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.
Fight Card Preview: Prograis vs. Taylor
By: Oliver McManus
When the super lightweight draw for the World Boxing Super Series took place there was immediately one potential fight that piqued interest. Not an all-Belarusian clash between Ivan Baranchyk and Kiryl Relikh but Regis Prograis vs Josh Taylor; two of the hottest prospects in world boxing. Both men have worked their way to the final in superfluous fashion and picked up their first bona fide world title in the process. On Saturday night we’ll be treated to a mouthwatering fight with WBA, IBF and WBC ‘Diamond’ titles on the line.
The approaches to their careers have been noticeably different as both arrive with the full weight of momentum behind them. Prograis began his professional life boxing in local ‘convention centers’ in and around Texas and Houston as he looked to build on a solid, if unspectacular, amateur background. Having moved to Texas from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, he boxed out of Savannah A.B.C and went 87-7 before turning over in 2012.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series
Since then he has been developed incrementally with small steps along the way; there was no rush for Prograis, there was little in way of exterior expectation either. The 30 year old has taken on each challenge distinctly ‘over-prepared’ and has consistently looked a class above the opponents matched with him. From NABF junior to NABF and now as world champion, Prograis has been carefully, not cynically, maneuvered with great attention to detail.
Josh Taylor, on the other hand, has substantial amateur baggage following his every turn; a champion of the Commonwealth in 2014 and runner-up in 2010. As a result of the hype and hyperbole surrounding his career there has been a concerted effort from Cyclone Promotions to gatecrash the world scene as soon as possible. This plan was implemented with tough tests scattered across his 15 outings to date; Dave Ryan for the vacant Commonwealth title in his seventh bout; Ohara Davies in his tenth, to secure a world ranking and; Viktor Postol for his 13th fight.
Postol provided the gut check and Taylor emerged relatively unscathed. It was his first WBSS contest which stands out from a performance perspective. Ryan Martin stood in the opposite corner with a 22-0 record. He’d fought on big stages before, on Golovkin undercards, but was shrunk by the reception in Glasgow – Taylor could barely put a punch waywards. It was a schooling and The Tartan Tornado made Martin look like a pre-school tot.
In the ring they are both elite level combatants who are well-rounded in every respect. They can box from range, they can box in the pocket; they’re sturdy southpaws with strong technical knowledge and they can whack. Whoever wins will have fully deserved to lift The Ali Trophy in the knowledge that they took no shortcuts.
A healthy undercard sees Dereck Chisora take on David Price in what is officially labelled the ‘co-feature’. Price steps in as a late notice opponent after Joseph Parker withdrew due to a typically Kiwi downfall involving spiders. Whilst this contest is materialistically weaker it does pack intrigue. Indeed it’s one of those fights you wish had happened five, six years ago when the competitors were in full flourish rather than the final dawn of their career.
Chisora will be in his 41th contest and has recorded two victories in 2019 – a one paced shut-out over 10 against Senad Gashi and an explosive two-round trouncing over Artur Szpilka in July. Price’s last three victories, back to December 2018, have all been against fellow Brits with Tom Little, Kash Ali and Dave Allen failing to hear the final bell. The late-notice Liverpudlian will be a hearty underdog given his propensity to ‘get chinned’, as some would put it, and Chisora has the bit between his teeth. Price will, as he has always done, back himself to do the damage and get out before being dragged into warfire. There’s no guarantee how long the fight will last for but whilst it does it should be a slugger.
Ricky Burns and Lee Selby continue the all-British bouts with a scheduled 12 rounder in the lightweight division. Burns, a three weight world champion, defies his sporting seniority (aged 36) to churn out snappy performances on a regular basis. Since losing to Julius Indongo in 2017, a unification, he’s had three fights; a loss to Anthony Crolla and two sharp stoppages against Scott Cardle and Ivan Njegac.
Selby, four years younger, will be in his second contest at 140lbs after making the jump from super-feather at the beginning of the year. Against Omar Douglas, in February, the Welshman was dealt an awkward assignment with his American forcing Selby to adapt throughout the 12 rounds. He goes into the contest as a favourite but only just with Burns’ increasingly mature performances making him good value for the upset.
