Earlier today we saw the highly anticipated rematch between Japanese Monster Naoya Inoue (23-0, 20) [井上 尚弥] and Filipino legend Nonito Donaire (41-7, 27), who battled to unify the WBA "super", IBF, WBC and Ring Magazine titles.
The bout was hugely anticipated due, in part, to their brilliant 2019 clash which saw Inoue over-coming a fractured orbital to win a decision over Donaire in the Fight of the Year. This time around we were expecting something just as good, especially given how Donaire had looked since then, blasting out Nordine Oubaali and Reymart Gaballo since that loss.
What few would have anticipated was for Inoue to completely smash Donaire in a way that no one had ever done before.
The opening round started with Donaire looking to land his huge left hook within seconds. It was clear that the "Filipino Flash" wanted to remind Inoue what his power and left hand could do. Sadly for Donaire the shot didn't really land. Following Donaire's earlier left hook Inoue back to box and move, looking for openings and waiting for Donaire to leave a gap. The action seemed tense for a minute, before Inoue began to find a home for his jab, and left Donaire chasing him. The jab of Inoue was sensational, but it wasn't going to hurt Donaire. Instead a left hook with about 35 seconds of round left saw Inoue almost wake Donaire up and the Filipino became more aggressive, before being dropped just moments before the bell from a clinical Inoue right hand. Donaire beat the count, and was lucky there wasn't any of the round left, but it was clear that Inoue didn't want to have this one going rounds.
Given Donaire's excellent chin it was a surprise to see him going down this early, but it was a sign of Inoue's power and a real wake up call to just how spiteful Inoue in Reyes gloves were.
In round 2 Inoue work rate picked up as he looked to take the fight to Donaire, something fighters rarely do. It seemed like Donaire wasn't really expecting to see Inoue go after him like was. Despite being under pressure Donaire did manage try fighting back, but he was wobbled several times by Inoue's power, with the monster backing Donaire on to the ropes and landing a huge right hand. The pressure from Inoue kept coming as he applied an intelligent swarming attack. Donaire tried to fight back but was hurt again, stumbling across the ring. It seemed like he was set to go down but some how he stayed up right, and soon afterwards Inoue was all over him again, unloading to head and body before finally sending Donaire down for the second time in the fight with a clinical left hook, with the referee quickly waving the bout off immediately after the knockdown.
After the bout Inoue attended a press conference and seemed incredibly proud about his performance, whilst explaining he focused on using his speed. He also explained that when he got caught by a left hook he thought he'd give Donaire one back. He also explained that it was like a dream. Notable Inoue also stated that while he is looking to move up to Super Bantamweight he still wants to unify all the Bantamweight titles, and it seems like he wants to face Englishman Paul Butler, the current WBO champion, before moving up in weight. If that bout can't be made by the end of the year however, he will move up in weight.
Inoue also stated that he felt proud to fight against Donaire.
As for Donaire he reportedly cancelled his plans to attend the press conference, and we dare say it is now, finally, time for the legendary Filipino great to hang them up and retire following what has been an incredible career
Over in Liverpool late on Friday night we saw Englishman Paul Butler (34-2, 15) claim one of the most important wins of his career, as he out pointed Filipino Jonas Sultan (18-6, 11) and claimed the WBO "interim" Bantamweight title.
The bout, which was put on on very short notice, was made when the BBBof C refused to allow Johnriel Cassimero to defend the WBO title against Butler, the mandatory challenger, after he was caught using a sauna. As a result Sultan replaced his countryman, and actually the bout as the betting favourite.
The opening round really so very, very, very little from either man as both looked to see what the other hand. In round 2 however the fight slowly started to come alive as Sultan began to come forward, pressing, and looking to make it into a fight whilst Butler boxed on the move, picked his shots well and really showed what he could do a boxer-mover. Rounds 2 and 3 were some of the best of the fight, with both men having moments, and both showing that their tactics could have success.
