By Daniel Sharman (email@example.com)
In November 2019, a most remarkable event occurred, one which went almost unnoticed amongst boxing fans: every single major champion within the bantamweight division faced off against another consensus top 10 fighter within the division. Indeed, if Rodriguez-Nery hadn't been scuppered at the last minute, eight top 10 bantamweights would have faced off against one another within just a single calendar month. This is a truly astonishing occurrence, and one seldom witnessed in modern day boxing, wherein top fighters are routinely inactive and often reluctant to fight one another.
In the wake of this eventful month, which has seen a number of other interesting developments within the division, four fighters have emerged thick amongst the clouds: Naoya Inoue, Nonito Donaire, Nordine Oubaali, and John Riel Casimero. In this new series, I will look at each of these four boxers in turn, considering matchups and mandatories, all with a view to plotting the course of a possible route to a new undisputed, and new lineal, bantamweight champion. In this, the prelude to the series, we recap the major events leading up to the current moment, and prepare the way for an examination of the four boxers who have emerged in the current bid for bantamweight supremacy. Whilst it may not yet be clear who will ultimately come out victorious, whoever it is will have achieved true supremacy, and will have left their name boldly etched in the annals of history.
A timeline of recent events:
24/04/2019, South Africa: WBO bantamweight titlist Zolani Tete is forced to withdraw from the WBSS quarterfinal, a unification bout with WBA 'super' champion Nonito Donaire, due to injury.
18/05/2019, Glasgow: Naoya Inoue starches undefeated IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez in two rounds in the WBSS quarterfinal.
07/11/2019, 9:00pm, Saitama: Nordine Oubaali and Takuma Inoue fight to unify the full and interim WBC bantamweight titles. Oubaali outpoints a determined and skilful Inoue over 12 rounds to retain his full version of the WBC crown.
07/11/2019, 9:30pm, Saitama: Donaire and Inoue meet in a scintillating WBSS final. The fight, which goes the distance, proves to be a fight of the year frontrunner with veteran Donaire acquitting himself brilliantly.
Inoue survives a severe orbital fracture to emerge as a newly unified champion whilst cementing his spot at the top of the P4P lists. He also announces his new co-promotional deal with Top Rank, with his next fight planned to be held in Vegas in April.
Meanwhile, Oubaali immediately expresses his desire to unify with Inoue, who reciprocates likewise, stating his desire to gain revenge for his brother.
20/11/2019: Bob Arum, Inoue's new co-promoter, informs reporters that Inoue's camp has told him that Inoue's eye injury is not too severe, and so the unified bantamweight world champion should be ready to return in March or April.
22/11/2019, Las Vegas: WBC mandatory challenger Luis Nery weighs in a pound over the bantamweight limit before his final eliminator bout with former IBF champion Rodriguez. This marks at least the fourth time Nery has missed the bantam limit in his professional career.
23/11/2019: Donaire indicates he has no plans to retire, and expresses an interest in rematching Inoue or facing Oubaali for his WBC crown.
28/11/2019, Mexico City: Marking the end of a long period of continued leniency, the WBC officially withdraws Nery's mandatory status. WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman advises Nery to move up one or even two weight divisions.
30/11/2019, Birmingham, UK: WBO interim titlist John Riel Casimero scores a big upset win, icing the returning WBO champion Tete within three rounds. With this, Casimero officially becomes a three weight world champion.
In his post-fight interview, Casimero immediately calls out Inoue for a unification matchup. Inoue immediately responds via Twitter to affirm his desire for such a fight to take place.
04/12/2019, Tokyo: At their 32nd annual convention, the WBO affirm their intention to work towards making a unification bout between Inoue and their own champ Casimero.
09/12/2019, Mexico City: In light of Nery's removal from the mandatory position, the WBC board vote to instate their #4 contender Donaire as Oubaali's new mandatory challenger. Purse bids scheduled for January 3rd. Donaire shares this news positively on his social media.
09/12/2019, New Jersey: the IBF order Inoue to defend against mandatory challenger Michael Dasmarinas. Purse bids scheduled for January 2nd.
Coming up in the series...
Issue 1: Donaire, the Veteran
Issue 2: Casimero, the Wildcard
Issue 3: Oubaali, the Dark Horse
Issue 4: Inoue, the Heir Apparent
*Note: For the purposes of the current series, I have opted to ignore Luis Nery. This is due to Nery's missing weight in his latest contest, and the WBC's subsequent removal of him from their rankings. If Nery can still make bantamweight, it seems that the best he can hope for currently is a shot at the winner of the WBA 'regular' title fight between Rigondeaux and Solis. This rather lacklustre prospect fails to warrant him a spot in the bid to become 'the man' of the bantamweight division.
These articles are submitted by guest writers and sites. They aren't submitted by the usual folk behind Asian Boxing and don't fall in line with our editorial stance, giving a fresh view on various boxing issues from the Asian boxing scene.