Continental success is on offer for Lawrence Okolie as he challenges EBU champion Yves Ngabu. Okolie, 13-0, has shaken off the ‘hugger’ reputation that precluded him in 2018 with three emphatic stoppage victories this year. Unlike stablemate Ted Cheeseman this European adventure comes after a significant period of domestic challenges; four victories over British fighters in title bouts. That extended experience should bode well and his awkward style will always pose questions.
He’ll be facing an experienced champion with Ngabu claiming the European title in 2017. His title reign has seen two stoppages – Tomas Lodi and Geoffrey Battelo the challengers – and a points win over Micki Nielson. For eight years Ngabu has been boxing professionally and his experience shows – he’s incredibly hard to bog down. There seems to always be a presumption when British fighters step up to European level that ‘they just will’ be successful; don’t count your chickens just yet.
Is This the Last Season of the World Boxing Super Series?
By: Shane Willoughby
Since Kalle Sauerland launched the World Boxing Super Series we have seen some fantastic fights. It has created unified champions, undisputed champions and fight fans have got what they have always wished for, the best fighting the best.
The entire Cruiserweight division would have been null and void of attention and coverage if it wasn’t for the tournament.
But with all that said their financial problems over the past few years are no secret. The series have struggled to maintain what is obviously an extremely high budget.
Last year there was a massive pause on the tournament, and allegedly many fighters from this season hadn’t been paid. It appeared that the World Boxing Super Series may have gone bust.
However, when DAZN launched they quickly added the series to their platform, which meant they received a flood of money and they were able to keep the series going.
Since then we have seen this season continue with the Cruiserweight, Bantamweight and Light Welterweight division. The final for all of those divisions will take place between October and December.
So it appeared all the WBSS financial situations where over, and when there were rumours going around that Sergey Kovalev was looking to join the next season, things were looking bright.
However, recently Regis Prograis and his team filled a lawsuit against the organisation, as the organisation have allegedly failed to live up to the contract.
The lawsuit has now been drop and the fight between Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis is now on but, there are quite a few signs of turbulence once again.
It wouldn’t be unrealistic to think that Prograis issues were to do with money. Because let’s be honest the fight between Prograis and Taylor wouldn’t have happened unless Sky Sports and Matchroom didn’t put the money up.
Without that fight going on a Matchroom card, the final of the WBSS at super lightweight wouldn’t have happened. Whilst that fight is now safe and secure what about the future fights.
Eddie Hearn and Adam Smith can’t keep saving the WBSS and putting their fights on Matchroom cards. Or can they? Maybe Kalle Sauerland and Hearn go into business together because they do have a great relationship and it’s hard to see how the WBSS continues without the backing of a major promotional company.
However, if that doesn’t happen it’s hard to see how the series continues with their ever-present problem with money. This will be a shame because they have done fantastic for boxing and the sport needs a tournaments like this.
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.
Kalle Sauerland: The IBF Belt Will be Vacant for this Series
By: Shane Willoughby
Ahead of Saturday’s WBSS Semi-final clash between Yunier Dorticos and Andrew Tabiti, Kalle Sauerland added some insight at the press conference to exactly what is happening with the IBF belt.
With Tabiti ranked number 1 and Dorticos number 2 with the IBF and Usyk obviously moving to heavyweight, the belt being available for this bout makes perfect sense. However, there has been no word from either the governing body nor Usyk about him relinquishing his title.
“We have applied for the full world championship, the current status is that we’re waiting to here back, we should here by Saturday”. Sauerland added “in a logical world there is no reason why it can’t happen, it should happen and it will happen. The question is whether it’s now or for the final.”
To be honest its difficult to see what the hold up is. There is no chance Usyk will be making any defences of his belt and both Dorticos and Tabiti are the next in line for a shot at the title.
It’s not usual for the IBF to take so long in freeing up their belts. They stripped Tyson Fury of his IBF belt before he even realised he won it.
“The WBO and WBC have already gone ahead and we expect the IBF to follow suit but we have to wait for all the formalities of it” Kalle Sauerland stated.
The promoter brought up the fact that Usyk vacated his other belt. But look how long it took him to finally give them. There could have been 5 new world champions between now and the Ukrainians last title defence.
