Sometimes in boxing it can be hard to live up to expectation. We've seen countless fighters over the years fail to fulfil their potential and in fact fall short very early on their careers. Today however Japanese youngster Naoya Inoue (6-0, 5) lived up to his promise as he scored an historic victory over experienced Mexican Adrian Hernandez (29-3-1, 18) and claimed the WBC Light Flyweight title in just 6th professional contest.
The Mexican fighter had been the longest reigning active champion at 108lbs going in to this bout but looked like a novice in their early on as Inoue got to work from the opening round. The Japanese used his stunning hand speed to to tag Hernandez with several hard shots, including some eye catching ones to the body. It seemed obvious that Inoue was going to tag the midsection of Hernandez after the Mexican had looked skeletal on the scales yesterday.
Although Inoue had clearly won the opening round it was widely accepted that Hernandez was a slow starter and in the second round the Mexican did come alive, at least momentarily, before Inoue re-assumed control and began to back up Hernandez. Midway through the second round Inoue went back to the body, digging in hard shots whilst backing up Hernandez. It was amazing to think that Inoue was the apparent "boy" in the "man against boy" analogy when it was Hernandez pushed backwards and looking like a relatively lost fighter.
The shocking thing, for Hernandez anyway, was that even when he connected with something big it had no effect on Inoue. It seemed the vaunted power of "Big Bang" had been taken in his battle with the scales and Inoue seemed to recognise it as he started to take a few more risks. A big shot from Hernandez landed about 2 minutes in to round 3 and all it seemed to do was make Inoue more determined to punish the Mexican who was beginning to be broken up physically as seen in a cut he suffered over his left eye at the end of the third stanza.
The cut of Hernandez's was nasty though it seemed to almost inspire him at the start of round 4 as he tried to derail Inoue. All he did however was give Inoue more chances to hurt him and the early assault of the Mexican was soon forgotten as Inoue proved he could go to war just as well as he could box. The fourth was easily the closest round up to that point but it was another that appeared to show Inoue was simply too strong for the Mexican who looked like a man who had tried his best and knew he simply couldn't hang with the Japanese fighter.
After the 4 rounds the open scoring was simple, 40-36 to Inoue across the board, it was hard to argue with those scores with it perhaps being possible to give round 4 as a 10-10 if you felt like being generous to the Mexican.
Inoue's control of the bout continued in round 5 as he continued to do as he wished. Although Hernandez did manage to the youngster against the ropes at one point there was never any danger for Inoue who really did look like he was fun in there as he got a chance to show off every facet of his game. When he wanted to box on the move he was doing so, when he wanted to counter he did so and when he wanted to go to war he did.
Hernandez tried valiantly to take the fight to Inoue in round 6 but by now Inoue was simply too comfortable and sat in the pocket willing to trade shots in the knowledge that Hernandez simply couldn't hurt him. He, however, could hurt Hernandez and a vicious assault with less than 30 seconds left sent Hernandez down. Although the Mexican got up he had had enough and the referee knew it waving it off rather than giving Hernandez the extra few seconds that he could have done.
An elated Inoue celebrated with the Ohashi team that are behind him and playfully asked the fans if the belt looked good on him as he wore it over his shoulder. He then thanked his father and trainer, Shingo, as well as Ohashi Chairman Hideyuki Ohashi. The celebrations did take an unexpectedly funny turn however when Shingo was almost dropped as someone paraded him on his shoulders.
As the TV camera cut away the Inoue family stood united with Naoya being flanked by younger brother Takuma, who himself had scored a great win over Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr earlier on the card, and Shingo who is surely on his way to an Eddie Townsend award.
(Image courtesy of Boxingnews.jp)
Courtesy of Promociones del Pueblo
Unfortunately some world title fights look like mismatches on paper as an established and highly regarded champion takes on an unworthy voluntary defense against a limited and less skilled opponent.
Of course not all matches go the way we would expect looking at paper and we almost had a major shock late last night as Mexican Adrian "El Confessor" Hernandez (28-2-1, 17), the defending WBC Light Flyweight champion was unexpectedly sent to the canvas.
Hernandez, defending his belt for the 3rd time since reclaiming it from Thailand's Kompayak Porpramook last year, was facing little known Japanese challenger Atsushi Kakutani (13-4-1, 6). We'd expected Hernandez to start cautiously and slowly break down Kakutani, who had been stopped inside a round by Warlito Parrenas just over 2 years ago.
Instead of the cautious start from the champion we got action from the off and this resulted in Hernandez being dropped in round 1.
Unfortunately for Kakutani, Hernandez managed to recover to his feet and although a war continued through rounds 2 and 3 the fight was turning away from Kakutani who failed to repeat the success off the knockdown as Hernandez started to grind him down with heavier punches in the exchanges.
The grinding effect of Hernandez shots appeared to have taken their effect at the start of round 4 and in the first notable assault of the round Kakutani was sent down for the first time. The Japanese challenger showed the fighters heart by recovering to his feet but his legs lacked the co-ordination that he needed to really recover his senses. With Hernandez smelling blood he jumped on the challenger sending him down again.
Once more Kakutani found his feet though unfortunately after being sent down for the third time in the round the referee was forced to wave it off, probably a good thing considering how little punch resistance Kakutani appeared to have left.
Although this was loss by a Japanese fighter the result may actually "be a good one" for Japanese boxing fans. Kakutani's success against Hernandez, especially in the opening round showed how limited he was. With Kakutani, WBC's #14 ranked fighter, losing here and Naoya Inoue scoring his big win last weekend over Ryoichi Taguchi there may be a case for Inoue climbing into the top 15 and getting a voluntary shot next time out. If this occurs, and we want to make it clear that this is just us talking about it rather than any rumour we've heard, then there is every chance Inoue could claim a world title in fight #5.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.