This coming Friday the boxing world will turn it's attention to the Ota City General Gymnasium as Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (15-0, 13) attempts to become a 3-weight world champion and claim the WBA “regular” Bantamweight title. In the opposite corner to the “Monster” will be defending champion Jamie McDonnell (29-2-1-1, 13) of the UK in what looks likely to be a bout not only for the title, but also for a place as a seeded fighter in the upcoming World Boxing Super Series (WBSS).
The champion will be making his 7th defense of the WBA title, and is currently enjoying his second reign as a world champion after having previously held the IBF Bantamweight title. As for the challenger he will be looking to claim a world title at Bantamweight having previously held the WBC Light Flyweight and WBO Super Flyweight titles.
Of the two men the pressure is really on Inoue to shine, and build on his reputation as the rising figure head of the Japanese boxing scene. He was tipped for the top from his days in the amateur ranks and rose quickly as a professional. He would win the Japanese Light Flyweight title in his 4th bout with a decision win over Ryoichi Taguchi and the OPBF title just a bout later as he stopped Jerson Mancio. Whilst those performance caught the eye of many hardcore fans it was his 2014 win over Adrian Hernandez that helped Inoue make his mark on the sport.
Inoue would only defend the Light Flyweight title once before moving up in weight, completely skipping the Flyweight division to decimate Omar Andres Narvaez for the WBO Super Flyweight title, stopping Narvaez in 2 rounds. As the WBO Super Flyweight champion Inoue would defend the title 7 times, scoring notable wins over Warlito Parrenas, David Carmona, Kohei Kono and even made his US debut with a win over Antonio Nieves.
In the ring Inoue is an offensively minded boxer-puncher. He's blessed with frightening power, as 13 stoppages in 15 bouts at the lower weights shows, bewildering speed and an incredibly high boxing IQ. He's flawed, and has been seen to turn off at times in fights, but like many sensational fighters there is an aura about him that screams he's in total control, even when he's on the back foot. In fact Inoue on the back-foot is really under-rated, and he can be just as brutally destructive with his counters and shots on the back foot. Not only that but he is arguably the best body puncher in the sport today, and against taller fighters, like McDonnell, that is a brilliant weapon in Inoue's arsenal.
The champion is a 2-time Bantamweight champion, as mentioned earlier, and at 32 years old is potentially on the slide physically. Despite being on the slide McDonnell is a physical freak for a Bantamweight standing at 5'10" and with a huge 72" wingspan. He's a fighter who has began to show cracks at the weight but was ½ under the limit last time out and has been under, rather than on, the Bantamweight limit in 6 of his last 7 bouts. Not only is he a physical freak in terms of stature but also energy and he has one of the most incredible engines of any fighter in the sport. He seems to get stronger the longer bouts go on, and despite being a slow starter is a real nightmare in the later stages of a fight. That stamina and his size makes him a real problem from range where he can keep up a busy output and handcuff opponents.
McDonnell started his career with out much hype and was 8-2-1 (2) after 11 bouts with losses to the recently deceased Chris Edwards and Lee Haskins, who would later go on to defeat Ryosuke Iwasa for the IBF Bantamweight title. From then however McDonnell has gone 21-0-0-1 (11) and claimed notable wins against Stuart Hall, Julio Ceja, Tomoki Kameda, twice, and Liborio Solis. He has looked really impressive at times, such as his second win over Kameda, but also rather poor at times, such as in the first Kameda fight and first bout with Liborio Solis. In those bouts he showed he can be out fought, he can be hurt and he can be beat, even if McDonnell picked up the wins in both bouts.
At his very best McDonnell could be a nightmare for any Bantamweight, just due to his size and stamina. He seems to put on his best performances when facing his best opponents and will know that this is bout against a special talent. Sadly for McDonnell he is going up against a special talent, and Inoue, we believe, will know that McDonnell has struggled to make weight, had been inactive and has a long torso to attack. The Inoue body attack is devastating and we think that it will be the key here. Although moving up in weight Inoue is still expected to carry dynamite in his shots, and we suspect we'll see that dynamite in action with the “Monster” taking out the Englishman in 7 or 8 rounds.