Mr Sauerland and his team could be waiting until next year if they are waiting for Usyk to vacate the belt. But hopefully the IBF come to their senses and make the title available for Saturday’s clash.
And if the governing body does what it’s suppose to, it makes Saturday’s clash even more interesting. Is Dorticos going to become a two time world champion, or is Andrew Tabiti going to be returning with the strap.
Kalle Sauerland: The Judges Will Have No Favoritism Towards Briedis
By: Shane Willoughby
Ahead of Saturday’s WBSS semi final between Glowacki and Briedis for the WBO and WBC Cruiserweight titles, German promoter Kalle Saurland, is confident the judges won’t be in favour of the home fighter.
Mairis Briedis is a national hero in Latvia; the biggest sports icon in the country. So it is no surprise that the question of bias towards him is brought up, especially as the fights in his home town. However, Saurland stressed that the fight will be completely impartial.
“The officials are not from Latvia. The ring might be in Latvia, but the ring is a ring and as Usyk showed he faught three times away from home in the first one [WBSS]” as confirmed by Saurland.
Whilst it is difficult to believe that judges can be impartial especially when watching modern boxing, Mr Saurland makes a very strong point especially, when Usyk won a close points decision against the Latvian in his backyard.
“The biggest fight that he [Glowacki] has made in my opinion was against Marco Huck and that was also not in Poland, so he shown that he can travel” added Saurland.
Whilst all those points maybe true, it will be interesting to see how well the judges do, when the home supporters are cheering for their guy. Will they be inclined to give any close decision to the pre fight favourite and potential cash cow in the series.
Mairis Briedis is the only fighter who can potentially sell out a venue in a country and is the pre – tournament favourite. In addition to that, the former WBC champion got a favourable decision in his last fight against Noel Gevor.
Many thought that Briedis lost that fight and whilst the fight wasn’t in Latvia, the WBSS couldn’t afford for their only crowd puller to come into the competition off a loss.
All of the speculation and conspiracies are unnecessary and probably carries little substance or truth. If the promoter says a fight will be fair then that is exactly what will happen. When have you ever seen an untruthful boxing promoter?
WBSS Semifinals Preview: Briedis-Glowacki and Dorticos-Tabiti
By Robert Aaron Contreras
It will be an earlier Saturday than usual for fight fans. The semifinals of the second cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series kicks off on DAZN at 2 p.m. ET.
Two matchups will decide the tournament finale as Mairis Briedis hosts the rest of the field from his backyard in Riga, Latvia on June 15. The hometown man battles former world champion Krzysztof Glowacki. And another of the division’s sharpshooters, Yuniel Dorticos meets the undefeated Andrew Tabiti.
All four men are rated among the best in the world, carrying on the tradition of intense matchmaking that has in recent memory defined these most courageous competitors.
Mairis Briedis (25-1, 18 KO) vs. Krzysztof Glowacki (31-1, 19 KO)
This matchup may only technically be the semifinals, but this particular clash could decide who for the time being is the premier fighter in the class. Last season’s WBSS finalists, Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev, are both set for the land of heavyweights, leaving the WBC and WBO belts up for grabs between Briedis and Glowacki.
Briedis, 35, once held that WBC title. In 2017, he went over to Germany to beat out Marco Huck for the green strap. The Latvian bruiser proved he was more than just a puncher, hardly dropping a round over the championship distance. He became just the second cruiser to defeat Huck at the weight in a decade.
Briedis also undoubtedly gave Usyk the tightest fight of the Ukrainian’s career. And his collection of knockouts is incredible: blowing away a sizable, rough-and-rumble cruiser like Simon Vallily; the physical specimen Olanrewaju Durodola, and lighting up heavyweight Manuel Charr with a single shot—walking backwards and giving up 30 pounds, no less.
Rated No. 1 in the world by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, his last two contests have not been so impressive. In fact, save for a competitive outing against Usyk, Briedis has not looked all that elite since outboxing Huck.
Last time out, Briedis was dealt with an apparent arm injury on his righthand side opposite Noel Gevor. The underdog took advantage and was all over Briedis for 12 rounds. The slippery German transplant touched his man up and down at the end of a rangy, pawing jab and awkward lateral movement. The unanimous decision Briedis received did not go over well on social media.
