It's fair to say that the lower weights have had extra attention in the west over the past year. The leading fighter for that growth has been Nicaraguan sensation Roman Gonzalez, who has really helped awaken the US market to the talent in the typically over-looked smaller weights. Whilst Gonzalez has started to become a star in the US he's not the only name on the lips of hardcore fight fans who have been excited by the lower weights in recent years. Another fighter is Naoya Inoue (8-0, 7) who has unfortunately had a year to forget with the year effectively written off following hand injuries, injuries that have slowed his meteoric rise.
Thankfully for Inoue, and for fight fans, those hand injuries have healed and on December 29th the youngster returns to make the first defense of the WBO Super Flyweight title that he won last December, when he blew away Omar Andres Narvaez. In the opposite corner will not be a patsy and instead it will be mandatory challenger Warlito Parrenas (24-6-1, 21), a heavy handed, aggressive and under-rated Filipino.
As with most of Inoue's bouts so far this is a tough test, though as we've seen through out his career, he's a fighter who is significantly better than most out there, and in fact he could well be a future claimant to the #1 spot on the mythical pound-for-pound list.
Inoue was pegged for stardom from his days as an amateur and and he has been raced to becoming a star. In just his 4th bout be claimed the Japanese Light Flyweight title, defeating current world champion Ryoichi Taguchi, a fight later he claimed the OPBF Light Flyweight title and then he claimed the WBC Light Flyweight title, stopping Adrian Hernandez. In just 8 fights has become a 2-weight world champion, one of the faces of Japanese boxing and a man who some are suggesting could be the man to finally end the long unbeaten run of Roman Gonzalez. He is, arguably, the leading figure in the next wave of Japanese superstars and is possibly the man to bring western TV cameras over to the east.
At his best Inoue is a boxer-puncher with frightening power, alarming accuracy, blurring speed, an instinctive knowledge of what shots to through and a natural ring awareness. Although he's a boxer-puncher he has shown an ability to be a brawler, an outside fighter and a pure counter puncher. Looking for something that he lacks is like looking for a needle in a haystack, however if being overly critical there are some issues with his defense, at least when he's been a bit too comfortable against some opponents, and of course the hand issues, which hopefully will not reoccur in the future.
Whilst in the ring Inoue is a sensation and one of the most natural fighters in the sport he does, of course, have a lot of pressure on his young shoulders. The 23 year old is viewed as being something special and knows that millions watch him in Japan on Fuji TV. He also knows that he is expected to perform like a star, despite spending a year out of the ring. He will also, perhaps, be worried about re-injuring the hand. The Inoue we see against Parrenas may not be the same Inoue that we saw destroy Narvaez and this is a real worry.
When it comes to Parrenas we know we're talking about a much lower profile fighter than Inoue, but one who is himself incredibly exciting. The Filipino is a monstrous puncher, and has 12 stoppages in the first 3 rounds. He's a danger man early on but also dangerous late and has shown solid punching power late into fights, although he has never scored a stoppage after the 8th round. Not only is he heavy handed but he always comes to fight and has a great engine, as he showed last time out against David Carmona, where he fought at a high pace for 12 rounds.
Whilst Parrenas is an aggressive banger here are certainly some issues with him. He has been stopped 4 times, and his chin is very questionable. He can certainly give it out, but it seems that he's not so good at taking it. Whilst it's fair to say that being stopped by Marlon Tapales and Jonathan Taconing isn't too bad he has also been stopped by Erwin Picardal and Oscar Blanquet, and was also dropped by Atsushi Kakutani, in a memorable 172 second bout. Those chin issues, especially early, could be a problem here, as is the fact he can be rather wild and wide and leaves himself open to counters, something that Inoue will take advantage of.
Whilst Parrenas has been stopped 4 times, and beaten 6 times, he is currently on an unbeaten run of 7-0-1 and has gone 12-1-1 in his last 14. Those runs have shown that he's improved. He's beaten fighters like Kakutani, Koji Itagaki, Tomoya Kaneshiro and Espinos Sabu whilst also fighting to a draw with Carmona, in what seemed to be a very unfortunate result for Parrenas. The improvement in Parrenas has been impressive but it's still a huge step up in class for the Pinoy puncher.
