Of all the world title fights taking place this coming weekend perhaps one of them stands out as a horrible mismatch, where the champion is so strongly expected to retain his title that fans may not be excited by the match in question. Saying that however those same fans are likely to be excited by the favourite, simply because he is such an exceptional talent, and it's hard not to be excited about the fighter, even if the bout is likely to be a mismatch.
That bout will see WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (12-0, 10) return to the ring to make the 5th defense of his title, and take on WBO #2 ranked contender Ricardo Rodriguez (16-3, 5), who is getting his first world title fight. Rodriguez will be widely viewed as a man being thrown to the slaughter, and typically that's a type of fight fans don't like, however when a fighter is a good as Inoue then fans are happy just to see someone like him fight.
The Japanese youngster was ear marked for success from way back in the amateurs, which he dominated domestically. That talent saw him being snapped up by Ohashi gym as a teenager and being guided quickly through the rankings. The rise saw Inoue claim a Japanese title in his 4th fight, an OPBF title in his 5th bout and a world title in his 6th bout. During that rise the showed tremendous speed, skill, accuracy and scary power. Those traits allowed him to jump from Light Flyweight to Super Flyweight, and destroy Omar Andres Narvaez to become a 2-weight champion in just 8 career bouts.
As a Super Flyweight champion Inoue has been impressive without really showing how good he actually is. He ended a year long break from the ring, due to hand injuries, by dismantling Warlito Parrenas in 2 rounds, then re-injured his hand a bout later in a 1-sided 12 round decision win over David Carmona. A 1-sided win over Petchbarngborn Kokietgym followed but again didn't show Inoue shine, in fact he showed some ring-immaturity in that bout. Most recently he stopped the teak tough Kohei Kono, in probably his best performance since winning the title.
Although Inoue hasn't looked his best recently, he's still been head and shoulders better than anyone he's faced and has shown all sorts. He can box, he can bang, he can brawl, he can move and he can counter. There are flaws, mostly defensive ones, with Inoue but he's so destructive and looks so physically tough that a fighter will have to not only exploit his flaws, and there are very few, but also avoid being tagged themselves.
Whilst Inoue is regarded as one of the best little men in the sport, with wins over 4 men who have held world titles, less is known about Rodriguez. The 27 year is an American based Mexican born fighter who debuted in 2011 and has mixed in decent company, but never really shown that he belongs in the ring with someone like Inoue. In fact it's fair to say that his most notable results have been two competitive losses to former Inoue foe David Carmona. His best wins have been over Jonathan Vidal, Miguel Cartagena and David Quijano and Carlos Narvaez, contender types but not champion level fighters.
Known as "Meserito" the 27 year old has spent his time fighting between the US and Mexico, having gone 9-0 in the US and 7-3 in Mexico. This will be his first bout outside of those two countries and he comes into it in good form, having won his last 4 bouts. From the footage he's an aggressive fighter with nice body shots and a good output, but nothing sensational, and his defense doesn't seem to be the tightest, with his foot work looking slow and his power being less than imposing. Arguably his most impressive attribute looks to be his hand speed and he does throw some lovely flash combinations.
Although he's faced some good opponents this is a huge step up in class for Rodriguez and it's clear that with the travel and the top class opponent that he's up against he's going to be the under-dog. He's a decent fighter, but this really is a whole different level to what he's been competing at. Hee's in with someone who will out manoeuvred him, out speed him and out punch him, and the flurries he has had success with will be countered here.
What we're expecting is for Inoue to invite the pressure, and look to land some vicious counter shots, looking for a finish in the middle rounds ahead of his US debut in September. Rodriguez will come to fight, and will have his moments, but simply won't be able to cope when Inoue goes through the gears. Rodriguez has never been stopped before, but it's hard to see him last 12 rounds here with the Monster.
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.