November 7th 2019 will long be remembered for giving us one of the best Bantamweight bouts in recent memory, as Japanese star Naoya Inoue (22-0, 19) scored a unanimous decision over Filipino legend Nonito Donaire (42-6, 38) to unify the WBA and IBF Bantamweight titles, along with the Ring Magazine title and win the Bantamweight edition of the WBSS. The bout, later dubbed the "Drama in Saitama" was an instant classic, with everything a bout could want. It has intense respect between the two fighters, it had drama as Inoue suffered the first cut of his career, and was later diagnosed with a broken orbital and a fractured nose, and controversy with Ernie Sharif helping Donaire survive the penultimate round of the bout. The bout, later named the Ring Magazine Fight of the year, was brilliant and helped to enhance the reputations of both men.
This coming Tuesday we get to do it all again, in one of the most anticipated rematches of 2022. This time the bout will not only be for the WBA, IBF and Ring Magazine titles, but also the WBC title, with only the WBO title being missed on what would have unified all the Bantamweight belts together, for the first time in the 4 belt era.
Since their first bout we've not seen as much of Inoue as we would have liked, with the Monster's career stalling in part due to the injuries he suffered against Donaire, and in part due to the Pandemic, which made it nearly impossible to stage big bouts in Japan during 2020 and 2021. As a result Inoue has fought just 3 times in that time period and none of the bouts were huge ones against the divisional elite. Instead they were his Las Vegas debut in October 2020 against the capable Jason Moloney, a mandatory against the underwhelming Michael Dasmarinas and a homecoming defense against the brave but massive over-matched Aran Dipaen. There had been plans for a bout against John Riel Casimero, but that was cancelled due to the pandemic and never re-arranged, unfortunately, before Casimero was stripped of the WBO title.
Notably however the inactivity likely served Inoue well, allowing him a lot of time to heal up from the injuries he suffered to Donaire. He wasn't forced to rush back from what is a serious injury, and was instead able to take his time, and when he returned against Jason Moloney almost a year after that clash with Donaire he looked 100% the fighter he had been previously. He seemed very much the Monster we all know and love.
As we all know Inoue, arguably the face of Japanese boxing over the last few years, is indeed the Monster. He's one of the few fighters in the sport who really can do it all. He can play the boxer, the boxer-puncher, the counter-puncher and the pressure fighter, and has the tools in his arsenal to really pick and choose what he wants to do and when he wants to do it. He has brutal power, which has carried up from Light Flyweight to Bantamweight and is likely to carry up at least another division, if not two. He has incredible handspeed, impressive footspeed and worryingly for he also has an incredibly quick boxing brain. That boxing brain sees him seeing things before they even look to be there, including counter opportunities and defensive gaps that he can exploit. He's an offensive freak but is also a defensively under-rated fighter, with only Donaire really landing much of note on him since his 2012 debut, and has an incredible jaw, that saw withstand Donaire's much patented left hook.
Aged 39 Nonito Donaire should be retired, he should have his feet up, looking back on a great in ring career and either working with the new generation of fighters or using his brain as an analyst. Or even just walking away from boxing and enjoying one of his many hobbies away from the ring. Instead he's proving that a fighter who looks after themselves can give father time a bit of a fight, and still remain one of the most dangerous fighters in the sport. And when we talk about Donaire he really is dangerous, and has a very misleading KO ratio, of just 58.33%, despite being one of the heaviest handed fighters in the sport on a pound for pound basis. His power is legitimate and as he's gotten older, and lost some speed, he's adapted. He's not the same fighter he was, as a young Donaire was sharp, quick and destructive, but he's altered his in ring style to be deliberate, and has moved from a counter-puncher of sorts, to more of a stalking monster looking to take opponents heads off when he lands.
Donaire, who has won titles from Flyweight to Featherweight, is a first ballot Hall of Famer when he retires, and his resume reads like a who's who of who, of the lower weights from the last 15 years. Wins over Vic Darchinyan, Moruti Mthalane, Hernan Marquez, Fernando Montiel, Toshiaki Nishioka, Jorge Arce, Ryan Burnett and Nordine Oubaali are just a handful of his wins. Even since the Inoue fight in 2019 he has scored notable wins stopping the then 17-0 Oubaali in 4 rounds and the then 24-0 Reymart Gaballo, further enhancing his reputation as a modern great.
Early in his career Donaire lived up to the moniker of the "Filipino Flash". He was lightning quick, with great timing, vicious power but some what poor boxing skills. His power and speed allowed him to get away with making mistakes, and bailed him out of bad situations. With his speed gone now a days, he has changed into a fighter who uses his size, and his ridiculously big frame at Bantamweight, along with his incredibly chin, to take when he needs to. He applies intense stalking pressure now a days. It's slow, it's deliberate, but it's hard to deal with given he still has excellent timing and is happy to take a shot to land a shot. The change in style is almost a reinvention of a fighter, and it's one that has seen him have success well beyond the typical age of a Bantamweight, of almost any fighter for that matter. It's a change that has allowed him to have success in the last part of his career, and whilst it won't forever, he will remain a threat to all the top fighters at 118lbs, due to his toughness, power, size and timing.
In their first bout the expectation was that Inoue was going to slay Donaire, stopping him and sending him into retirement. Had that happened it's fair to say Donaire would have been downplayed as being shot, and old. The fact he gave Inoue a tough bout saw both men enhancing their profiles and their positions. For Donaire to then bounce back and blast out Oubaali and prove he was still an elite level Bantamweight further enhanced both men, and coming into the Donaire is older than he was, but is also, arguably, standing in a better position than he was in 2019.
Sadly for Donaire however, we don't see him having the same success he had in the first bout with Inoue. Instead we expect to see Inoue being smarter, sharper and using his brain more. He knows what Donaire's left hook can do, and he also knows Donaire can be hurt to the body, with a liver shot sending Donaire down in their first bout. We suspect that will be the key for Inoue here, as he uses his speed, to target the body of Donaire, landing single shots to to slowly take the wind out of Donaire in the early part of the fight. Single shots from Inoue, who will look to get in and get out, draw Donaire into mistakes and tag the body. In the later rounds those body shots will take a toll, force Donaire to defend his body, before Inoue goes up top with a burst of head shots, forcing a stoppage in the later rounds.
After the bout, win or lose, we expect to see Donaire retire sailing off in to the sunset as a modern legend. Likewise we expect this to be either the final, or penultimate, Bantamweight bout for Inoue who will move up to Super Bantamweight and begin to hunt world titles in his 4th weight class.