Gevor though is one of the most underrated boxers around, having been on the wrong end of another set of bad scores against Krzysztof “Diablo” Wlodarczyk. But that does not explain why just before that, Briedis could not get out of first gear in his fight against an unheralded bit player like Brandon Deslaurier.
Over 10 rounds with Deslaurier, Briedis shut out the Frenchman but was lackadaisical throughout. Following his first ever loss, it wasn’t held against him. He did not have that excuse when he met Mike Perez just before that. The pride and joy of Latvia may have a terrible habit of fighting down (or up) to his opponents.
Glowacki, 32, shares a couple common opponents. After all, in the 200-pound division, the créme de la créme are bound to meet each other.
For one, Glowacki also lost to Usyk, giving up his WBO strap in the process. He picked up the alphabet trinket from Huck the year prior in a barnburning affair. The Polish warrior defended the title once, turning away former champion Steve Cunningham. The exhilarating American would touch the canvas four times en route to a clear-cut decision loss to the visiting Glowacki.
Glowacki rattled off five straights victories since that loss to Usyk. Most recently, in the quarterfinals he overpowered Maxim Vlasov, who is equally a terrifying puncher, wining another decision.
Now as the division undergoes transition, Briedis and Glowacki have a chance to separate themselves from the pack. All it could take is one punch.
Yuniel Dorticos (23-1, 21 KO) vs. Andrew Tabiti (17-0, 13 KO)
From the opposite side of the bracket, Cuba’s own “KO Doctor” Dorticos meets Tabiti, from Las Vegas.
Dorticos, 33, has a real reputation for turning in violent slugfests. Though last outing against Mateusz Masternak did not fit the bill, Masternak has a way of sucking the life out of a fight. Dorticos still out-dueled the perennial contender, who is always a difficult out.
As part of the first WBSS tournament, Dorticos was pushed as far as a man can be, hammering away at Gassiev, and receiving it back just as harshly for almost a complete 12 rounds until a volley of right hands sent him through the ropes.
Never one to back down from a massive puncher, Dorticos slaughtered Dmitry Kudryashov in just two rounds. And before that, ditched the warmongering Youri Kalenga in a brutal 10 rounds. It is a division that allows for few easy touches.
Tabiti, though, unlike most of the blue-collar field, does have ritzy promotional backing behind him. Partnered with Mayweather Promotions, the 29-year-old American trains regularly with Floyd Mayweather Sr. And it shows, utilizing that calculated, “Money” Mayweather approach in the ring. But the reserved style has come close to backfiring.
In Tabiti’s previous bout, he was lucky to escape with a points win over the little known Ruslan Fayfer. The Russian journeyman matched Tabiti in output and was on his heels until the final bell.
All told, the work at the Mayweather Gym has helped Tabiti remain undefeated, served a gradual rise in competition from fellow upstarts (Keith Tapia) and gatekeepers (Lateef Kayode) to former champions (Steve Cunningham) and now the biggest test of his career in Dorticos.
The IBF championship is on the line, and bigger yet is the tourney finale for the Muhammad Ali trophy, which represents something more rare than the cash prize of millions and millions of dollars: the helm of the entire division.
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 Semi Finals Results: Prograis Stops Relikh, Donaire Shows Off Power
By: William Holmes
The semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series was held tonight at the Cajundom in Lafayette, Louisiana. The main event of the evening was between Regis Prograis and Kiryl Relikh in the Super Lightweight Division. The co-main event was between Nonito Donaire and Stephon Young in the Bantamweight Division.
Zolani Tete was originally scheduled to face Donaire, but an injury to his right shoulder forced him to withdraw. Stephen Young stepped in to face Donaire.
The co-main event was between Nonito Donaire (39-5) and Stephen Young (18-1-3) in the semifinals of the WBSS Bantamweight Tournament.
Donaire, the taller fighter, pawed at Young with his jab as he circled towards Donaire right hand. Donaire found a home for his check left hook in the opening round, and did not appear to be bothered by the power of young.