Sadly for Sultan after round 4 his limitations and gameplan began to look very predictable. He did little to cut the distance and set things up, instead looking to land single big shots, without creating the opportunities to land them. Instead Sultan was often finding himself being tagged by counters, missing and being made to look slow and clumsy, whilst Butler landed sharp, crisp shots that didn't have much on them, but were accurate.
Through much of the middle portion of the bout the action really was all Butler as he looked levels above Sultan, who sadly didn't change anything. It was the same tactic of trudge forward, chasing Butler, rather than cutting the ring off. He never looked capable of timing the Englishman, or putting together combinations with any regularity. It seemed that Sultan's best chance of winning was Butler tiring himself out with all the movement.
It seemed in round 9, that Butler starting to feel the tempo of the action, and it gave Sultan one of his best rounds, and there did, for a few moments, seem like their could be a sting in the tale. Sadly though Sultan couldn't replicate the success in rounds 10 or 11 as Butler created a lot of space, picked his moments and picked up the rounds, even standing and fighting Sultan at times in those rounds as he looked to prove a point.
Going into the final round Sultan needed a knockout, and it never came. It never looked likely to come. Instead Butler did what he needed to to play safe, and take the fight to the final bell, and the scorecards.
The scores were read out, rather hilariously, as 16-12, 18-110 and 117-111, with the ring announcer seemingly a bit clueless. Though all the scores made it clear that Butler had won a wide decision and the WBO interim Bantamweight title, which may be upgraded in the coming weeks, pending a WBO decision onthe status of John Riel Casimero.
After more than 2 years of waiting Japanese fans had the chance to welcome local megastar Naoya Inoue (22-0, 19) [井上 尚弥] back to a Japanese ring earlier today, in what was his first bout at home since beating Nonito Donaire in the WBSS Bantamweight final, in November 2019. Not only did they say the Monster in action however, but they also got a bit of a show, as Inoue retained his WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight world titles and stopped the gutsy, but outclassed, Thai challenger Aran Dipaen (12-3, 11) [แก่นนคร ศักดิ์กรีรินทร์] at the Kokugikan in Tokyo.
The bout, regarded as a massive mismatch going in, served as a home coming for Inoue, and also served as the final world title bout to be held in Japan this year, with Dipaen getting in to the country before Japan close it's borders at the end of November. And in many ways it served it's task, with Dipaen serving as the perfect dance partner.
From the off Inoue was in control. He was too sharp, too fast, too accurate, too crisp and far, far too good. However Dipaen, unlike many Inoue foes, wasn't fearful of the champion and was instead there to change his life, to fight for the upset, and to try and score what would have been one of the biggest shocks of the year. Sadly for Dipaen his desire didn't match his ability, and he struggled, time and time again, to land anything clean, or to avoid the excellent left jab of Inoue's which landed thunderously, like a straight right hand.
Dipaen was out classed, coming off second best every minute of every round. He was however not there to make up the numbers and go away quietly. Instead he played the class clown, the joker, the entertainer, and goaded Inoue numerous times. Raising his hands and telling to bring it, whilst looking to get in his own hard shots. He was game, he was tough, and that was really all he had going for him. And unfortunately, toughness alone will never be enough against someone like Inoue, who began to target the body extensively, and really began hunting his man in round 6. Dipaen's toughness was keeping him upright, but Inoue was beginning to break him mentally and physically.
In round 8 the inevitable happened, as Dipaen was finally dropped and although he got back to his feet, he was done as Inoue went in for the finish and forced the referee to stop the action.
Following the bout Inoue and promoter Hideyuki Ohashi held a press conference. There they again mentioned that they were hoping to face either John Riel Casimero or Nonito Donaire in a 3 title unification bout. It seems however if those bouts can't be made he'll speed up the move to Super Bantamweight, rather than wasting time chasing bouts that won't happen. Inoue saying "I've been sticking to the Bantamweight class with an emphasis on unifying the four classes, but if it doesn't go smoothly, I'm thinking of the super bantamweight class." Thankfully the Super Bantamweight division is one of the best in the sport right now, even if it is a division lacking an A* star name, but Inoue moving there would add that huge name, to a division that has been over-delivering over the last few years.
