Through much of his career so far promising Japanese youngster Takuma Inoue (8-0, 2) [井上 拓真] has had things all his own way, being able to out box contenders with ease and making the most of his speed and technical ability. Today however he was given a serious test by Filipino Froilan Saludar (23-2-1, 14), who came up short but saw his stock immeasurably.
The bout saw Inoue enter as a very clear betting favourite. In the eyes of many this was just the next step towards becoming a world champion, like his brother Naoya. What those people forgot was the fact that Saludar was a highly capable fighter with a long and impressive amateur resume before turning professional himself.
The skills and power of Saludar showed early and he dropped Inoue very early in the bout, giving himself an early 10-8 round and putting Inoue in an awful position for what was expected to be an easy win. The Japanese fighter regrouped well and made some defensive adjustments before taking the fight to Saludar in round 2, with the Filipino looking to land powerful right hands.
By the end of round 5 Inoue was in the lead, but he was being forced to fight hard for every round and it was clear Saludar was fighting with a point to prove. The Japanese youngster was looking like a man who knew Saludar was to be respect, and at several points in the second half of the fight he was forcing Inoue to back up. That backing up was however used well by Inoue who dropped Saludar late in round 8 to score a 10-8 round himself.
Having lost a number of the rounds following his early success Saludar tried to turn the bout around in round 9 but suffered a knockdown of his own very late in round 9. The knockdown essentially forced Saludar to go for the KO in the final round, he did go for it, but was unable to land the big shots.
Despite the knockdown in round 1 Inoue was the worthy winner, with scores of 97-90, twice, and 96-91. Whilst he got the win the bout will serve as a serious wake up call to the youngster who was supposed to be getting a world title fight in his next bout, but may be forced to wait after today's performance. For Saludar the loss was a “good one” and keeps him looking like a fringe contender, rather than as a gate keeper and he may just be one or two decent performances from a title fight of his own.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)