest was stopped with Yigit’s eye ballooning up to the size of a snooker ball.
We’ve seen a few rough patches from Taylor since he became professional with him sometimes looking beleaguered but the real learning fight was against Viktor Postol. Postol, criminally written off, refused to wilt in the face of relentless attacks and doubled-down in return with pressure of his own. The Beast from Belarus is reminiscent of, his countryman, Kiryl Relikh in respect of his doggedness and tenacity so is a distinct potential banana skin on Taylor’s record and I expect him to find success. Taylor, you imagine, will have the superior class to keep his head above the choppy waters with the scorecards likely giving him a helping hand.
An “I was there” moment if ever there was one – arguably the scariest fighter on the planet making his UK debut and Scotland’s flag bearer looking to secure the first world title of his career.
WBSS Preview: Taylor vs. Baranchyk, Inoue vs. Rodriguez
By: Michael Kane
The World Boxing Super Series has rolled back into Glasgow this week ahead of arguably the biggest show in the UK so far this year.
The conclusion of the semi-final line up of the super lightweight and bantamweight tournaments takes place at the Hydro Arena in Glasgow.
Prestonpans Josh Taylor (14-0, 12 KOs) will face U.S based Belarussian Ivan Baranchyk (19-0, 12KOs), for the IBF world title which Baranchyk won in the quarter final stage against Anthony Yigit. Taylor progressed to the semi-final after a comprehensive win in Glasgow against American Ryan Martin.
It’s only been a month or so since we knew the fight was definitely set after it seemed Baranchyk wasnt happy with World Boxing Super Series. It does go ahead this Saturday in what will be one of the biggest nights in Scottish boxing history as two world titles fights headline the event.
Taylor has fought several times at the Hydro Arena, from winning Commonwealth Games Gold in 2014 to beating former world champion Viktor Postol last year. With a large expectant home crowd it will be interesting to see how Taylor handles the pressure in his first world title shot and if Baranchyk will handle the red hot atmosphere sure to be created by the Scottish crowd.
The fight could be a close contest and the home support could be crucial to keep Taylor going to the end in a gruelling contest.
🗣️ @JoshTaylorBoxer: "This is the best vs the best!" 🔥
— World Boxing Super Series (@WBSuperSeries) May 17, 2019
The other world title fight will see Puerto Rican, Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) defend his IBF Bantamweight title against Japanese superstar ‘The Monster’ Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15KOs), who will have his WBA regular belt up for grabs.
The press conference on Wednesday would see approximately 80% of the media being made up from Japan showing the popularity of Inoue in his home country.
There has been a bit of animosity between the two camps with a Rodriguez coach pushing Inoue’s father and head coach at the media work out.
This should be the three weight world champion Inoue’s biggest test to date and will be interesting to see how he handles the bigger Rodriguez, who is confident and how Inoue handles fighting away from the home comforts of Japan for the first time.
Rodriguez won his world title when he fought and beat Paul Butler in London last year so has experience of big fights in the UK.
This could be a great fight between two fighters in their prime and a bonus for the Scottish public to see a genuine sporting superstar in Inoue.
World Boxing Super Series will be shown live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in the U.S.
— World Boxing Super Series (@WBSuperSeries) May 16, 2019
World Boxing Super Series add Inoue v Rodriguez to Glasgow card
By: Michael Kane
The World Boxing Super Series have announced Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue will face Puerto Rican, Emmanuel Rodriguez in Glasgow, Scotland.
The bout will take place on May 18 at the SSE Arena on the same card as local hero Josh Taylor takes on IBF Super Lightweight champion Ivan Baranchyk. Both bouts are semi finals in their respective weight classes.
Inoue (17-0, 15 KOs) opened up this season’s WBSS in spectacular fashion, knocking out Juan Carlos Payano in 70 seconds of the first round in their quarter final tie in Japan.
There was an expectation that Inoue would have another home tie, with WBSS having secured a Japanese TV deal to show his fights so the announcement that he will travel to Scotland has come some what as a surprise. The news has already gone down well with Scottish fans and fans across the rest of the UK, with social media buzzing at the news.
Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) retained his IBF title in a tough quarter final bout against Australian, Jason Moloney, winning by split decision back in October in Orlando, Florida.
In a WBSS press release both fighters gave their initial reaction
“My destiny is to win the prestigious Ali Trophy and prove I am the best bantamweight in the world,” said Inoue. “I cannot wait to box in the United Kingdom in front of their loud fans and I will show them a ‘Monster’ performance!”
“I have been waiting for this moment my entire life,” said Rodriguez. “I always wanted to fight the best, and now I am fighting a boxer considered the best by the boxing reporters and fans. That’s great motivation for me, my team, and Puerto Rico, We got this.
“I am going to get the victory. Puerto Rico will shine in Scotland and I am confident of going all the way and take home the Ali Trophy.”
“This amazing match-up highlights the vision of the World Boxing Super Series,“ said Kalle Sauerland, Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer.
“Two unbeaten World Champions, two sublime athletes, are putting everything on the line for a place in the final of the World Boxing Super Series where the Ali Trophy awaits the winner. It doesn’t get bigger than this.”
Jaime Munguia Set to Return Against Takeshi Inoue
By: Hector Franco
The return of one of 2018’s breakout stars will take place this weekend when Mexico’s Jaime Munguia (31-0, 26 KOs) attempts to make the third successful title defense of his WBO super welterweight championship against Japan’s Takeshi Inoue (13-0, 7 KOs).
Munguia was first heard of by a majority of boxing fans last year as a potential opponent for former middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin. Golovkin ended up facing Vanes Martirosyan instead when the Nevada Athletic Commission did not approve Munguia due to his young age and lack of experience of fighting in the middleweight division.
It may have been a blessing in disguise for the 22-year old Munguia as he instead went on to face Brooklyn’s Sadam Ali for the WBO super welterweight title. The Brooklyn, New York native, was coming off of the most significant victory of his career in defeating future Hall-of-Famer Miguel Cotto by decision in Madison Square Garden. Munguia was not intimidated by Ali and made quick work of him scoring two knockdowns in the first round and two more in rounds two and four en route to a dominating fourth-round stoppage.
After the bout with Ali, Munguia made a quick return in July 2018 when he faced former super welterweight champion, Liam Smith. Once again Munguia dominated his opponent dropping him in the sixth round to win a clear unanimous decision victory. Against Smith, the young Mexican showed that not only does he pack a punch, but has the ability to go a full twelve rounds.
Following the fight with Smith, Munguia faced Brandon Cook on the undercard of Golovkin’s rematch with Saul Alvarez in September 2018. The fight only lasted three rounds with Munguia proving his superiority from the sound of the first bell.
Munguia’s opponent on Saturday is undefeated and seven years his senior. Inoue will be fighting for the first time in the United States and only his second fight outside of his native Japan. He is relatively unknown outside of Japan making him a mystery for many boxing fans. The odds are heavily against Inoue to defeat Munguia; however, bigger upsets have taken place in the sport. Japan has seen a recent influx of great fighters such as bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue, flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka and super featherweight champion Masayuki Ito. Against Munguia, Inoue will look to place himself on the list of the latest set of Japanese world champions.
Munguia will look to add another title defense to his ledger. Unfortunately for Munguia, he may be on the wrong side of the fence in his division with the majority of the champions falling under the Premier Boxing banner. The young Mexican’s goal is to one day step in the ring with Canelo Alvarez. Should he continue winning, it is a possibility that the fight can take place in the near future. The two men are both promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
The broadcast’s co-main event will feature “regular” WBA featherweight champion Jesus Rojas (26-2-2, 19 KOs) taking on China’s Can “Monster” Xu (15-2, 2 KOs). Rojas is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Joseph Diaz. Rojas was able to keep his title per WBA rules due to Diaz not making the featherweight weight limit of 126 pounds.
The Puerto Rican won the title against the Dominican Republic’s Claudio Marrero scoring a seventh-round knockout in Las Vegas the day before the first encounter between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.