Donaire continued to walk Young down in the second and third rounds, but developed a small mouse under his left eye from some of the shots of Young. Donaire had Young stunned in the third round with a straight right hand.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Young was backing up for most of the fourth and fifth rounds and had blood coming from his nose from the strong shots of Donaire. Young was able to land some counter punches in the sixth round, but Donaire was landing first most of the time.
The end came in the seventh round when Donaire landed a vicious left hook that sent Young crashing to the mat and unable to continue.
Nonito Donaire wins by knockout at 2:37 of the seventh round.
The main event was between Regis Prograis (23-0) and Kiryl Relikh (23-2) in the semifinals of the WBSS Super Lightweight Tournament..
Prograis, a southpaw, showed good upper body movement in the opening round and forced Relikh to miss most of his combinations. Prograis connected with a hard left to the body that caused Relikh to turn around and get cracked with another shot as he went down.
Relikh was able to get up survive the opening round.
Prograis continued his assault on Relikh and wasn’t phased by his power in the second. Prograis opened up a cut on the bridge of Relikh’s nose during the second, but was stung with a punch by Relikh after the the ringside bell signaled the end of the round.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Prograis looked recovered by the third round and pummeled Relikh in the third and fourth rounds. Relikh’s attempts at combinations hit nothing but air as Prograis upper body movement made him a very elusive target.
Prograis dominated the fifth round, and when Relikh walked back to his corner he was warned that they may stop the fight if he didn’t show more.
Prograis opened up the sixth round with a straight left followed up with some thudding shots to the body that hard Relikh hurt again. A few more thudding power shots forced Relikh’s corner to follow through with their warnings and stop the fight.
Regis Prograis wins with an impressive TKO at 1:36 of the sixth round.
WBSS2 News: Diaz Quells Fears of Baranchyk Dropout
By: Ste Rowen
Pedro Diaz, famed trainer of IBF super-lightweight champion and World Boxing Super Series semi-finalist Ivan Baranchyk, reassured fans of his fighter’s status in the tournament when he spoke in a press release on Friday,
‘‘The preparations are going really excellent…Baranchyk is a very dedicated athlete and is going through a very good camp with good sparring partners.’’
Despite multiple reports from ESPN of the Belarussian deciding to move on from the tournament over a pay dispute, the WBSS announced a date and location (18th May at the SSE Hydro, Glasgow) for the bout vs. Josh Taylor, which will also be the date and venue for Naoya Inoue’s bantamweight semi vs. another IBF champion, Emmanuel Rodriguez.
Diaz went on to say,
‘‘Some boxers are tired when the weekend comes but not Baranchyk. He is unstoppable. His only focus is his training and his future.
Taylor is a great boxer, he is one of the best in the division and he has a good team around him, but we are very confident, and people will see why he is called The Beast.
We are not going for the KO. We always aim to win all twelve rounds and we know Baranchyk can keep every round a very high pace.’’
The second super-lightweight semi-final between Regis Prograis and Kiryl Relikh is set for 27th April in the US, with the venue to be confirmed. The bantamweight final four bout between Nonito Donaire and Zolani Tete will also be on the April card.
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.”
The Second Series of the Cruiserweight WBSS Proves Belts Matter
By: Ste Rowen
There we were, now here we are. This time last year Yunier Dorticos had KO’d an unbeaten Kudryashov, Mairis Briedis had bored us through twelve rounds against Mike Perez, Murat Gassiev had cut Wlodarczyk down with a body shot that could be felt through the TV screen and Aleksandr Usyk had dealt with a boisterous Marco Huck.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Hand on heart right now, could you say for definite whether there had been a knockout in the quarter-finals of the second series of cruiserweights in the World Boxing Super Series? Did you even know the cruiserweights were in the second series?
The problem is belts. As beautiful as it is to see one man draped in every single piece of boxing jewellery, as in the case of Usyk, the lack of belts or obvious rewards in the WBSS cruiserweight fights this year is so evident and is killing the hype.
So far this season big fights have been made and completed. Former WBC titlist and first season Super Series semi-finalist, Mairis Briedis has decisioned Noel Mikaeljan, former WBO champ, Krzysztof Glowacki dominated the Russian, Maksim Vlasov, Andrew ‘The Beast’ Tabiti, for all his talent, bored an Ekaterinburg crowd to a drab 12-round victory over Ruslan Fayfer and in the best of the bouts, Yunier Dorticos of Cuba slugged it out with former European champion, Mateusz Masternak.