If Inoue is close to the fighter he was a year ago it's hard to see him losing to Parrenas, despite the danger that the Filipino brings. If however Inoue is rusty then Parrenas certainly has a chance to at least chin check the “Monster”. Our guess however is that Hideyuki Ohashi and Shingo Inoue wouldn't let Naoya fight unless they were confident he was fully healed, fully fit and had impressed in sparring. With that in mind we can't see anything but an Inoue stoppage, likely inside 5 rounds.
At the moment the Super Flyweight division promises a lot though has, unfortunately, failed to shine this year. A big part of that disappointment has been down to the serious hand injury suffered by WBO champion Naoya Inoue, who has been out all year. Inoue's injury has lead to the WBO sanctioning a bout for their interim title with that bout set to take place on June 20th in Mexico, and the winner set to fight Inoue up on the “Monster's” return to the ring.
The interim title bout, a real rarity for the WBO, looks like an intriguing contest on paper and will see Filipino slugger Warlito Parrenas (24-6, 21) take on Mexico's David Carmona (19-2-4, 8). We'll admit it's not a divisional super bout, such as contests involving the likes of Inoue, Carlos Cuadras or Zolani Tete, but it's still a tasty looking match up.
Of the two men Parrenas is the more experienced and, in many ways, the more well known. He's also the clear puncher coming in to this bout but has shown fragility
The Filipino 31 year old began his career back in 2007 following a solid amateur career. Sadly however Parrenas' early career didn't go too well and within 18 months of being a professional his record read 6-3 (4). It was clear he could hit like a truck but he had himself been stopped and was generally viewed as being a bit wild and even over-reliant on his power.
Unfortunately over the years that followed Parrenas seemed to progress slowly and was beaten the few times he stepped up in competition. By the start of April 2011 he was 12-5 (10) though had been stopped thrice with notable stoppages to both Marlon Tapales and Jonathan Taconing in his two most telling bouts. It was then that life changed for Parenas who went to Japan and started to really make a name for himself with wins over the likes of Atushi Kakutani, Koji Itagaki and Isaac Junior. During a 19 month stint in Japan Parrenas went 6-1 (6) and built his reputation and ability. That reputation has since been enhanced with 6 wins back home in the Philippines, include a wide decision over Espinos Sabu and stoppages over Junior Bajawa and Hengky Baransano.
Crude but powerful Parrenas is a fun to watch slugger and although he has improved his boxing he is still somewhat defensively naïve and appears to still have a questionable chin. He is however the sort of fighter who enters the ring with a “stop or be stopped” mentality and that generally makes for fun fights.
Carmona on the other hand is a 24 year old Mexican who began his career back in 2009. His career didn't start great and after just 7 bouts he was 4-1-2. Since that start he has turned his career around and is a 2-time WBO Youth Super Flyweight champion and current WBO Latino Super Flyweight champion.
Although not particularly well known Carmona's name may be familiar to fans of the lower weights. That'll be because of his 2013 fight with Omar Andres Narvaes. That bout saw Carmona challenging for the WBO world title and coming up very short against the Argentinian veteran who stopped the Mexican in the 7th round. That bout came far too early for Carmona who was out fought and bullied by the Argentinian maestro who was saved by his corner.
Since the loss to Narvaez we've seen Carmona pick up a trio of decision wins in 10 round bouts. On the whole the opponents were decent but nothing great and really shouldn't have elevated Carmona to a world title fight, or even an interim title fight, but they have and that's where we are now.
From watching Carmona in the past he's looked like he's lacking real power and can be forced backwards. He does have some nice movement and punch selection but his inability to make opponents respect him is an issue, likewise he often appears to wait too long before getting shots off. Those flaws haven't cost him too badly in the past though they will do when he steps up a level, like he is here.
Although Carmona is the home fighter we really don't see him having anything to trouble Parrenas. In fact if anything the Mexican is bringing a knife to a gun fight and Parrenas will look to walk down the Mexican and stop him. We know that Parrenas can be hurt but given Carmona's lack of power it's really hard to see him doing anything to stop Parrenas from coming forward and slowly but surely breaking him down.
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.