Rojas’ opponent is also unknown in the United States having fought a vast majority of his fights in China. Xu will be making his second appearance in the U.S. and holds some physical advantages over Rojas. Xu is 24 years of age making him eight years younger than the Puerto Rican (32). The Chinese fighter also has the edge in height and reach. It has been shown that Rojas can be outboxed. With just two knockouts in 17 professional bouts, it is likely going to be the game plan for Xu to use lateral movement to offset any of Rojas’ oncoming attacks.
On paper, the card in Houston looks to be one to showcase two world champions who will go on to bigger and better things. However, boxing matches are not fought on paper they are fought in the ring.
The card will begin at 5 pm ET on Saturday, January 26, 2019, on the DAZN streaming app.
2018 Knockout of the Year – Naoya Inoue KO1 Juan Carlos Payano
By Jake Donovan
Naoya Inoue’s 2018 ring campaign was the model of efficiency. In two fights, the unbeaten 25-year old from Japan needed just three total minutes of ring time and barely two dozen landed punches to stake his claim as arguably the best bantamweight in the world.
Two of those punches helped create the 2018 Knockout of the Year.
The boxing world was thrilled to learn of “The Monster” offering his services in the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight bracket. His entry was contingent upon his getting past 118-pound secondary titlist Jamie McDonnell, needing less than two minutes to accomplish the feat and claiming a title in his third weight class in the process.
Inoue’s inclusion in season two of the WBSS meant a jam-packed bantamweight bracket loaded with competitive matchups as opposed to most of the first-round serving as a foregone conclusion—at least on paper.
Juan Carlos Payano was three fights removed from his title-losing rematch to Rau’Shee Warren by the time he rolled up for his WBSS quarterfinals match versus Inoue on October 7. The two-time Olympian for his native Dominican Republic and former bantamweight titlist believed he faced enough world class competition in his boxing life to where he knew what he was getting himself into in drawing the first-round assignment versus Inoue.
He even considered it a blessing that he and his team arrives safely from his adopted hometown of Miami into Tokyo, despite the presence of Typhoon Trami which wreaked havoc in Japan, causing nearly $100 million in damage.
As it turned out, Payano wasn’t at all prepared for the level of damage that Inoue would inflict on that Sunday afternoon in Japan.
Only because he normally takes the first 0:30 or so of every bout to feel out his opponent did either of Inoue’s two bantamweight bouts last as long as they did. Payano pawed at Inoue’s parrying tactics before attempting to fire off jabs and looping left hands to the body.
Inoue never took the bait, nor did he bother to change his strategy. Circling his left hand around Payano’s extended right hand, the prodigious pound-for-pound entrant found just enough of a leak in his opponent’s defense to connect on a one-two.
The “two” was a thing of beauty.
A quick jab from Inoue caught Payano on the chin, freezing him just long enough follow up with a straight right hand. It was a shot that the Dominican southpaw never saw coming, pitching at the waist upon impact before falling back and crashing to the canvas.
Inoue strolled to a neutral corner before turning around to see that the fight was already done for the night. Payano’s legs quivered upon impact, before somehow peeling his upper body off the canvas as if he were prepared to continue. The effort was in vain, as the lack of feeling in his lower body disallowed him to do more than roll over, requiring assistance from the referee and ringside physician in being seated on a ring stool.
Not since a stoppage loss to Rey Vargas in the 2009 Pan Am semifinals had Payano even failed to hear the final bell in a given fight. He entered the pro ranks as one of the most decorated amateur boxers to ever come out of Dominican Republic, claiming two Olympic tours and more than 420 wins. Even in his rematch loss to Warren—a three-time Olympian for the United States—the margin of defeat was a single round.
Inoue needed just a single right hand to stake his claim as the man to beat in the WBSS bantamweight bracket—and to earn the BoxingInsider.com 2018 Knockout of the Year.
Jamie Munguia-Takeshi Inoue Title Tilt To Headline January 26 DAZN Show in Houston
By Jake Donovan
Ahead of its first show on a new platform, the Golden Boy Promotions staff is fully prepared to hit the ground running for the 2019 boxing season.