Earlier this year we saw Tomoki Kameda (31-1, 19), the youngest of the 3 fighting Kameda brothers, suffer his first defeat as he can up just short against the under-rated British warrior Jamie McDonnell (26-2-1, 12). Prior to the bout Kameda had vacated the WBO belt in an attempt to claim the WBA title though unfortunately for him he finished up with nothing other than a black mark on his record.
Although Kameda did come up short against McDonnell the Japanese fighter has invoked a rematch clause as he attempts to become a 2-time world champion and avenge his first defeat. Sadly for Kameda he no longer goes into the bout with the confidence of an unbeaten fighter, though he does appear to still have the Kameda arrogance even if he has changed one or two things since the first bout with McDonnell.
As a fighter Kameda is a boxer-mover. He has some of the fastest hands in the Bantamweight division and throws some of the best combinations in the sport. At his best he looks sensational and incredibly flashy with a style that is easy on the eye and fun to watch. Sadly though his best is own shown in glimpses and he can often be found moving too much, switching off or trying to be too cute. In many ways his biggest flaws aren't his skills but instead his mentality, which has come into question in each of his last two bouts.
Whilst Kameda is a flashy and exciting fighter his style does come at the expense of his power. We know he can hit hard, and in fact he dropped McDonnell in their first meeting, and he lands enough clean shorts to keep opponents honest. Sadly though he doesn't hit as hard as he perhaps needs to at the world level, despite showing impressive stopping ability against current WBO champion Pungluang Sor Singyu. The flashy combos have very little sting on them and whilst they win rounds they don't deter opponents.
Hopefully Kameda will have “grown up” since his loss. The loss was, at least in part, down to Kameda switching off after a very bright start. Had he shown more maturity he would possibly still be unbeaten today and looking towards unification bouts not looking to try and right what he feels was a wrong.
When it comes to McDonnell we have a real battler with a fantastic work rate and an incredible will to win. We don't mean to be harsh when we say this but McDonnell doesn't have the great level of skill, but he more than makes up for that through sheer bloody-mindedness. Unlike many fighters with a great engine McDonnell isn't reckless with his aggression, and although he throws a lot of punches he's not defensively open, though can take a shot when he is tagged, which makes him a really hard fighter to beat. He's not unbeatable but he is difficult to beat.
Like many busy fighters McDonnell is much better coming forward than he is on the back foot. He's also some what suspect early on and it can take a few rounds for his engine to really get going. When he's at full speed however he's a nightmare. Like Kameda though he has shown, more than once, than he too can turn off for large portions of bouts and has admitted in the past that he needs big bouts to bring the best out of him and get his juices going. We suspect this will be a big enough bout, however there is a chance that he may feel he's going over old ground and may not turn in as solid a performance as he did last time out.
We know above we said Kameda was partly responsible for his loss when these two men first fought and it is true. Of course it was also McDonnell's will to win and that really was what separated the men, McDonnell simply wanted it more and that was shown in the final round as Kameda floundered for 3 minutes whilst McDonnell went to work. That round was essentially the difference between the two men in what was a really close fight, it was the difference between winning and losing.
Coming into the rematch we're expecting another ultra-close bout with the winner decided by whoever has their head on right. If Kameda fights to his potential and stays on the ball we think he'll take the decision however Kameda at 99% will come up short again if McDonnell has taken this seriously. We know the Englishman has an eye on moving to Super Bantamweight in the near future and it could be that his focus is there and not on this bout. We have seen him over-look opponents in the past and it could be that his win over Kameda the first time around could have him over-look him here.
