Earlier today Japanese Bantamweight star Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥] departeed from Japan ahead of his upcoming defenses of the IBF and WBA "super" Bantamweight world titles against Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20), on June 19th. At the airport he was flanked by his family, including his father and trainer Shingo Inoue, his brother Takuma Inoue [井上拓真] and his cousin Koki Inoue [浩樹井上], who are travelling over with him to help put some final touches to his preparation. The rest of his team, including promoter Hideyuki Ohashi will join the Inoue clan closer to the fight, with the plan being for themto fly out on June 16th.
Befoe leaving Japan Inoue did an interview with Japanese broadcaster WOWOW.
During the interview he explained that he would be losing the rest of his weight and relaxing over in America. It seems clear that the hard work has been done in Japan, and he explained that although he doesn't know how much sparring he did for this bout, it was more than usually, and that he was doing 6 and 8 round sessions. The focal point for those spars were tall southpaws, exactly what he'll come up against when he shares the ring with Dasmarinas.
In regards to weight, it seems there's still a few kilo's left for him to lose, but he started that there is no problem at all in making weight.
When asked about this being his fourth world title fight abroad, he spoke highly of international fans and stated that he enjoyed the atmosphere of the fans for his bouts against Antonio Nieves in the US and Emmanuel Rodrgiuez in Scotland.
Regarding this bout Inoue was pretty clear that this wouldn't got to the scorecards, and he did state he was confidence of winning, though did accept that there may be some issues with the southpaw stance and height of Dasmarinas, explaining the focus on the sparring he's had.
Notably Inoue was also very open about wanting to face recently crowned WBC champion Nonito Donaire, the man he beat in the WBSS Bantamweight final in 2019, being impressed by Donaire's win over Nordine Oiubaali a few weeks ago. Donaire, and WBO champion John Riel Casimero, still seem to be on Inoue's mind and it was clear that facing one of those two later in the year was a driving factor for victory against Dasmarinas, with Inoue desperate to add more Bantamweight titles to his collection.
(Image credit - WOWOW)
Over the weekend fight fans in Okinawa saw Ryosuke Nishida (4-0, 1) [西田凌佑] score a notable upset win, as he took a decision over former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾], claiming the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title with the victory. Earlier today, following that win, Nishida took part in a press in Osaka at the Mutoh gym and spoke about what he wants to do going forward and how the bout went.
Early in the event it was revealed that both Nishida and his chief trainer, Kosuke Takeichi, had been given a reward from the management of the gym, accounting for 1 million yen, a tasty reward alongside the expected payment both men were going to get for the fight anyway.
With the win Nishida tied a Japanese record of fewest fights to win a regional title, winning one in his 4th bout just like Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成] and Ginjiro Shigeoka [重岡銀次朗]
Speaking out how he feels Nishida explained "I'm really happy to win. I received a congratulatory email and gradually realized that I won." It seemed he knew he was too big for Higa, and admitted that he didn't really Higa's punching power, something he put down to the fact that he had been fighting at Super Bantamweight before moving down in weight for this bout.
Whilst Nishida's performance was excellent it also needs to be said that Takeichi's gameplan was fantastic, and Nishida fought it fantastically well, keeping the range that Takeichi has been wanting from his star student, and controlling the bout at both range and up close.
It was Mr Takeichi that spoke about the future plans. He explained that not too much can be said, given Nishida has just won the title, but "I think he proved his ability because he beat Omori (Shohei Omori) and Higa, but he still only has 4 bouts, and I think there are some parts that aren't recognized by the people around him, so I'd like to take steps one by one. However, if we have a chance, we'd like to actively aim for the top." It should be noted that Nishida himself suggested that he wanted to face WBO Bantamweight champion Johnriel Casimero if he could get the chance. It should also be noted that Mutoh gym are quoted in the Japanese press that "there is a possibility of world challenge overseas", adding further to the idea he and his team will begin to target Casimero. Given that Higa was ranked #6 by the WBO going into this bout, Nishida is expected to take a top 10 WBO ranking on the back of the result.
Mr Takeichi also went into detail about Nishida's biggest strengths and explained "Even on the big stage, there are few emotional ups and downs. No matter who the other party is, he has a good sense of normality." That was something Nishida himself spoke about, explaining he's never been a nervous guy, even since he was an amateur, and that level of composure has shown it's self since he turned professional. He's always looked incredibly relaxed in the ring, event when under pressure.
As for how the two men intent to spend their new bonus. Nishida will be spending some on home appliances, and saving the rest, whilst his trainer explained he has to consult his wife. It is worth noting that this is the second time Takeichi has received such an award from the gym, previously winning it when he guided Yuki Strong Kobayashi [ストロング小林佑樹] to winning the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title, and he has his eyes on another one when Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸] challenges Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] in May.
Last night Showtime announced their line up for the next few months, announcing 9 shows which will run from May 15th to September 11th. Whilst not all the bouts are great, with Chris Colbert Vs Yurorkis Gamboa sticking out like a sore thumb, there are some fantastic bouts on there. Including two bouts featuring Asian fighters.
The first of those comes on May 29th when French fighter Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12) defends his WBC Bantamweight title in a mandatory defense against Filipino challenger Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26).
This bout, which was ordered at the end of 2019, was supposed to take place last year, before Oubaali tested positive for Covid19.