Currently in the hopper is a planned January 26 show at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, which will air live on sports streaming service DAZN. Headlining the show, unbeaten super welterweight titlist Jaime Munguia will attempt his fourth defense in facing undefeated challenger Takeshi Inoue.
Golden Boy makes its DAZN debut this Saturday, with its biggest star Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez moving up in weight to challenge secondary super middleweight titlist Rocky Fielding. Alvarez signed a record-breaking contract with the streaming service this past October, a move that was shortly followed by Golden Boy securing a long-term deal to bring its entire stable over after having previously been spread out on HBO, ESPN and Facebook.
The first DAZN show of 2019 under such deal is expected to be formally announced shortly, with the red-hot Munguia (31-0, 26KOs) getting the honor of serving as the star attraction.
The red-hot unbeaten titlist from Tijuana, Mexico is currently promoted by Zanfer Promotions, but entered a co-promotional agreement with Golden Boy beginning with his one-sided knockout win over Sadam Ali in May. The feat was part of an active 2018 in-ring campaign, where he scored four wins in as many bouts but whose rise to stardom actually began with a fight that never materialized.
Munguia was named as an alternate opponent for Gennady Golovkin once plans for a May 5 rematch with Alvarez were put on hold due to Alvarez twice testing positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol. Best efforts to preserve the fight date in Las Vegas were ultimately thwarted after Bob Bennett, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission deemed Munguia as too green a challenge for a boxer of Golovkin’s superstar ilk.
It was a fair assessment, as Munguia—while 28-0 at the time—would have been moving up in weight in addition to taking a massive leap in competition. Golovkin wound up taking the show to Southern California, where he annihilated Vanes Martirosyan in two rounds.
Meanwhile, Munguia went on to become a major breakout star of 2018. Shortly after knocking out Ali to win the title in their HBO-televised headliner in May, the 6’0” super welterweight made two high-profile defenses.
First was his decision win over former titlist Liam Smith in his second straight HBO headliner in July, less than eight weeks after winning the belt. Less than two months later came a 3rd round knockout of Brandon Cook in Las Vegas, as the chief support to the reschedule Alvarez-Golovkin rematch, in which Alvarez won a 12 round decision atop an HBO Pay-Per-View which sold more than 1.1 million units.
Efforts to squeeze in a 5th fight on the year would’ve had Munguia back on HBO, as there were talks of his headlining the network’s final-ever card. His handlers instead decided that it was too ambitious a move, with the preference of starting fresh in a 2019 campaign they hope to be equally as active while growing even more as an emerging boxing superstar.
Awaiting him will be Japan’s Inoue (13-0-1, 7KOs), who makes his stateside debut ahead of his first title challenge. The bout will also represent his first outside of Asia and just the second time away from his home country, the lone exception coming in a Sept. ’16 stay-busy win on a club show in Thailand.
Inoue has fought just once in 2018, scoring a 12-round decision over countryman Yuki Nonaka in their title elimination bout this past April in Tokyo, Japan.
Mexico’s Munguia fights for the sixth time in the United States, all coming in his past seven starts. His upcoming title defense will mark his first trip to Texas, with his previous stateside appearances coming in Las Vegas and upstate New York.
WBSS: Inoue and Relikh Progress To Semi-Finals; Kenshiro Stops Melindo In 7
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).
WBSS Preview: Inoue vs. Payano & Relikh vs. Troyanovsky
By: Ste Rowen
One week on from the end of the super middleweight World Boxing Super Series final and season one of the game-changing tournament, we get to do it all over again as season three, which this time includes three weight classes (Bantamweight, Super-Lightweight & Cruiserweight), gets underway in Yokohama’s 17-000 capacity arena. Sunday’s event in Japan will signal the beginning of both the bantam and super-lightweight tournaments.