The semi-finals are currently, Dorticos vs. Tabiti and Briedis vs. Glowacki, set to take place in early 2019. For the boxing purist, these are two exceptional fights to be made in a division living in the shadow of the Ukrainian supremo that is Usyk, who recently finished his ‘Fighter of the Year’ 2018 with a knockout of hopeful, Tony Bellew; but the 200lb limit division, and the second series of the Super Series is still steeped in talent even without the undisputed champ, and yet without the glitter on show such as, the WBC belt Briedis used to hold, or the WBO that Glowacki was once the champion of, the show is just lacking that key element that fans come out for, or watch on tv to see – The immediate reward. A champion lifting aloft a recognised, and respected title at the end of a fight.
For now, casual fans will overlook the second season of cruiserweights unless they’re on the same card as say, the bantamweight-semi-final of the newly crowned, WBA champion Nonito Donaire vs. WBO titlist, Zolani Tete. Maybe, by the cruiserweight’s final, there will be vacant belts left behind by Usyk moving up to the heavyweight division, but the keyword is ‘vacant’. And maybe it won’t matter that history will show the belts as vacant, but that was the beauty of the first series, and the perfection that lies in the bantamweight version of the Super Series, a feeling of finality. That when the final comes around and is won and lost, the man who lifts the Muhammad Ali Trophy above their head is actually worthy of having their name next to ‘The Greatest’. The current feeling with this season of cruiserweights is that this isn’t the case. Let’s hope for at least a knockdown in the semi-finals.
WBSS on DAZN Preview: Briedis vs. Mikaelian, Glowacki vs. Vlasov
By: Hector Franco
This weekend at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois the World Boxing Super Series will be in full effect with the quarterfinals of the Cruiserweight division portion of the tournament. In the main event, Latvia’s Mairis Briedis (24-1, 18 KOs) will be taking on Germany’s Noel Mikaelian (23-1, 10 KOs) for the WBC cruiserweight diamond belt. Join DAZN free for 30 days and live-stream fight night anywhere!
Fans may remember Briedis for his stint in the first season of the World Boxing Super Series. At the time of the tournament, Briedis was the WBC cruiserweight champion winning the vacant title from former cruiserweight champion Marco Huck in early 2017. Entering the tournament, Briedis was considered one of the tournament favorites including Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev. In the first round, Briedis won a clear unanimous decision over former heavyweight contender Mike Perez. The Latvian cruiserweight would then go on to face the eventual winner of the tournament in Usyk. Looking back at the level of dominance Usyk has displayed thus far throughout his career, Briedis was able to give the Ukrainian his toughest test falling short in a close majority decision loss.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Briedis’ ability to give one of the best fighters in the sport a run for their money makes him this year’s tournament favorite this season. Briedis’ opponent, Noel Mikaelian, is not well known in the United States; however, his only defeat came at the hands of Poland’s Krzysztof Wlodarczyk who also participated in last season’s cruiserweight tournament. What will be detrimental to Mikaelian is that he has been inactive for the last 14 months with his last victory coming in September of 2017 against Isiah Thomas. The fight with Briedis will be Mikaelian’s first time-fighting in the United States and just the second time for the Latvian fighter.
For a first-round opponent, it may not get any tougher than having to face Briedis. For that reason, he will be the heavy favorite to advance to the semi-finals.
The main co-feature fight will be another quarterfinal tournament bout in the cruiserweight division featuring former WBO cruiserweight champion Krzysztof Glowacki (30-1, 19 KOs) taking on Russia’s Maksim Vlasov (42-2, 25 KOs). Glowacki is best known for his exciting, action-packed style that has provided fans with some of the best cruiserweight fights of this era. The Polish fighter’s 2015 bout with Marco Huck was one of the best fights of that year and showed that he could bounce back from being knocked down earlier on to come back to win by knockout. As is the case with a vast majority of top cruiserweights, Glowacki’s only blemish on his record stems from a bout with Usyk in September 2016.