Last night in Carson, California we saw a rare-all Filipino world title fight as WBC champion Nonito Donaire (42-6, 28) took on mandatory challenged Reymart Gaballo (24-1, 20) in a bout to unify the WBC regular and interim titles.
On paper this looked really interesting. Donaire, at the age of 39, is ancient for a Bantamweight and to be fighting at world level at such an advanced age is amazing at the lower weights. On the other hand Gaballo had looked explosive, exciting and was coming into his physical prime. It seemed like maybe Gaballo would be the right man, in the right place at the right time, or alternatively Donaire was going to add another big win to his record as he continues to push back father time.
The opening round saw Donaire intelligent pressure his man, coming forward and making Gaballo fight off the back foot, something he has never been comfortable doing. Gaballo had moments where he came forward, and moments where he landed, but he looked constantly fearful of Donaire, and his timing and power. When Donaire landed it seemed to clearly take an effect on Gaballo, whilst Gaballo's shots never really phased Donaire. To his credit Gaballo was the quicker man, but and he had that edge, but that was neutralised by the timing of Donaire.
In round 2 Gaballo, usually an aggressive and exciting fighter, was forced to over-think, and look for single shots when Donaire made mistakes. It was clear that Gaballo was losing his self belief, and his in ring identity, well before Donaire clocked him with a big right hand 2 minutes into the round. A right hand that forced Gaballo to hold. Gaballo had moments boxing, moving, moving, moving and jabbing, but it felt like their was an inevitability about things, given how timid he was becoming and how Donaire's pressure was taking a toll.
Gaballo did have a good moment in round 3, getting Donaire's respect, and clearly having one of his best moments as he looked to kick start his effort, but it was merely a flash point in a round that quickly saw Donaire again force Gaballo on to the back foot, and again seemed to show the challenger being hurt. It was technical, tense, but the inevitability remained, and we got a reminder of that when Donaire landed some huge shots late in the round. It felt, sooner or later, like the power of Donaire was going to see off his man, unless Gaballo sold out and went for it.
Donaire, who seemed to get tuned in at the end of round 3, started round 4 well, landing several big shots in the opening minute. Gaballo tried to respond but his successes were limited, hitting the guard or missing completely. Donaire then seemed to go into seek an destroy mode, walking down Gaballo, forcing him to fire back and stand his ground. That left Gaballo in position for a brutal right hand to the mid section with dropped Gaballo. Gaballo did seem to get to his feet, but quickly dropped back to his knees, realising he was in far too much pain to continue.
Following the bout talk emerged of a rematch between Donaire and Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) [井上 尚弥], who will defend his WBA "super" and IBF titles this coming Tuesday. Inoue and his promoter Hideyuki Ohashi have both mentioned the potential rematch, and if Inoue is successful next week it seems their focus will be on setting up this highly anticipated rematch.
Being in the UK I'm used to staying up for fights to cover here, and being up until 4AM or later is pretty much normal. Thankfully usually fights are worth watch, and are between two men wanting to win a fight. Tonight however we got a fight that really had nothing positive to sya about it, with one fighter looking to play a game of run away, against a fighter who was much slower than himself. What we ended up getting was one of, if not the, worst bout of 2021. And it came on a show that also had 16 second No Contest!
The bout in question saw WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21) retain his title with a split decision over Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-2-0-1, 13). And it was a bout that no one should have have to sit through. In fact the highlight of the bout was the crowd, who let the fighters know that what they were getting was total bull shit. The crowd let both men have it with through out the contest.
The fight actually started in exciting fashion with Casimero being aggressive, trying to take the fight to Rigondeaux. He seemed to hurt the Cuban, who bent at the waist and got clobbered for it, something we don't typically see from Rigondeaux opponents, with the Cuban hitting the canvas and taking several shots when he was down. It seemed like the fight was going to be exciting. That was until round 2, when Rigondeaux began to do what Rigondeaux does, and moved. A lot. He moved to the point where he was killing the fight, and whilst he did land a couple of good left hands in round 2 those became less and less and less frequent as the rounds went on.