Headlining the card is WBA ‘Regular’ champion, Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue vs. former WBA ‘Super’ holder, Juan Carlos Payano. Already a two-weight world champion and 16-0 (14KOs), Inoue has had a sharp rise in the ranks since turning professional at the end of 2012.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Fans last saw the Japanese phenomenon in May when he destroyed seasoned pro, Jamie McDonell inside one round in what was Naoya’s first fight since moving up from super-flyweight, to add the WBA ‘Regular’ to his ever-growing trophy cabinet.
Speaking at Friday’s press conference, Inoue gave nothing away,
‘‘I believe in my own strengths. I have had a good camp and I’m in great shape…I am looking forward to fighting in front of my own fans…I have great respect for Payano. He has good technique…He is a two-time Olympian, so he is very experienced.’’
Juan Carlos Payano, 20-1 (9KOs) is no stranger to world title bouts. The Dominican southpaw briefly held the WBA ‘Super’ belt, currently owned by Ryan Burnett, before losing a rematch via majority decision to Rau’shee Warren. Since that 2016 loss Juan Carlos has scored three consecutive victors including a unanimous decision over unbeaten Filipino, Mike Plania.
‘‘I have the utmost respect for Inoue, he is a warrior like myself which makes this fight one of the most interesting bantamweight fights of this year. Expect the best from me on Sunday.’’
The other 118lb WBSS fellow quarter final matchups are as follows;
Ryan Burnett (WBA ‘Super’ Champion) vs. Nonito Donaire – 3rd November 2018
Zolani Tete (WBO Champion) vs. Mikhail Aloyan – 13th October 2018
Emmanuel Rodriguez (IBF Champion) vs. Jason Moloney – 20th October 2018
Firing the starting gun for the super-lightweight WBSS sees WBA champion, Kiryl Relikh step into the ring with former IBF titlist, Eduard Troyanovsky. Relikh, 22-2 (19KOs) stepped into the mainstream light when he lost two straight competitive, and some would say controversial, decisions to Ricky Burns and Rances Barthelmy, respectively. But, the Belarussian made up for one of those losses when, in March this year, he flipped the first fight with Barthelmy on its head and earnt a 12-round unanimous decision to not only hand his opponent his first loss but also pick up the WBA strap for good measure. At the pre-fight press conference, Relikh recognised the opportunity awaiting him,
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
‘‘The Muhammad Ali trophy is my chance to show the world who I am and what I can do. I am sure that my fight will be great. It is time for me to prove that I am the real champion.’’
Kiryl’s opponent on Sunday is ‘The Eagle’ Eduard Troyanovsky, 27-1 (24KOs) fighting outside of Russia or Germany for the very first time as a professional. Troyanovsky, native to the Siberian region of Omsk, has loss just once in his 28 fights when he was knocked out cold in a shock loss to Julius Indongo, back in 2016.
Eduard waited 8 months before stepping into the ring again and though the wait was long, his return fights were short. July 2016, the Russian viciously KO’d Michele Di Rocco in the 4th round and, four months later, stopped Carlos Manuel Portillo in the 1st, with the same thunderous right hook which he dispatched Di Rocco with. ‘The Eagle’ expects his power to be on show again this weekend,
‘‘We are two fighters who can punch so it is going to be a really good fight. People can look forward to a fight that will probably not go all the rounds.’’
The rest of the super-lightweight quarter-finals are;
Regis Prograis vs. Terry Flanagan
Josh Taylor vs. Ryan Martin
Ivan Baranchyk vs. Anthony Yigit
‘Vacant IBF World Championship’
Adding to an already intriguing card, WBC light-flyweight champ, Ken Shiro fights Milan ‘Method Man’ Melindo. Shiro, of Japan, known as the ‘Smiling Assassin has so far notched up a record of 13-0 (7KOs) and won his WBC strap in just his 10th bout when he got a close decision over Ganigan Lopez, an opponent he stopped within two rounds earlier this year. Speaking to the ‘Japan Times’, perhaps the cheeriest world champion in boxing was optimistic of stretching his run to 4 defences,
‘‘I’ve already taken on world champions and built confidence in myself, so I would like to prove that I’m the strongest in the light-flyweight class.’’