Prediction - TKO10 Inoue
It's fair to say that 2021 has not been the year any of us wanted, expected or needed. It is, much like 2020, a year that will go down as one we want to forget, scrub from history, and never need to repeat. Thankfully it is about to end, and we are about to go in 2022, a year where hopefully normality will resume after a couple of frustrating years.
The last major fight before the end of the year will be held this Friday as Kazuto Ioka (27-2, 15) defends his WBO Super Flyweight title against fellow Japanese fighter Ryoji Fukunaga (15-4, 14), in a bout that was rushed after the emergence of the Omicron variant lead to Japan closing it's borders to international travellers. A change that forced the cancelation of a bout between Ioka and IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas and left the promoters scrambling for a replacement that was already in Japan, something that gave Fukunaga this very, very unexpected shot at the WBO title.
Despite the late opponent change for Ioka it's a bout he needs to take seriously, especially if he wants to land a massive fight in 2022 against the likes of Ancajas, Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada or Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. It's also a bout that sees him taking on a supposedly lesser opponent, but someone he knows he can't over-looked, especially after having had 3 successive mandatory title defenses since winning the title in summer 2019. Those mandatories weren't pushovers either, coming against the then unbeaten Jeyvier Cintron, 3 weight world champion Kosei Tanaka and former unified Minimumweight champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr, who all gave Ioka different types of tests.
The 32 year Japanese champion is one of the major faces of Japanese boxing, and is up there with Naoya Inoue and Ryota Murata as the three most notable Japanese boxers right now. He's been a world champion, on and off, for a over a decade now having first won a world title in February 2011, and has won titles at 105lbs, 108lbs, 112lb and 115lbs and managed to unify titles down at 105lbs. He has a resume that puts him in the mix for a future Hall of Fame place, with wins against the likes of Oleydong Sithsamerchai, Akira Yaegashi, Felix Alvarado, Juan Carlos Reveco, McWilliams Arroyo, and the aforementioned pairing of Tanaka and Rodriguez Jr.
In the ring Ioka is a brilliant technical boxer, and someone who has proven to be amazingly adaptable. He's a a boxer first and foremost, with spectacular body punching, under-rated speed and movement and respectable power but his really impressive traits are his boxing brain, his timing, his understanding of the ring, and his ability to think his way through tough spots. We've seen him play pressure fighter, as he did against Cintron, we've seen him turn full on counter puncher, as he did against Tanaka and we've seen him put on everything in between. He is a very, very accomplished all rounder, with very few weak areas. There are areas where he doesn't shine, such as his lack of brutal power, but he more than makes up for it in other areas.
As for Fukunaga he is very much a raw fighter, who has achieved a lot despite being completely under-the-radar outside of Japan. He made his debut in 2013 and despite losing 2 of his first 6 bouts he turned things around to win the 2016 All Japan Rookie of the Year on route to running up a 10-2 (10) record. His 6 fight winning run came to an end in 2018 when he was beaten in back to back fights by Yuta Matsuo and Kongfah CP Freshmart. Since then however he has gone on a notable run beating Froilan Saludar to win the WBO Asia Pacific title and Kenta Nakagawa, to unify the WBO Asia Pacific title with the OPBF and Japanese titles, and most recent he defended those three titles with a win over Hayate Kaji back in October, in what was actually his first decision win.
At his best Fukunaga has always been a bit of an offensive monster. He is naturally heavy handed, throws a lot of leather, and has damaging combinations. His offense is best defense, and his wins over Saludar and Nakagawa both showed that. He also showed real heart, climbing off the canvas to stop Saludar, and simply breaking down and beating up Nakagawa, in what was a late contender for the 2020 Japanese Fight of the Year. Sadly though aged 35 it does appear his tough bouts are catching up with him and he looked very, very lucky last time out when he barely scraped past Hayate Kaji, in one of the worst decisions in a Japanese ring this year. Kaji out worked, out landed and out boxed Fukunaga, who really shouldn't have got the decision. Had he suffered a loss there however, as he probably should have done, there is no doubt we wouldn't be talking about Fukunaga getting a world title fight. Sadly in that fight he seemed unable to set his feet, he was hurt repeatedly, and the speed and combinations of Kaji got him time and time again. The only saving grace for Fukunaga was his toughness, and the feeling he always had the power to turn things around, but he looked very very slow, clumsy and out of his depth there.
Sadly for Fukunaga the bout with Kaji really does suggest he has no chance here. He was hurt so frequently by Kaji that we have to assume he's shot, or on the verge of being shot. Given how easily Kaji landed single heavy shots and eye catching combinations we can't see how Ioka misses him, and the real question is whether Ioka goes after him, or allows Fukunaga's aggression to be his own downfall. Either way, Ioka hits harder than Kaji and we don't think this will end well for the challenger.
Prediction - TKO7 Ioka
This coming Tuesday we'll see Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) return to a Japanese ring for the first time in more than two years as he defends his IBF and WBA "super" Bantamweight titles against unheralded Thai challenger Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11). On paper the bout is a mismatch, with one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet essentially fighting in a tick over defense, and giving local Japanese fans something to look forward as the year comes to an end. Something that became a lot more meaningful when Japan closed it's borders, and ended up having two massive world title unification bouts being scrapped due to the on going pandemic. As a result of those bouts being scrapped, this bout will be the final would title bout to take place in Japan in 2021.
Aged 30 Aran Dipaen is a relative unknown for many. Unlike many Thai's he has travelled for fighters, and has previously fought not just in Thailand but also Russia, Japan and the UK, but his bouts on the road haven't been particularly high profile. In fact from the three he's travelled outside of Thailand for, the most notable was in the UK where he lost a controversial split decision to Tommy Frank in a bout for the WBC International Silver Super Flyweight title. Despite not being well known that doesn't mean he's not a capable fighter, he made an impact last time he was in Japan, stopping Ryohei Arakawa, and has also notched stoppages over tricky Filipino Jomar Fajardo, and the experienced Sukkasem Kietyongyuth, who typically fights at Super Bantamweight.