Instead countering Rigondeaux just moved, and he moved quicker than Casimero, who chased, but failed to cut off the ring. This lead to round, after round, of boos, frustration from everyone. The punch output from both dropped off complete, and the most in ring drama was a late punch from Rigondeaux at the end of round 6. In fact it was the only time he showed any real fire. After that we got pose off, with Casimero trying to mimic Rigondeaux, we got got running, we got chasing, and we got something really would have made the officials of the Olympic Kumite Karate competition very happy.
By round 7 it was hard to care about who was winning and losing. The reality is that we, as fans, were losing. The only saving grace is that we live in 2021, and world title fights are only 12 round affairs.
After 12 rounds the reality is that scorecards could legitimately have said anything. There was very few clear rounds either way, less than 90 combined connects, according to compubox, and the judges really could pick what they want. Casimero's attempt to make a fight, or Rigondeaux's ring general ship, and ability to avoid a fight. The judges, or at least two of them, preferred the work from Casimero, scoring it 117-111 and 116-112 in his favour, against a score of 115-113 to Rigondeaux from a dissenting judge. In reality it's hard to care about the scores, we're just hoping this is the last time Rigondeaux can stink out a televised card. As for Casimero, he'll need a fight next time out where he can re-establish himself as an exciting fighter, and get the taste of this bout out of fans minds.
After close to 8 months out of the ring we saw "Monster" Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) [井上 尚弥] return to the ring late on Saturday night as he took on mandatory challenger Michael Dasmarinas (30-3-1, 20) from the Philippines. And barely broke sweat whilst disposing of the Filipino like a second rate challenger who didn't belong in the ring with him, and retaining his IBF and WBA "super" Bantamweight titles.
The opening round saw Dasmarinas looking confident and calm, for about 20 seconds until he was caught by a left hook. After that his confidence seemed to instantly fade and he went from looking calm to looking jittery and apprehensive of the task in front of him. Things weren't helped when Inoue landed a good right hand, in what was, for the most part, a quiet round. As the round went on Inoue landed a right hand to the body and began to get his jab into play. It was a scouting mission for the champion and a "what have I sign up to" experience from Dasmarinas.
In round 2 we began to see Inoue go through the gears slightly and jittery Dasmarinas began to look more and more nervous as the calm, calculated and relaxed Inoue began to press with more intensity. To his credit Dasmarinas did throw some shots in round 2, but struggled to land much clean, hitting the guard with a handful of shots, and fallign short with numerous others. The real talking point from the round however was a combination from Inoue that featured a glancing left hook to the body. The shot didn't land clean, but moments later Dasmarinas hit the canvas as Inoue began to ramp up the pressure. Dasmarinas beat the count, but spent the rest of the round in survival mode as Inoue looked to take him out, landing several more good body shots before the round was over. To his credit Dasmarinas managed to survive, at least for the entirety of round 2.
Having been dropped in the second round Dasmarinas came out looking to get Inoue's respect early in round 3, and showed some ambition. It was misplaced, however, and an uppercut from Inoue instantly made Dasmarinas realise he was making a mistake. There was some hard jabs that followed as Inoue began to control the distance at will and made Dasmarinas flinch every time he looked at his body. It was clear Dasmarinas wanted to protect his body, but he couldn't and a left hook from Inoue to the midsection did the damage again again, sending Dasmarinas down for a count of 9. There was only around 25 seconds of the round remaining after when the bout resumed, but that was more than enough time Inoue to find the body of Dasmarinas again, sending him down for the third time. This time the referee quickly waved off the bout, rather than allowing Dasmarinas to try and get to his feet, again.
