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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.’’

Watch Canelo Alvarez Make his return Saturday night against Rocky Fielding only on DAZN!

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