Earlier this evening fight fans around the globe tuned in for the highly anticipated “Superfly” card, featuring two world title fights. The first of those was a WBO title fight which saw saw Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (14-0, 12) [井上 尚弥] make his US debut, and shine as he dominated American challenger Antonio Nieves (17-2-2, 9).
The opening round could have been a nervy one from Inoue, given it was his first professional bout outside of Japan. Instead however he looked totally relaxed, and not like a man fighting on a major international stage for the first time. He looked controlled with his jab, imposing with his footwork and pressure and in total control. That control took a step up in round two as Inoue stepped up the pace and hurt Nieves with body shots late in the round.
Although Nieves saw out the second round it looked like it was only going to be a case of “how long?” Inoue upped the ante again in round 3 as he began to really hunt the stoppage and was pressing Nieves back at will. With the challenger looking like he simply couldn't handle the power. Nieves had moments, but they were minor moral victories before he was forced to eat something much more significant.
Nieves heart shone and in round 4 he tried to back up Inoue, who obliged and fought a portion of the round on the back foot before coming forward and pumping his let jab into the face of the American who had clearly ran out of ideas. Sadly for Nieves he may have ran out of ideas but Inoue still had plenty, including the idea that he wanted a stoppage. He went about that with a new found intensity in round 5 and hammered the challenger with body shots until he went down. From then on Nieves was in full blown survival mode and a protective corner would have pulled him out after the round had finished. Instead he was sent out for another round, and it became embarrassing for the challenger. Instead of fighting he ran, literally running away from Inoue, who waved him in, raised his hands, taunted and dropped his hands completely. The result of Inoue's taunted seemed to suggest that Nieves didn't want to be there and mercifully his corner saved him at the end of the round.
With his US debut out of the way, and impressively at that, and another defense under his belt the future looks likely to see Inoue in super fights. He's had a US showcase, next has to be big bouts against big names to continue to build his incredible reputation. For Nieves it's likely he'll be back to domestic or continental level, but he'll never want to step in the ring with Inoue again after this one.
For US fans who may not have seen Inoue before, we suspect many will be looking to see him in the future, and at the end of the day, that was the aim of this bout. It was to get fans world wide interested in him, and potential show downs with the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Kal Yafai, Juan Francisco Estrada and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
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.