In the ring Dipaen, like many Thai's, can look a bit raw at times, and like a man who didn't have a long and storied amateur career. Like many Thai's his styles comes from his days as a Muay Thai fighter, and shows he has a lot more experience in the ring that his 14 professional boxing bouts. It's due to that style that he has a quite an unusual guard, and why he tends to ignore his jab to instead throw heavy right hands. His boxing skills are limited, and that's being polite, but he is naturally heavy handed, he knows his way around the ring and he's tough, rugged and refuses to just lie down. Even when he's coming off second best. He's raw as a boxer but is still dangerous and like many former Muay Thai fighters he can take real punishment and has a surprising gas tank and will to win. Sadly though he isn't particularly quick and his flat footed style, along with his lack of an educated jab, his high guard, are just asking for trouble against someone as accurate, explosive and intelligent as Inoue.
Talking about Inoue it's hard to think of things haven't already been said about the biggest name in Japanese boxing. The "Monster" is a real star, and is an incredibly rare talent who has everything a fighter can need. He has brutal power, scary physical strength, incredible speed and timing, every punch in the book, and a fantastic boxing brain. His body shots are among the very best in the sport, his jab is crisp and sharp, his left hook is scary accurate, and worryingly for his opponents he is both defensively solid and frighteningly tough. So far in his career he has fought through bad damage to his right hand, including against Omar Andres Narvaez and Yuki Sano who he out boxed whilst fighting one handed, he has also battled through bad facial damage, which he suffered against Nonito Donaire, and has shown an impressive chin when he's been tagged. Interestingly the one worry about him earlier in his career was his hands, which were damaged in a number of early career fights, but since moving to Bantamweight the hands have held up, and appears cutting down to Light Flyweight and Flyweight earlier in his career may have played a part in those injuries. He has also been working with a specialist wraps guy in recent years, which will also have helped protect his hands.
Earlier in his career the one chink in his armour was the aforementioned hands. That seemed to be the one way a fighter was going to beat him. With stand his power, then fight a one handed Inoue and take advantage. Now however there doesn't appear to be a single chink in his armour. And worryingly he seems capable of being a chameleon in the ring. We've seen him fight as a boxer, a counter puncher, a pure puncher, a boxer-mover, and a pressure fighter. He and his team, including his father Shingo and promoter Hideyuki Ohashi, know what he can do, and also know how to work gameplans to beat opponents, take advantage of their flaws, rather than just relying on Inoue's fantastic all round destructive abilities.
Sadly for Dipaen there is a lot of flaws for Inoue to take advantage of, including his slow feet, high guard and lack of a jab. Given how brutal Inoue is with his body shots, we can't help but think that Dipean's flat foot and high guard will allow the Monster space and timing to land a brutal shot to the mid-section whenever he feels like. Dipaen is tough, and one knockdown is unlikely to be the end of him, but a knockdown from a body shot will likely start his downfall, and a knockdown or two later the referee will step in and save him from himself.
We don't expect Inoue to try and blow out Dipaen too early, especially given how long fans in Japan have had to wait to see him fight at home, but we do know that once he had his man hurt he will finish him off.
Prediction - TKO4 Inoue
This coming Saturday in California we'll see WBC Bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27) take on interim champion Reymart Gaballo (24-0, 20) in a mandatory title fight, and a rare all-Filipino world title bout.
The bout isn't the one anyone wanted to see for Donaire, who had been linked to unification bouts against Naoya Inoue and Johnriel Casimero, but it should be a an interesting one, with the bout serving as a chance for Donaire, aged 39, to continue an incredible late career run as a world champion and for Gaballo to announce himself a legitimate world level fighter.
Of the two men the more well known, by far, is Donaire. He's a true future Hall of Famer and a legitimate legend of the sport. His career has seen him win world titles at Flyweight, Bantamweight, Super Bantamweight and Featherweight, before moving back down the weights and picking up Super Bantamweight and Bantamweight titles a second time. Now aged 39 he is the oldest ever Bantamweight world champion, and he is still a devastating fighter. He gave Naoya Inoue his toughest bout, in 2019, and blasted out Nordine Oubaali this past May for the WBC title, proving that even now, at a very advanced age for a Bantamweight, he is still a world class fighter.
In his younger years Donaire was a very sharp boxer-puncher. He was technically solid, without being spectacular, but had lightning speed, amazing timing and fight changing power. His left hook was as potent a weapon as any fighter had in their arsenal. As he moved up the weights and ages, he slowed down, and whilst his power has always been brutal he's adapted his style, allowing him to age remarkably well in the ring. He's no longer a quick, sharp puncher, but instead he's become the sort of Horror Villain, walking opponents down, hunting them and forcing an error for him to counter. He's now using his size, and he is a huge Bantamweight, and experience rather than speed and is a very, very hard man to beat at 118lbs.
Reymart Gaballo on the other hand is someone looking to make an impact, and make up for a very underwhelming performance last time out, when he took a much debated split decision against Emmanuel Rodriguez. The heavy handed Gaballo has looked really good at times, and for much of his career he has looked like a heavy handed, quick, sharp and exciting fighter. He showed what he could do in his US debut, when he beat Stephon Young for the WBA "interim" world title, though sadly he then went on to score some low key wins, rather than build on that one, and it wasn't until last December that he faced another noteworthy fighter, and took that questionable decision over Rodriguez. That bout saw him look limited, tame, and very much like a fighter trying to change his style, right before the biggest fight of his career. In that win he was more patient than ever, but looked like he had lost himself to a change that he didn't fully believe in or truly commit to.
At his best Gaballo looks explosive, hard hitting, and like a man who loves committing to combinations and flurries, with a good sense of flair and excitement. In fact he has a lot of similarities to John Riel Casimero, albeit a much less proven and less impressive Casimero. Sadly though he really didn't fight his usual fighter against Rodriguez, and the likely reason for that is the fact Rodriguez didn't let him. Instead Rodriguez boxed, used his brain, created range and angles and left Gaballo looking lost and confused and really not doing much at all as a result. That bout left us feeling that he was trying to change who he was, and lost what made him who he was. If that's the same here he's going to be in a lot of trouble, especially given that he's not a fighter with particularly good defense.
Gaballo certainly has the potential to be a major player in the division. He has the power, the speed and the explosiveness to be a real danger man. Sadly though where not sure he has the experience, the seasoning or the polish to be that man at the moment. The Rodriguez fight showed a lot of issues with him, and he was lucky that Rodriguez, whilst a very good boxer, is not a puncher. Sadly for Gaballo, Donaire is a puncher, and Donaire won't try to fiddle his way to a victory. Instead he will time Gaballo, lure Gaballo into a mistake and detonate a thunderous left hook. When he does that Gaballo will feel it. He may withstand some, but sooner or later one will land too clean and will drop him. Donaire might not be the fighter he used to be, but he is still a clinical finisher and we can't see him letting Gaballo off the hook when he has him hurt. Especially knowing that Gaballo has so many defensive flaws.