Glowacki’s opponent Vlasov has fought as low as the middleweight division with his last defeat coming at the hands of current WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez in 2015. Since then, Vlasov has won 12 fights in a row with ten of those victories by way of stoppage. The only other defeat on Vlasov’s record is against light heavyweight contender Isaac Chilemba. Needless, to say that while Vlasov has not faced the elite at cruiserweight the gap in competition between him and Glowacki is not as extensive as one would think.
The city of Chicago has one of the largest Polish immigrant populations in the United States, and as seen in his fights with Huck and Steve Cunningham, Glowacki will have a large contingent of supporters in the arena. Fans in attendance can expect an action-packed battle between Glowacki and Vlasov who are the same age (32) and will continue the international rivalry between Russia and Poland.
The fights will stream live on DAZN this Saturday, November 10th at 8:00 pm ET.
WBSS on DAZN Preview: Taylor vs. Martin; Burnett vs. Donaire
By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night two of Britain’s best take to the ring for the World Boxing Super Series as 140lb number two, seed Josh Taylor of Scotland, fights undefeated American, Ryan Martin; while WBA bantamweight champion, Ryan Burnett of Belfast, steps in with future hall of famer, Nonito Donaire. Watch the fight on DAZN.
Whether watching at home or inside the arena you’re sure to remember at least one thing from Josh Taylor’s World Boxing Super Series quarter-final vs. Ryan Martin, and that’s noise. When the ‘Tartan Tornado’ appears to the crowd for the first time on Saturday, the Scottish crowd will erupt. Covering Martin, in a cacophony of sound he’s never felt before as a boxer.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Taylor’s professional-breakout fight was in his five-round dismantling of super-lightweight gatekeeper, Dave Ryan at Meadowbank Sports Arena, in 2016 and since then, five out of Taylor’s six fights have taken place either in Glasgow or his home city of Edinburgh. The fan-base has grown and with it, the anticipation of what the Scottish fans will bring.
Saturday nights venue, SSE Hydro was the base for the 2014 Commonwealth games in Glasgow, where Taylor won gold, so it stands to reason that he’ll be forever linked with the venue,
‘‘The Hydro is now my home. Every time I fight there I’m getting stronger and stronger and the fans are getting bigger and noisier.’’
The ‘Tartan Tornado’s’ last two fight have taken place at the SSE. Five months ago, the Scottish southpaw went head to head with former world champion, Viktor Postol in his most important professional fight to date.
His performance matched the event, as Taylor, now 13-0 (11KOs) battled through 12 exhausting rounds, dropping the Ukrainian in the 11th, to add another notch to his record and emerge as arguably, the biggest threat outside of the current 140lb world champions,
‘‘My style is based on hand speed and timing. I can punch hard as well…I know if I’m hitting you, I’m putting you down or hurting you. I don’t think there’s anybody that boxes the way I box.’’
‘‘I’ve seen every type of style, every type of fighting you can imagine… My ambition is to move forward, win this tournament and become world champion.’’
Before entering the WBSS, Taylor was making his way through the WBC rankings to eventually face one of the organisation’s belt holders, Jose Ramirez or already confirmed semi-finalist, Regis Prograis. If he wins on Saturday though, he’ll instead face the recently crowned IBF champion, Ivan Baranchyk for that title and a place in the final to fight either Kiryl Relikh or Prograis.
Ryan ‘Blue Chip’ Martin has fluctuated between lightweight and super-lightweight throughout his pro career. Currently 22-0 (12KOs) and training out of Big Bear under the tutelage of Abel Sanchez, Martin has won minor lightweight titles as an amateur and as a professional.
Towards the end of last year, he picked up the 135lb WBA Inter-Continental strap with a split decision victory over Francisco Rojo; as well as already being the owner of the WBC ‘Americas’ lightweight belt. However, his two fights this year came at the weight class above including a shut-out points victory over Briedis Prescott in May.
Though 22 bouts in, his professional record has been steady in its progress; Martin’s not the type of man who takes any opponent lightly,
‘‘I know Josh Taylor’s a very good boxer, I’m the most athletic, I have the most speed and that’s gonna make the most difference throughout the tournament.’’
‘‘I’ve heard the crowd in Scotland is gonna be a very different atmosphere than I’ve ever been in but I’m gonna soak it all in.’’