His opponent on Sunday is 37-3 (13KOs) and former IBF titlist, Milan Melindo who’s hoping to quickly return to winning ways after losing a unanimous decision to Shiro’s fellow Japanese champion, Ryoichi Taguchi (who has since lost his IBF & WBA belts to Hekkie Budler). Speaking at a press conference in the Philippines last week, ‘The Method Man’ sounded more than happy to return to Japan,
‘‘I won a world title before in Japan, I can do it again. Plus, I love Japan. I like the fans and I love Japanese food.’’
Japan’s Naoya “Monster” Inoue Becomes 3-Division World Champion
By: Ken Hissner
Japan’s Naoya “Monster” Inoue, now 16-0 (14), won the WBA World Bantamweight title on May 25th stopping champion Jamie McDonnell, 29-2-1, of the UK @1:52 of the 1st round at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan. This is the third division title Inoue has won.
In Inoue’s next to last fight in December of 2017 Inoue defended his WBO World Super Flyweight title for the seventh time stopping Yoan “Yo Boy” Boyeaux, 41-4, of Beaune, France, at 1:40 of the 3rd round at the Bunka Gym, in Yokohama, Japan.
In the sixth fight of Inoue’s career he won the WBC World Light Flyweight title stopping Adrian “Big Bang” Hernandez, 29-3-1, of Toluca, MEX, at 2:54 of the 6th round in April 2014. He made one defense.
In December of 2014, Inoue knocked out the former WBO Flyweight champion Omar Andres Narvaez, 43-1-2, of Chubut, Argentina, to win his WBO World Super Flyweight title @3:01 of the 2nd round. Narvaez still holds the all-time record of 27 title defenses. In Inoue’s only bout outside of Japan he fought in the US stopping Antonio Nieves, 17-1-2, in September of 2017 at the Stub-Hub Center, in Carson, CA.
Inoue has wins over three current world champions including WBA Super World Bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett, 19-0 (9), of Belfast, No. Ireland, the WBO World Bantamweight champion Zolani “Last Born” Tete, 27-3 (21), of Eastern Cape, So. Africa and IBF World Bantamweight champion Emmanuel “Manny” Rodriguez, 18-0 (12), of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. All were in the World Boxing Super Series.
In Inoue’s only non-stoppage wins in his fourth fight he won the Japanese Light Flyweight title defeating Ryoichi Taguchi, 18-1-1, over 10 rounds. The other decision win was defeating David “Severo” Carmona, 20-2-5, of Mexico City, Mexico, over 12 rounds in a WBO World Super Flyweight defense.
The WBC title is vacant. Their No. 1 contender is the WBC Silver champion Nordine Oubaali, 14-0 (11), of France who on June 23rd will meet the No. 2 contender Tassana “Petch Sor Chitpattanna” Sanpattan, 46-0 (31), of Roi-Et, Thailand. The site has not yet been announced. Neither fighter has fought outside his country.
From 2010 to 2012 as an amateur Inoue competed in five major tournaments winning but one of them. He was 13-4 losing to Cuban Yosvany Veitia twice, Iran’s Masoud Rigi and Kazakhstan’s Birzahn Zhakipov of which none of these three ever turned professional.
Since Inoue has defeated the WBO, IBF and WBA Super World champions in the past they may not be too eager to unify titles fighting him. He just turned 25 in April so he is young enough to wait them out or possibly move up the Super Bantamweight division. The four world champions are the IBF’s Ryosuke Iwasa, 25-2 (16), of Chiba, Japan, WBC’s Rey Vargas, 32-0 (22), of Otumba, Mexico, WBA Daniel “Danny the Baby Faced Assassin” Roman, 24-2-1 (9), of L.A., CA, and the newly crowned WBO’s Isaac “Brave-Son” Dogbe, 19-0 (13), of Accra, Ghana. The No. 1 WBA contender is the interim champion Reymart “Assassin” Gabalo, 19-0 (16), of General Santos City, Philippines.