This could be exciting early, but we only see it ending one way. An early win for Donaire.
Prediction - TKO4 Donaire
Through 2021 we've seen numerous mandatory title challengers scoring notable upsets and dethroning champions in some of the biggest shocks of the year. That includes one just a few weeks ago, when George Kambosos beat Teofimo Lopez. This coming Saturday there will be a champion looking to avoid the same fate, as Filipino John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21) looks to defend the WBO Bantamweight title against mandatory challenger Paul Butler (33-2, 15).
On paper it's a match up that looks interesting, with the two men have similar looking records, but in reality most see this as a complete and utter mismatch. That's not just us, but also the bookies, and as we're writing this preview, Casimero is a 1/20 favourite, whilst Butler is best priced at 11/1 to score the upset. They are crazy odds, and suggest that in the eyes of the bookies this is a foregone conclusion, and not a bout that should have been mandated by the WBO. Especially not given that Casimero had been talking about a unification bout with WBC champion Nonito Donaire and WBA/IBF champion Naoya Inoue. Both of which would have been much, much more meaningful for the sport, and the division, than this one.
Casimero is a 3-weight world champion and a man who has finally started to get respect in the last couple of years, is an enigmatic fighter with brutal power, lightning speed, and a wild man man mentality in the ring. He's the sort of fighter who can both amazing, and terrible in the same fight, but does, consistently, get big wins, often as the under-dog and often on the road. In fact Casimero is a true road warrior, who has fought all over the globe, and this coming fight see him a stamp from the United Arab Emirates on his passport. Amazingly it'll be the 11th country that Casimero has fought in, a staggering number for fighter!
In the ring Casimero has always been a crude puncher. He is technically a very flawed fighter, but he's someone who uses his flaws to his advantage. He's hard hitting, he's quick, he throws from very unorthodox angles, he's tough and he's aggressive. He does give opponents chances, but he's also able to punish opponents who try to counter him, due to his speed. Sadly he can blow very hot and cold, as we saw in 2017 when he lost to Jonas, but when he's on song he's a monster and has a resume that most fighters would be very jealous off. In his 31 wins he has victories over Cesar Canchila. Luis Albert Lazarte, Pedro Guevara, Amnat Ruenroeng, Charlie Edwards, Zolani Tete and Guillermo Rigondeaux, with all those wins coming on the road.
The challenger to Casimero's throne 33 year old Englishman Paul Butler, who was once tipped as a major star for British boxing but hasn't managed to really shine internationally like many expected. He was, for years, built up as a brilliant, slippery, boxer with a bit of spite by those in the UK. On the domestic scene that has, for the most part, been true. Sadly however when Butler has stepped up he's been found wanting. His most notable win to date came in 2014, when he beat Stuart Hall for the IBF Bantamweight title but he failed to defend the title, vacating it just weeks after winning it to move down in weight, to compete at Super Flyweight. The move proved to be a poor one with Butler being stopped in 8 rounds by Zolani Tete in a bout for the IBF Super Flyweight title, in 2015. He would earn another world title fight in 2018, but miss weight, before then boxing dominated by Emmanuel Rodriguez in a bout for the IBF Bantamweight title.
The problem for Butler has always been a simple one, he's not genuine world class. He's very good, but he lacks solid power, he became very negative and although talented there's too many things missing from his boxing to really be a major star. He's sharp, but he's not a particularly big fighter, and he can become very negative at times. Against world class fighters he has really looked a couple of levels below them, with both Tete and Rodrgiuez beating him with ease. And they beat him at his own game, boxing. Agaunst Casimero he's in there with an unorthodox, power puncher, who doesn't mind making things messy when he needs to, and bully fighters around.
Given Butler's lack of power really don't see how he can win here. He won't get Casimero's respect. He won't make Casimero thing twice, and whilst he might take a few rounds early on, there is a sense of inevitability about this contest. At some point one of Casimero's wild, looping left hooks or even loopier right hands will land hard on Butler. We suspect Butler will get up, one thing we can't question is Butler's heart, but he'll then be a sitting duck with Casimero raining down bombs until Butler's either out on the canvas or the referee is forced to interject.
For Casimero, who was last seen beating Rigondeaux in a stinking bout in August, this is a perfect match up for him. He's in there with a challenger who poses no threat at all, and this is a bout for Casimero to look great in, and restart his verbal jousting with the fellow champions. The same champion he should have been facing instead of Butler.
Prediction TKO4 Casimero
This coming Saturday we'll see the next step towards total unification in the Bantamweight division as WBO champion John Riel Casimero (30-4, 21) takes on WBA "regular" champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-1-0-1, 13), essentially ridding us of the pointless and meaningless WBA "regular" title in a division with a busy and active "super" champion. Not only is this a major bout for the division, pitting two of the top 10 against each other, but it's also a brilliant match up from a styles perspective and a match up that really could see any number of outcomes. It could see either man being stopped, it could see one many looking his age or it could see the other having his technical flaws picked away at in embarrassing fashion.
For those who follow the lower weights the career of John Riel Casimero is an interesting one. He was from unknown Filipino hopeful, to journeyman, to being in the middle of riot in Argentina, to being back under the radar despite scoring decent wins, then becoming a 2-weight champion. It really wasn't until he stopped Charlie Edwards that European fans became aware of him, and it wasn't until he knocked out Zolani Tete that he broke through to becoming a notable name. That was despite the fact he had already been a 2-weight champion and had beaten the likes of Cesar Canchila Luis Alberto Lazarte, Pedro Guevara, Mauricio Fuentes and Amnat Ruenroeng. Thankfully since beating Tete he has become one of the most interesting fighters in the lower weights, showing off a flamboyant in ring style, a loud and obnoxious attitude, an incredible amount of trolling towards Naoya Inoue, and a personality that really is hard to ignore. He knows he's got some attention, and he seems desperate to keep a hold of it.
Through out his career Casimero has never been a technical fighter. He's always relied on being quick, powerful and heavy handed. He is, essentially, and explosive puncher, and has the flaws of an explosive crude puncher. Despite those flaws he's also a fighter no one can overlook, and it only takes a single shot from him to turn a fight around, as we saw against Zolani Tete in 2019. He is dangerous, he's experienced, and like a viper he strikes when opponents least expect it. Despite being experienced however he can be rash, he can be open to counters, he can take risks he doesn't need to and he can also sleep walk through bouts, as we saw against Jonas Sultan. He's unpredictable, inconsistent, and whilst he is a brilliant fighter, he can also be very frustrating at times.
