This past weekend we saw WBA "Super", IBF and Ring Magazine Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) make his Las Vegas debut, and secure his latest successful out, as he stopped Australian Jason Moloney (21-2, 18). The bout, which was Inoue's first since his WBSS triumph last November, was a huge opportunity for Inoue to improve his profile and it was one he took brilliantly, showing why so many regard him so highly, and why he is one of the sports must watch fighters.
With the bout now done, we've rewatched it and have a number of take aways we want to share about the contest and then men involved.
1-Inoue has it all
Usually a fighter has something missing. It's very rare for a fighter to having timing, speed, power, foot work, balance and a high level boxing brain but Inoue has all that and so much more. He is one of the very few fighters who makes every movement look natural, fluid and like it was thought out several minutes ago. We all talk about his speed, both foot and hand, and his power, but we dare say it's his brain that is the quickest. He seems to see things in advance, and anticipate things so well, allowing him to time things perfectly. Even when he's taking risks he seems to know where he was and where Moloney was, allowing him to get away with his mistakes without issue.
2-Moloney is incredibly tough
Whether Jason Moloney ever wins or a world title or not one thing is clear. The Aussie is a real tough guy. Most men would have folded when Inoue started to up the pressure in round 4, others would have taken the way out in round 6, and either stayed down, or got bailed out. Moloney on the other hand gritted his teeth and went through some real punishment looking to turn things around. Genuine credit to him for the toughness he showed, and the stubbornness. We know Aussies are typically stubborn, confident and proud, but this went well beyond what was expected. Real credit to Mayhem for lasting as long as he did.
3-Inoue's body punching wasn't up to the standards we expect
This is probably about the only complaint we can make about Inoue here, but it was something that we noticed live. His trademark body punching was a lot less prevalent than we've typically seen, and instead we saw him head hunting more often. We did see him go to the body every so often with something meaty, but in reality it was mostly with his jab, and not the hooks or uppercuts that he has showcased in the past. To be fair Moloney wasn't an easy target, and did protect his body well, but this was, perhaps, the one complaint about Inoue's performance. Then again he did so well up top that it hardly mattered and scored both of his knockdowns with shots upstairs.
4-You can't try to outbox Inoue
Jason Moloney is a very, very good boxer. He's got the tools to win a world title in he future. He's quick, sharp, light on his feet, knows his way around the ring, has good timing and has everything to be a very good boxer. Sadly for him his gameplan here seemed to be one focused on his boxing ability. He relied on his jab, a lot, and that was a battle he was never going to win. He has a good jab, but it's as good as Inoue's. He's a good boxer, but Inoue is a better one. Sadly for the Bantamweight division, there isn't anyone there who can outbox Inoue. To beat him your gameplan can't be based around out boxing the genius that is Inoue. You need something else. If you let him get behind his jab, and dictate the tempo there he's going to beat you without too many problems. Problem is there's many gameplans that look likely to have success, and going into the trenches with him also looks like it's bound fail as well. Sadly for opponents, it all looks so effortless for him.
5-There's a compromise on the free/pay TV argument
One of the big issues we have with PPV boxing is that it freezes out a potential audience, limiting the fan base of the sport and the potential impact that fights have on the next generation of fighters. It appears Japanese TV have managed to find a genuine compromise on fights like this. This wasn't live at a great time for a Japanese audience. It was in the morning and not great for viewers. It was however available to fans wanting to watch it live thanks to WOWOW. It was then made available to a wider Japanese audience on free TV at prime time. This was a brilliant work around, and maybe should be copied internationally. When a British fighter fights in American it's the middle of the night, the audience will be small, but then airing it for free on tape delay, either same day or on a few day delay, will allow it to have the big audience it deserves.
It may be a fine balancing act on pay vs free broadcasts of the same fight, but we certainly believe that this sort of thing will help keep the sport in the public eye, and even grow it in certain cases. The Fuji TV delay broadcast got over 10% of the Kanto audience, and that is a sign that this sort of thing can work, incredibly well.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).