So the future is very bright for the 3-Division champion Inoue who joins two other current multi-division champions. The IBF World Super Lightweight champion Mikey Garcia, 38-0 (30), of Moreno Valley, CA, is a 4-division champion who in July defends his title against the IBF World Lightweight champion Robert Easter, Jr. He held the WBO Feather, WBO Super Feather and WBC Lightweight titles. The WBA Super World Lightweight champion is the Ukraine’s Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko, 11-1 (9), of Oxnard, CA. He also held the WBO Feather and Super Feather titles.
So as you can see there are many opportunities in the future for Japan’s unbeaten newly crowned WBA World Bantamweight champion Naoya “Monster” Inoue!
Naoya “the Monster” Inoue to join WBSS Bantamweight Tourney
By Eric Lunger
Following up the success of the super middleweight and cruiserweight tournaments, World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) has announced a second iteration of the series, including a bantamweight division. Kalle Sauerland, the chief boxing officer at Comosa AG — which promotes the WBBS — recently announced that three fighters have committed to the tournament, and they happen to be three of the current world champions: Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9 Kos) of Northern Ireland (WBA Super), Manny Rodriguez (18-0, 12 KOs) of Puerto Rico (IBF), and Zolani Tete (27-3, 21 KOs) of South Africa (WBO).
Photo Credit: Naoya Inoue Twitter Account
Now Naoya “the Monster” Inoue (17-0, 15 KOs) of Japan, now a three-division world champion, can be added to that list, according to recent reporting by Sky Sports. Inoue may not be familiar to US fight fans; he has only fought once in the US, at the StubHub Center in September of 2017 against Antonio Nieves on the Rungvisai vs. Gonzalez II undercard. Nonetheless, Inoue’s rise to prominence has been meteoric. He won the WBC world light flyweight title in only his sixth professional fight, taking down Adrian Herandez by sixth-round TKO in April of 2014. Eight months later, he moved up to 115 lbs., and captured the WBO world flyweight title from Warlito Parrenas in a second-round TKO.
Inoue successfully defended that title six times over the next three years, and only one of those fights went the full twelve-round distance. Then, on Friday night, the “Monster” went up to Bantamweight to challenge the WBA (Regular) champion Jaime McDonnell (28-2-1, 13 KOs) from Yorkshire, England. The bout took place at the Ota-City Gym in Tokyo, Inoue’s home turf. McDonnell couldn’t last a round against Inoue (recap here: https://www.boxinginsider.com/headlines/inoue-stops-mcdonnell-in-one)
There were two striking things about the way Inoue dispatched McDonnell. First was how he calmly adapted to, and exploited, McDonnell’s game plan. Almost at once, it was quite clear that McDonnell wanted to slow Inoue down by jabbing to the body. By my count, McDonnell landed five jabs to the body before Inoue timed him (as McDonnell ducked in to jab) and delivered a crunching left hook to the champion’s temple, staggering the Englishman. That shot was the beginning of the end.
The second remarkable trait of the “Monster” was the precision of the finish. He knew McDonnell was in trouble, and he attacked with a full assault with both hands. An overhand right by Inoue was well-defended, so Inoue slipped slightly to his left and landed a left hook to the liver that dropped McDonnell immediately. It was the kind of punch that starts with perfectly planted feet, gins up its force in the rotation of the hips, and explodes onto the opponent’s body. It was dramatic, but it was precise footwork that set it up. To his credit and courage, McDonnell got up and beat the count. But he was still in distress. Almost calmly, Inoue pinned him to the ropes, landed a right hook to the body, left hook to the body, left hook to the exposed chin, and the referee jumped in to save McDonnell from further punishment.
It’s not like McDonnell fought poorly. Quite the opposite, he managed the distance, used his jab to keep Inoue’s pressure at bay, and he kept an efficient high guard. McDonnell is a fine fighter who successfully defended his WBA World title six times in four years. And McDonnell had never been stopped in his career. But Inoue is at another level, another step up in class. What will he do in this field of champions in the WBSS Bantamweight tournament? I can’t wait to find out.