Whilst Casimero spent years flying under the radar that was never really the case with Guillermo Rigondeaux. The Cuban turned professional after winning 2 Olympics gold medals and had long been regarded as one of the best amateurs on the planet. He was then moved ultra-aggressively when he began his career, and it was clear that his handlers knew he could be a star he made his professional debut in May 2009 and just 18 months later he beat the very good Ricardo Cordoba for the WBA "interim" Super Bantamweight title. He would win the full version of the title in 2012, and seemed set to become a star. In 2013 he was given a huge bout, facing Nonito Donaire in a WBA/WBO unification bout. It was the door to superstardom, put open for Rigondeaux. The Cuban won, but he didn't put on a show. He instead frustrated fans and the media. His negativity turned fans off, and a follow up defense against Joseph Agbeko saw fans leave the venue, during his main event bout. Since that bout with Agbeko his career has never really recovered. He's been inactive at times, had a career filled with poor decision making, including taking a bout with Vasyl Lomachenko in 2017.
Rigondeaux was groomed to be a star, but poor decisions, horrific management, self sabotage and a frustrating style, saw him fall out with almost every power player in the sport. He went from a fighter who should have been a star, to someone fans didn't want to watch, and opponents didn't want to fight. He was high risk, low reward and provided almost nothing to entice opponents into the ring. Even two world titles wasn't enough to help make fights with him in what was a hot, exciting era at Super Bantamweight.
In recent fights Rigondeaux has taken more risks, he has been caught more and at 40 he is losing a something. He is however a very intelligent fighter, with a counter punchers mentality. His left hand is vicious, and quick, sharp, and powerful. He has one of the best brains in the sport, some of the best counters in the sport and event at 40 he's lighting lighting sharp.
At his best Rigondeaux would have a field day with Casimero. The Cuban would draw leads and avoid them, he'd frustrate Casimero, he's make the Filipino look stupid, rash and like an idiot, before lowering the boom and landing a brutal straight left hand. Casimero would do enough to make the fight watchable, but would be on the wrong end of a beating.
Now a days however it's hard to know what Rigondeaux really has has left. We suspect it's no longer enough to beat a genuine world class fighter. In fact we expect one of Casimero's wild, looping shots will catch the Cuban and lead to him falling apart. And we expect that to happen early in the bout. The longer it goes the more and more comfortable Rigondeaux will get, and we expect Casimero and his team will know that they need to jump on the Cuban quickly and not let him off the hook. If this goes past 5 rounds however Casimero will bee getting timed, and potentially being stopped himself.
Prediction - Casimero TKO3
On June 19th we'll see Japanese star Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) return to the ring for his first bout of 2021 as he defends his IBF and WBA "super" titles at Bantamweight, and takes on IBF mandatory challenger Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20) in Las Vegas. For Inoue this bout serves as his third defense of the unified titles, and sees him look to extend an excellent reign that included winning the WBSS final in 2019 and scoring a fantastic win over Jason Moloney last year. On the other hand the bout also serves as Dasmarinas's first world title bout, outside of IBO "world" title fights, and his US debut, making a huge fight for both men and one that could set the winner up for a massive fight at the end of 2021 against John Riel Casimero or Nonito Donaire.
Coming in to the bout it's fair to say the "Monster" will be close to an unbackable favourite, but is he going to have things all his own way? Or can Dasmarinas manage to ruffle a few feathers and score one of the biggest upsets of 2021? Lets take a look at the fighters and how we see this one going.
It's fair to say that Naoya Inoue is almost universally regarded as one of the best fighters on the planet. The 28 year old is already a 3 weight world champion, having won titles at 108lbs, 112lbs and 118lbs, and he has scored some brilliant wins already during his career. Victories over the likes of Ryoichi Taguchi, Adrian Hernandez, Omar Andres Narvaez, Kohei Kono, Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Nonito Donaire have seen many regard him, in just 20 bouts, as the greatest Japanese boxer of all time. Whilst others might feel Fighting Harada still outshines him, there really is many others in Japan's long and stories history that match up favourable against the "Monster".
In the ring Inoue lives up to the "Monster" tag that he's been dubbed with for years now. He's a huge puncher, with freakish physical strength, an ungodly amount of power in his punches, great movement, stupidly impressive timing, and criminally under-rated boxing skills. When many look at Inoue they see a power puncher, but the reality is that he's an intelligent boxer-puncher, who sets shots up perfectly, finds holes in opponents defenses and exploits them with his timing, speed, boxing brain and positioning. Staying with his offensive work he is also one of, if not the, best body puncher in the sport.
Not only is Inoue a great offensive fighter but he's also got solid defensive skills, and when he needs to he's also got a very impressive chin and a real ability to fight through adversity. In fact it's his ability to fight through adversity that takes him from a great fighter to an incredible one, and is something we've seen since his win over Yuki Sano, where he fought much of the bout one handed. We also, notably, saw it against Nonito Donaire, when he fought much of the bout with double vision and a fractured orbital. He has proven that when the going gets tough, he fights through it.
He is a scary fighter to face.
Dasmarinas on the other hand is much less well known, despite having debuted the same year as Inoue and fighting 13 bouts more than the Japanese star. Whilst part of that is down to what Inoue has done, winning world titles, winnings the WBSS and fighting around the globe, a lot is also down to what Dasmarinas hasn't done. And in reality Dasmarinas hasn't really done much, despite having more than 30 bouts to his name. His real crowning achievement was winning the IBO Bantamweight title in in 2018, when he knocked out Karim Guerfi in brutal fashion, but other than that there isn't too much to talk about on his record. If you want to go through the bones of his record the other notable wins results have been 2014 win over Hayato Kimura, a loss that same year to Lwandile Siyatha, a 2015 win over Jhaleel Payao, a 2018 draw with Manyo Plange and a 2019 win over Kenny Demecillo in an IBF world title eliminator. The reality is that there isn't a lot there.