Sadly both men have been out of the ring since November 2019, due to both men testing positive for Covid19, though Donaire's positive test is thought to have been a false positive, and both will likely be rusty, but regardless this is still a highly anticipated bout and should be a very interesting one. The winner will also be in the mix for some very big fights, including a potential showdown with Japanese star Naoya Inoue, or the winner of the second bout.
That second bout is one that was first spoke about back in November and is now a done deal. That will see WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (30-4, 21) defending his title against Cuban veteran Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-1-0-1, 13).
Casimero has had a weird 18 months or so. As we entered 2020 he was being lined up for a triple title unification bout with the aforementioned Naoya Inoue. Sadly the bout fell through due to Covid19 restrictions and Casimero instead fought Duke Micah on his Showtime debut, impressing against Micah. He then proceeded to troll Inoue on social media, increase his profile massively, before talk of this bout began.
As for Rigondeaux he was best known for his work at Super Bantamweight but moved down in a weight a few years and quickly won the WBA "interim" title. After landing at Bantamweight he has been somewhat under-whelming. There's a lot of talent there, but he does appear to have lost a step or two from his prime, and doesn't seem to have quite the stopping power he once had. Given he's now the other side of 40 that's perhaps no surprise, but it does feel like a second loss is just around the corner for him.
The logical step for the two bouts would be to see the two winners collide, and that would make for an excellent match up down the line.
During 2020 we had a lot of great performances from fighters right through Asia, and at pretty much every level of the sport, from great novice performances to great performances at the top of the sport.
For us a great performance is more than just winning, it's about making people sit up and take notice. It's about showing what you can do and grabbing the attention of fans and creating a buzz, or rather increasing the buzz, around you. For us that was actually something we saw a lot of during the year. Fighters like Naoya Inoue, Masayoshi Nakatani and Junto Nakatani all did this excellently from Japan, Murodjon Akhmadaliev did it from Uzbekistan, Gennady Golovkin put in a surprisingly solid performance in December and hopefuls like Shohjahon Ergashev and Zhanibek Alimkhanuly left us desperately wanting more.
For us however the fighter had the best performance was John Riel Casimero, who left fans talking about him back on September 26th when he took to the ring at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, and battered Duke Micah into submission in 3 rounds.
The performance was far from a perfect one from the Filipino slugger, but the WBO Bantamweight champion knew going in that if he put on a punch perfect display they wouldn't remember him. Instead he had to go out and put on a show, and that was exactly what he did. From the opening seconds he fought like a man with a point to prove, swinging heavy leather from the off at his unbeaten challenger.
Micah, to his credit, played his part in trying to fight back against Casimero, but it only resulted in him taking more shots and being dragged into a wild, Casimero dominated, slugfest that left Micah on the end of some serious punishment before Steve Willis had to stop the fight in round 3.
Earlier in 2020 Casimero had been scheduled to face Naoya Inoue, before their bout fell apart as a result of Covid19. As a result of that Casimero knew he had to shine, he had to do something special, he had to do more than just win against the then 24-0 Micah. He knew he had to look exciting, and explosive, and maybe even a bit cocky and confident. He needed to make people in the West continue to watch to see him take on Inoue, no matter how long it was going to take. With a performance like the one he had against Micah, and the flamboyance he showed through out the bout, he did just that.
Yes there was more polished performances. There was smarter and more educated performances. But Casimero knew what he had to do, and he did that, putting on a show and making fans clamour for more of him. This was brilliant by Casimero and smart from his team, who continued to pressure Inoue for a bout.
Yesterday website "elnuevoherald.com" reported that we may be set for a huge Bantamweight bout in early 2021 between two very notable fighters, who have both been seeking a big, career defining, bout with Japanese star Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥].
The site reports that WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (30-4, 21) and WBA "regular" Bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-1-0-1, 13) are in negotiations to face off in March or April next year, in what would be a genuinely excellent match up on a PBC broadcast.
The article has a quote on it from Memo Heredia explaining "John and Guillermo would bring a tremendous clash of styles. From what I've been told, the talks are on the right track."
The two men have both called out Inoue in the last year or two, and Casimero was signed to fight him in April before him before the global situation scuppered those plans and saw the bout being postponed, and then cancelled. Since then Casimero has gone his own way, defeating Duke Micah on Showtime to record his first defense of the WBO title. As for Rigondeaux he's not fought since February, when he won the WBA "regular" title with a split decision over Liborio Solis.
For Rigondeaux the bout would be his biggest since losing to Vasyl Lomachenko in 2017, and would give him a chance to show what he can do against a prime Bantamweight, something many do query about him at his current age.
The talented Cuban looked like a slow started last time out, but when he got going he looked super sharp, albeit against a 37 year old former Super Flyweight who hadn't faced a notable opponent himself in over 2 years. At his best Rigondeaux is an excellent boxer, an brilliant counter puncher and a frustrating genius in the ring.
As for Casimero it would be a great chance foe him to score a win against a notable name, and build his reputation as a destructive Bantamweight after recent wins over Micah and Zolani Tete. It would also help him put pressure on Inoue to help secure that divisional super fight.
Whilst Rigondeaux is well known for his pure boxing Casimero is very much an offensive fighter, with explosive power, and although he can be inconsistent he is, typically, a fun fighter with an aggressive mindset andd a finishers mentality.
Again it should be noted that a deal isn't yet done, but the talks are that it's heading in the right direction, and fingers crossed this is signed and sealed in early 2021, as it is a mouth watering fight and the winner will almost certainly be the leading contender for a bout with Inoue in late 2021.
For those wanting to read the article on elnuevoherald that can be read here.
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