The only thing we're certain on in regards to this fight is that it will be another brilliant contest between two genuinely world class Bantamweights. Something we'll see again later this month when Shinsuke Yamanaka defends his WBC title against Anselmo Moreno. Hopefully the winners will collide in the near future.
For those who missed the first bout we've included it below.
Tomoki Kameda battles Jamie McDonnell but who will finish the night as the WBA Bantamweight champion*
Although it's not the strongest division in the sport it's fair to say that the Bantamweight division is warming up quickly and we're set for a very exciting couple of years at 118lbs. At the moment the divisional #1, by some margin, is Shinsuke Yamanaka, and behind him is a handful of fellow Japanese fighters such as Ryosuke Iwasa, Ryo Akaho, Ryo Matsumoto, Tomoki Kameda and Shohei Omori. It's possible that by the end of 2015 Japan could have 5 world champions in the division.
The next bout of note in the division features the aforementioned Tomoki Kameda (31-0, 19) who has vacated the WBO title ahead of his upcoming bout, but the bout still promises a lot as he takes on WBA “regular” champion Jamie McDonnell (25-2-1, 12) of the UK.
When the bout was first mooted it was set to be a WBO/WBA unification contest however the WBO made a worthwhile stand and made it clear they weren't going to be recognising the WBA's secondary titles. As a result they have stripped Kameda for participating in the contest and left the WBA regular title as the only one up for grabs. That however doesn't change the fact that this is a brilliant match up and something that is really mouth watering. In fact it's a genuine highlight for a month, that is full of highlights.
For those who are unaware Tomoki is the youngest of the controversial Kameda boxing brothers and appears to be the most talented by far. He's a pure boxer who can really do almost everything in the ring. He's light on feet, throws blistering combinations, counters beautifully and can switch from head to body with no issues. The one flaw in his game, if we can call it a flaw, is that does lack fight ending power but he does hit hard enough to hurt foes, as seen with his devastating body shot against Pungluang Sor Singyu back in 2014.
Like his brothers Tomoki is currently banned from fighting in Japan. However that hasn't been much of an issue for the charismatic youngster who is fluent in Spanish and has been signed by powerful American “advisor” Al Haymon who seems to like the Japanese youngster and has so backed him with this being his 3rd US bout in a row. Given his ability and style we suspect he'll continue to be fighting in the US for the foreseeable future and he could well be the Japanese star that goes on to really make it big in the US.
McDonnell on the other hand is volume puncher who has a sensational engine and seems to get stronger as the fight goes on. He does however have a lot of question marks about his shot selection, overall ability and general attitude inside the ring. At his best he's a handful and wins over the likes of Stephane Jamoye, Stuart Hall and Julio Ceja all look excellent on paper. At his worst however he struggles with the likes of Abigail Medina and Javier Nicolas Chacon, who both asked real questions of McDonnell's “world class” ability.
Whilst the 29 year old McDonnell does make us question him a lot, we do suspect that he's had an issue “getting up” for fights. He's has been matched awfully at times and it's little wonder if he's lacking motivation considering some of the hilarious mismatches he's been involved in. That motivation may well have shown in performances where he has just “gone through the motions”. If however there is more to it than just a lack of motivation it may well turn out that McDonnell is on the back end of his career and his famed gas tank is now running empty.
When the two get in the ring we're expecting to see a bout that pits McDonnell's basic but busy pressure against against the smart boxing and moving of Kameda who will move in and out with bursts of sharp and accurate flurries. The between the two style wise is huge however the biggest difference is actually likely to be the footwork with McDonnell often having questionable footwork whilst Tomoki is like a cat on his feet. That will work massively for the Japanese fighter who will be able to control range, lure McDonnell in and counter with ease against his wild foe.
To McDonnell's credit we don't see him being too hurt by Tomoki however we do see him being thoroughly out boxed and out smarted en route a wide decision victory for Tomoki.
This might not be a unification but it is a damned good bout!
(Image courtesy of www.premierboxingchampions.com)
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.