Despite his record being thin Dasmarinas has shown plenty to like. His KO or Guerfi was a KO of the year contender in 2018, his wins against Payao and Demecillo showed that he was a capable fighter, his loss to Siyatha, a controversial one, showed that he could go into enemy territory and his bout with Plange, although a very lucky draw, showed he could take a shot and didn't stop trying. Sadly however those bouts also show one thing, he can be out boxed. In fact Guerfi made it look easy until he was tagged and Plange was really unfortunate not to get the win when he fought Dasmarinas. There was nothing about Dasmarinas' boxing that would worry any world class fighter. He has power, but lacks in terms of skills and often struggles to set that power up properly. Unfortunately Dasmarinas, due to his wait to get his mandatory title fight, has also seen him out of the ring for 20 months, something that will likely leaving him looking rusty and mess up his timing.
Despite being limited Dasmarinas does have some things going for him. He's a southpaw, always an advantage, and he's also notable taller than Inoue, by around 2" or 3", with a longer reach and natural size advantages. On paper this should be something that Dasmarinas backers are going to like, however we would dare say this is not an advantage against Inoue. He chews up southpaws and taller men. This was seen when he smashed Narvaez and Payano, both southpaws, and guys like Yoan Boyeaux and Jamie McDonnell, both much bigger men. His body shots are brutal and break down tall guys.
With history in mind we suspect that Dasmarinas's success will be very, very limited. Inoue will take a few moments to have a look at the Filipino, then begin to pressure him, going to his body, and look to land single, hard, powerful shots. Breaking down the Filipino.
Inoue has suggested he was wanting to break down Dasmarinas, but in all honesty we see the breaking down process being a quick, explosive process, rather than a slow one and wouldn't be surprised if this was over in 3 or 4 rounds. Against a Dasmarinas who has been more active then this, maybe, would have lasted longer, but with his inactivity, and with Inoue wanting to make a statement on his return to the US, this could be over very, very quickly.
Prediction - TKO4 Inoue
One thing that was undeniable about the boxing scene in 2020, was that it was a year that messed up the calendar, significantly, and saw so many bouts being cancelled or postponed. Due to the effects of Covid19 a lot of major names in the sport either didn't fight at all in 2020, or fought just once, as their careers stagnated for a year. Thankfully it appears that 2021 will be the year that things get back to normal, at least in the last few months of the year.
Two men that were massively affected by the Covid19 pandemic were WBC Bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12) and his mandatory challenger Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26), who had a planned bout cancelled when Oubaali tested positive for Covid19. Donaire himself would also test positive for the virus, though it appears his positive test was likely a false positive, as he got a negative response in a confirmatory test that he and his team paid for.
With neither man fighting last year, and with Oubaali having a planned March defense cancelled as well, neither man has actually fought since November 2019, when they both featured on the same card over in in Japan. That card saw Donaire lose to Naoya Inoue, in the WBSS Bantamweight final, and Oubaali beat Naoya's younger brother Takuma Inoue to retain the WBC title. Following those bouts in Japan, and the cancellation of an eliminator featuring Luis Nery who failed to make weight, Donaire was made the mandatory challenger to Oubaali, in what looked like a great bout for early 2020. Before the pandemic left it's mark on the sport's calendar.
Despite the long lay off for both men, and the issues of 2020, we'll get to see the two men clash this coming weekend in arguable the best Bantamweight bout currently on the schedule, and one of the most interesting bouts the division has seen in well over a year. It's a bout neither man can afford to lose, and a bout that sets the winner up for a potential unification bout, possible with Naoya Inoue or Johnriel Casimero.
So with that back story out of the way how do we see this bout? And what can we say about the two men involved?
The defending champion, Oubaali, is a 34 year old southpaw who was a former amateur standout before turning professional in 2014. He started his career well and picked up notable wins over Hiram Irak Diaz, Julio Cesar Miranda, Alejandro Hernandez and Mark Anthony Geraldo in his first on his way to a world title fight. When he finally got his world title shot he beat Rau'shee Warren for the then vacant WBC title, which he has now defended twice, stopping Arthur Villanueva and scoring the aforementioned win over Takuma Inoue in 2019. For a man with just 17 bouts his resume is genuinely solid, not spectacular but really solid. Sadly however for a man who is now in his mid 30's, in a division where most fighters are consider on the slide at the age of 30, his careers underwhelming, and it's clear he will need to not just win here, but rack up other wins to live up to his full potential.
In the ring Oubaali is a solid technician. A really good technical boxer, with under-rated power, a surprising physicality, very good speed, sharp punches and good work rate. He is, however, small at the weight, has questionable stamina, and there are perhaps some questions about his durability. To date he's yet to face an actual world class puncher, and he was hurt against Inoue in the later rounds, as Takuma surprisingly made the very competitive late on, despite what the scorecards for that bout suggest.
When it comes to Nonito Donaire it's fair to say there it little that hasn't already been said about the Filipino legend and future Hall of Famer. He is a legitimate legend and there is no denying that. Aged 38 Donaire has been there, done that and got the T-shirt. He made his professional debut way back in February 2001, when his first world title in 2007, when he upset Vic Darchinyan, and became one of the few major stars of the lower weight classes. He managed to win world titles at Flyweight, Bantamweight, Super Bantamweight and Featherweight, while scoring notable wins over a who's who, of who. He has beaten Darchinyan, Moruti Mthalane, Raul Martinez, Rafael Concepcion, Hernan Marquez, Volodymyr Sydorenko, Fernando Montiel, Omar Andres Narvaez, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, Jeffrey Mathebula, Toshiaki Nishioka, Jorge Arce, Simpiwe Vetyeka and Ryan Burnett. Despite picking up losses along the way he has one of the best resumes in the sport today. A truly brilliant resume.
In the ring Donaire has changed his style over the years, but some things have remained the same. Over the years he has tried boxing southpaw, and was once very light on his feet, but as he's aged he's become less reliant on his speed, with his legs and footwork both slowing, in fact he's almost a flat-footed fighter. Instead of relying on speed he's relied on his physicality, size, power and strength, and he's a huge Bantamweight. Last year he dwarfed Inoue in their bout and will tower over Oubaali here. He's strong, tough, with a dynamite left hook, a really impressive chin, thunderous jab, good technical skills and excellent timing. Given he's now 38 it's hard to know what he's got left in the tank, but given his performance last time out, against Inoue, there is a feeling he may well have one more big performance left before he calls time on his career.
It's hard to know what both men will be bringing to the ring here. Both have been out of the ring for more than 18 months, both old are for Bantamweights and whilst Oubaali is younger it'll be interesting to see how he looks following his legitimate bout with Covid19.