Although ‘Blue Chip’ won’t have fought in an atmosphere as raucous as Saturday’s is expected to be, he’s no stranger to performing on the big stage having already performed at venues such as, the StubHub Center in LA, Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena and, probably the most famous boxing venue of all, Madison Square Garden,
‘‘I’m a boxer-puncher. I love to entertain, I love to excite people…Nobody wants to see a boring fighter.’’
‘‘As fighter’s every time we step in the ring we’re risking something so why not risk it on the big stage.
As mentioned earlier, the man to emerge victorious this weekend will go on to face Ivan Baranchyk in the semi-finals, who last week scored a 7th round stoppage victory over Anthony Yigit.
Ryan Burnett vs. Nonito Donaire
The fourth and final bantamweight quarter-final sees WBA ‘Super’ champion, Ryan Burnett step into the ring with ‘The Filipino Flash’, Nonito Donaire. The winner will progress to the semis to fight WBO champion, Zolani Tete.
No one can say the 26-year-old Ryan Burnett hasn’t earned his place at the top table of 118lb boxers. The Belfast man has, on numerous occasions, been given reasons to quit boxing, his story, which he outlines in another brilliantly put together Super Series documentary here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu4AaO7UGlc isn’t your regular hard knocks tale.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
He’s overcome neurological issues that he was told were career-ending and been homeless; all before even catching his break in the sport.
‘‘I’ve got a hunger that I know no one in there has.’’
‘‘For a year and a half, we learnt how the brain worked and we started pursuing it to prove that my health wasn’t in any danger…I just always had that mad belief that I am meant to be a world champion.’’
Since around 2014, Burnett has been trained by Adam Booth and since then, established a record of 19-0 (9KOs) which, most significantly, includes becoming a world champion in 2017, for the first time via a completely dominant decision victory over Lee Haskins, and then immediately unifying the WBA and IBF championships with a tough but unanimous points win over Zhanat Zhakiyanov.
Before the WBSS second season fighters was announced, Burnett decided to drop the IBF strap, therefore avoiding a fight with WBSS semi-finalist, and now IBF champion, Emmanuel Rodriguez. Instead, Ryan’s one bout so far in 2018 was a fairly routine victory over Venezuelan, Yonfrez Parejo on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker.
Like all of the top seeds across the Super Series, Burnett recognises the pressure on his shoulders, especially when he’s going up against the power that his Filipino foe is known for,
‘‘I don’t need to be nasty to people, I’m able to switch it like a light switch and I turn into a different person…I picked Nonito because, the better the fighter, the better I become.’’
‘‘We all dream of these moments of fighting the best and becoming the best in the world and the World Boxing Super Series are making that come true.’’
Currently 38-5 (24KOs), Nonito Donaire’s, last fight was also his latest defeat as ‘The Filipino Flash’ was beaten by Burnett’s fellow Northern Irishman, Carl Frampton.
Speaking at the press conference on Wednesday, the four-weight world champion was asked about any similarities between the two men,
‘‘They (Frampton & Burnett) are similar because they’ve both got big balls. They’re there to fight and that’s something that I like… I’m just grateful to be in the ring with a great man.’’
Nonito hasn’t fought at bantamweight since 2011 when he scored a unanimous decision over, a then 35-0-2, Omar Narvaez. That night in New York he became a two-weight world champion, picking up the WBC & WBO straps as well as improving his own record to 27-1.
He then shifted his sights to super-bantam and eventually the featherweight division where he accomplished world honours in both, but by his own admission, he didn’t feel all together comfortable fighting at the 126lb limit, and the tournament has given him the opportunity to add one more achievement to his already impressive accolades.
‘‘I’ve always come to fight the best out there…I’ve achieved pretty much everything in boxing…The only thing I haven’t done in boxing is become the undisputed champion, and that’s the one thing that’s given me this fire.’’
It’s beneficial for both sides as well though as Donaire’s legendary status adds an extra bit of flavour to an already appetising class of fighters that has been whittled down to Naoya Inoue, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Zolani Tete.
‘‘This is a moment for me to rise. When one is driven to a point, there’s only one way to go and that’s going up and that’s rising beyond what I’m capable of.’’
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