At their best it would be almost impossible to favour Oubaali. Even now it's hard to pick the Moroccan born French fighter, who's key advantages are being younger than Donaire and being quicker. We suspect he lacks the fire power to get Donaire's attention, he'll be the much smaller man, he'll have to work incredibly hard to get in and get without eating Donaire's stiff jab and potent left hooks. Especially if he tires again as he did against Takuma Inoue. If a tired Oubaali, perhaps even an Oubaali feeling the effects of his 2020 illness, show up, this could be a very, very tough night for him.
That's not to say Oubaali can't win. He could out work and out fiddle Donaire early on, then see out the 12 rounds fighting on the retreat. We can see that happening, but we're not expecting it. Instead we see Oubaali starting well, but tiring through the fight and then being stopped late as the power, size, and strength of Donaire wears him down.
Predictionm - TKO10 Donaire.
Ever since Shinsuke Yamanaka lost the WBC Bantamweight title to Luis Nery in 2017 the belt has been in a weird state of flux. Originally Nery was the champion, until he lost the belt on the scales, then Takuma Inoue won the interim title, with Nordine Oubaali winning the regular title a month later. Oubaali managed 2 defenses in 2019, including 1 over Takuma Inoue. He was then supposed to defeat the title against Nonito Donaire this year.
Sadly plans for Donaire Vs Oubaali got scrapped in November, when Oubaali contracted Covid19. As a result Donaire was then scheduled to face Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12) for the vacant title, before Donaire ended up contracting Covid himself. As a result Donaire was himself replaced by fellow Filipino Reymart Gaballo (23-0, 20), and it was agreed that Donaire anbd Gaballo would fight for the interim title, whilst the mess around them got sorted out.
Incidentally seeing Rodriguez getting a shot at the title now takes us weird full circle. He was supposed to face Luis Nery last year in a WBC world title eliminator, which was cancelled following Nery failed to make weight. Strangely Rodriguez wasn't then given mandatory status, with that going to Donaire, who as mentioned was supposed to fight Oubaali. As for those wondering Gaballo was himself scheduled to fight on this very same card, against Chilean foe Jose Velasquez (28-6-2, 19) for the WBA "interim" Bantamweight title.
Despite all the changes and swapping of fighters, we're expecting a great bout here between two men desperate to make a name for themselves, and make the most of a very odd situation.
Of the two fighters it's Emmanuel "Manny" Rodriguez who is the better known. He is a Puerto Rican fighter who first made his name in the amateurs winning the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics and coming second at the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships. When he turned professional in 2012 there was solid expectations on him to have success in the professional ranks though he was matched relatively softly early on. In 2014 he took a step up in class and impressed, knocking out Cartagena in the opening round. It was proof that he was a talent but sadly it took a long time to get a big bout, with his first world title contest coming in May 2018, when he easily beat an over-weight Paul Butler in the UK to claim the IBF Bantamweight title.
It seemed that Rodriguez's win over Butler would be his coming out party, and lead him to entering the WBSS. In his WBSS quarter final he narrowly out-pointed Jason Moloney, retaining his IBF title by split decision over the talented Aussie before returning to the UK and losing in 2 rounds to Naoya Inoue in May 2019 in a WBSS semi-final. Since then he hasn't fought, in part due to Luis Nery failing to make weight for a bout against him last year, as mentioned earlier.
In the ring Rodriguez is a very skilled, quick, and well schooled fighter. His amateur pedigree shows in the ring and he's very smooth and natural between the ropes, with a good crisp jab and a very sharp right hand. He likes to dictate the action from the center of the ring and did ask questions of Inoue last year in the opening round. He takes a good shot when he needs to and moves well. Sadly though there are question marks about his stamina, which showed in the second half against Moloney, and despite having a solid first round against Inoue he did several left hooks before being taken out in round 2 when Inoue began to go through the gears. As well as the issues we saw against Inoue there is also 19 months of inactivity since that bout, and he's had no confidence building bout since.
Gaballo is a somewhat unheralded Filipino, who's now just 24, has the tools to be a star, and it looked like he was on the way to becoming a major name in 2018 when he upset previously unbeaten American Stephon Young in Florida to claim the WBA Interim title. Sadly that title lead him to nothing, however a win over Rodriguez would see him make a name for himself.
Gaballo made his debut in 2014, as a 17 year old, and immediately looked like one to watch as he bowled over his first 4 opponents inside the opening rounds, in the space of 5 months. He was up against novices, but was needing around a minute per fight. His first 5 bouts ended early before he finally started to go rounds, going 4 rounds with Rodel Garde and 6 with Paulo Perono. Amazingly they, along with Stephon Young, are the only men to hear the final bell with Gaballo. After back to back decisions wins Gaballo went back on a tear stopping 11 opponents in a row, including 9 in the first 2 rounds.
Whilst many opponents during Gaballo's stoppage run were poor he did manage to pick up experience on the road, stopping veteran Ernesto Guerrero in Hawaii and Ulises Rivero in Mexico before facing Young and proving he was a real one to watch. He dropped Young in round 3 and took a 12 round decisions, proving his stamina in the process and taking the WBA interim title. Sadly however the risk/reward for facing him was ridiculous and no one came forth for his interim title, leading him to having 4 low profile bouts afterwards, all ending in the first 6 rounds.
In the ring Gaballo is a legitimate nightmare. Technically he is crude, he's open, he can leave gaps to counter and he can get over-excited when he has his man hurt. However he gets away with it for 3 reasons. He's incredibly heavy handed. What he hits he hurts, and that's with both hands. His jab is like a ramrod, his hook is like a sledgehammer and his right hand is pure dynamite when it lands. He combines that power with scary hand-speed, and he can land a punch before an opponent gets the chance to react to his openness. He's also very unpredictable, and trying to time him with counters is tricky due to how unpredictable he is and how he mixes straight shots with some very wide ones. Trying to get a read on where he's punching from, with his speed and power, makes him a very dangerous fighters. He's also, in more recent bouts, shown a willingness to take his time when he needs to, and it's clear that he can box as well as bang, and does, as mentioned, have a very good, if somewhat under-utilised, jab.
On paper Rodriguez should be the favourite. He's the better technical fighter, the more proven man and the one with gulf in experience, at least in terms of quality experience. However a lengthy break from the ring, a loss last time out to Inoue and with the comedown from facing a legend like Donaire to facing an unknown like Gaballo could well have an impact on him and his performance.
Gaballo on the other hand will be riding high. He was in training for a bout on this show, and has seen his opportunity improve. He has gone from being on a supporting bout to being in the headline bout, and being given a chance to steal the limelight. We think that get the best from him.
We expect a cautious start, from both, but ring rust and mental doubt will creep into Rodriguez as the bout goes on. By round 4 or 5 we'll start to see Gaballo settle, get comfortable, and put his foot on the gas. We don't think Gaballo will blow Rodriguez out, but we do think he has the power and speed to drop the Puerto Rican, make him gun shy and work his way to a clear decision win, and the WBC "interim" Bantamweight title.
Prediction - Gaballo UD12
On October 31st we'll see Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) return to the ring for what is likely to be his only bout of 2020. The WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion will be defending his straps against Australian challenger Jason Moloney (21-1, 18) in what will be Inoue's Las Vegas debut. The bout was put on due to the less than ideal situation we've seen the world in in 2020, though is certainly not a terrible bout, even if it wasn't the bout we all wanted to see at the start of the year.
Earlier in the year we had hoped to see Inoue defending his titles against WBO champion John Riel Casimero, in what would have been a triple title unification bout. That bout was ear marked for April, though when the world was essentially frozen whilst countries tried to cope with the ongoing global situation, the bout was postponed, and postponed, and postponed, and eventually cancelled. Casimero went his own way, defending his title against Duke Micah back in September, and as a result Inoue was allowed to go his own way, and landed a fight with the highly ranked Moloney.
Amazingly the two men were actually very, very close to fight in 2019. That's when both men were part of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) and were on the same side of the draw. On October 7th 2018 Inoue blasted out Juan Carlos Payano in one of the most eye catching WBSS performances. His next round was against the winner of Jason Moloney Vs Emmanuel Rodriguez, with Rodriguez winning a split decision. We were literally one judge away from seeing these two men clash last year.
Regardless we're here now, and we're about to see them fight, so lets take a look at the men and the way we expect it to go.
The 27 year old Inoue is the jewel in the crown of Japanese boxing. Since turning professional in 2012 he has been on the fast track to the top. In just his third bout he beat the highly regarded Yuki Sano, claimed the Japanese Light Flyweight title in his 4th bout, the OPBF title in his fifth bout and his first world title in his 6th. All of that came in the space of just 18 months. From there on he has blossomed into a star of boxing, drawing the attention of fans around the globe and claiming notable scalp, after notable scalp. In just 19 bouts he has already beaten not just Taguchi but Adrian Hernandez, Omar Andres Narvaez, Kohei Kono, Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Nonito Donaire. Across those 19 fights only Donaire has really had success again Inoue, who has long been dubbed the "Monster".
In the ring Inoue is a fantastic boxer-puncher. He's naturally heavy handed, and his power has carried up from Light Flyweight to Bantamweight with no issues, he's a clean puncher, with incredible handspeed, timing, combinations and footwork. Whilst many top fighters in the sport are extremely good defensively Inoue is an offensive machine, and despite not always being the biggest man in the ring, he is usually the stronger man, and the one dictating the bout, usually from the center of the ring. Although an offensive machine Inoue is a solid defensive fighter, though he's not often had to show that side of what he can do in the ring due to his imposing offensive ability.
Despite being a fantastic fighter there are a bunch of question marks hanging over Inoue's head. Firstly whether or not he's 100% fit for this bout? After all the bout against Donaire resulted in a very nasty eye injury. Second is he going to be rusty after almost a year out? Or count he even be over-trained? After a training camp for a bout with Casimero in April as well as a training camp for this bout
It's fair to say Inoue is the very clear favourite heading in to the bout, but he's certainly not the only man who will be in the ring as Jason Moloney will be there as the hungry under-dog.
The Australian challenger is a 29 year old who debuted in 2014, after being a successful amateur, and, along with brother Andrew, was tipped for major success in the professional ranks. For many years Moloney was busy getting professional experience against regional level fighters, running up numerous wins against Filipino fighters. In 2018 he finally stepped up and easily stopped former world champion Immanuel Naidjala, before scoring a TKO win against former Inoue opponent Kohei Kono. His momentum was growing and he was 17-0 (14) when he entered the WBSS.
Sadly for Moloney his unbeaten record would go in October 2018 when he lost the aforementioned split decision to Emmanuel Rodriguez, who was the then IBF champion. This was a very competitive loss, and a great showing by Moloney, who enhanced his reputation in defeat. He had gone from being an unknown outside of the Asia Pacific scene to a man regarded as a legitimate world class Bantamweight.
Following the loss to Rodriguez we've seen Moloney pick up 4 wins, all by stoppage. They included a win this past June against Leonardo Baez in what was Moloney's Las Vegas debut, and was partly responsible for allowing this bout to take place.
In the ring Moloney is a really, really good boxer. He's got solid power, though not the destructive power of Inoue, he's a very nice mover, very fluid with his foot and hand speed, and a fantastic combination puncher. Every show he throws looks stinging and he's happy to let them go on the inside or the outside. He's also very good at getting in, letting shots go, and getting out. On a punch for punch basis he's less offensively impressive than Inoue, but is still a very good boxer, who has rebuilt brilliantly following his loss to Rodriguez.
As with Inoue there are questions over Moloney. For example what's his chin really like? This is the first time he's taken on a world class puncher, so can he handle it? Will he be able to handle such a big occasion? Has he got a plan B, C and D? As he'll need them against a man like Inoue.
We've seen some fan try to downplay this fight. We'll be honest, we would have preferred the Inoue Vs Casimero bout, of course we would. However Moloney is a world class fighter, he's a better boxer than Casimero, though a much less dangerous puncher and a less experienced fighter. Moloney has got the ability to test Inoue, push Inoue and really ask questions of the "Monster", especially if Inoue is rusty or feeling the effects of last year's war with Donaire.
We expect quite a slow start, with Inoue taking center ring and Moloney showing a lot of caution to Inoue's power. A lot of respect from both. By round 2 or 3 we would expect Inoue to be putting his foot on the gas, pressing more, and cutting the distance. When that happens his brutal body shots will kick in, and we'll see Inoue begin to grind down Moloney.
We would be surprised if that was where Moloney moved to plan B, as mentioned earlier he'll need it. It'll need to be a really good plan B however, and we're not sure it'll be good enough. He'll need to cope with Inoue's power and pressure. Sadly we see that power and pressure, eventually causing cracks, and those cracks widening, until Inoue forces a stoppage somewhere in the middle of the bout.
Prediction - TKO6 Inoue
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.