Whilst the bout was widely regarded as a mismatch going in, and proved to be so in the ring, it was still a commanding performance from Inoue. As for Dasmarinas, it's hard to know where he goes from this. He looked completely out of his depth
In 2019 we saw Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27) rollback the clock and give Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue the toughest test of his career. The performance, by some, was regarded as Donaire showing up Inoue's limitations, rather than Donaire actually showing he was still a world class fighter. Today he ended any doubt that he was still world class as he claimed the WBC Bantamweight title in a destructive, and dominant performance against the previously unbeaten Nordine Oubaali (17-1, 12).
From the opening moments Donaire looked bigger, stronger and tougher Oubaali. He also looked smarter, making intelligent little moves to make Oubaali miss. Not only was he making the champion miss, but he was landing his own clean shots, especially the straight right hand which hard alarming success against the quicker, smaller, man. Not only was Donaire landing good right hands up top, but also to the body, taking some of the wind out of Oubaali's sails.
Donaire continued to land right hands through round 2, and despite taking some straight lefts from Oubaali never looked in any problems at all. In fact if anything Oubaali's left hand was just bouncing off Donaire and was only ever being landed in single shots. There was a sense, almost, that if Oubaali took any risks, he was going to pay for them. And he knew it.
In round 3 we finally saw Donaire's trademark left hook, with the Filipino landing it very early in the round. It was almost as if he was taking it out of the arsenal for the first time, and it quickly become the most telling punch of the fight. Part way through round 3 Donaire landed a right hand, then a body shot, Oubaali responded, and had his best success, as he tried to get back on track, before eating a huge counter left hook. It dropped Oubaali hard and despite beating the count he still seemed buzzed when he was allowed to continue. Through much of the rest of the round he looked like a man who was trying to clear his head, but was completely unable to as Donaire press, landing a right hand, a left hook, a huge uppercut, and then, right on the bell, a massive left hook. The left dropped Oubaali for the second time, and he was given an age to recover as Jack Reiss gave him every benefit of the doubt he could to allow him to go to his corner to end the round.
With Donaire's left hook now well in play, and Oubaali looking done at the end of round 3, the bout looked like it was over. Reiss should have stopped the bout. Oubaali's corner should have saved their man. Instead we proceded with round 4, and unsurprisingly Donaire was quickly in control again, landing right hands, uppercuts, a left hook, and really battering Oubaali who offered little. Then the Filipino landed a brutal left uppercut, dropping Oubaali for the third time. This time Jack Reiss finally decided enough was enough and waved off the bout.
Following the win donaire, who has now set the record for the oldest ever Bantamweight champion, stated that he wanted unification and seemed very open to a rematch with the "Monster", which would be something special. Much like their first bout.On the back of this performance it's clear Donaire might be old, but is not show, like many had been suggesting when he entered the WBSS. In fact if anything he looks like a man rejuvenated by the move to Bantamweight, which he made in 2018 to enter the WBSS.
As for Oubaali, it's hard to see where he goes from here. This was a seriously punishing, damaging, and hurtful loss. With his 35th birthday coming later this year, and with this loss, he'll have a long way to climb back to a title fight, and this loss may well be the end of his career.
Whilst some will discuss the issues at the end of round 3, with the punch thrown pretty much on the bell, it was, at most, an accidental foul, and at best came on the bell. It perhaps should have stopped the fight, Oubaali did not seem fight to continue. There will be discussions about it, and some will see it as a huge controversy. The reality however is they could rematch and given this performance Oubaali would be stopped again. He simply couldn't take the power of Donaire's left hook.
To close out a Showtime event earlier today we saw Filipino slugger Reymart Gaballo (24-0, 20) face off with former IBF Bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-2, 12), in a contest for the WBC "interim" Bantamweight title. A contest that turned out to be a very, very controversial one, with Gaballo taking on a hugely questionable decision.
On paper this looked like it had the ingredients to be a very interesting match up, between an exciting slugger and a very good technical boxer. In the end however it never became the type of fight had expected. In fact seemed like the aggression and excitement of Gaballo had been stripped from him before the opening bell. Gone was the Gaballo we had fallen in love with and instead he was replaced by someone who didn't seem to know his identity in the ring.
Gone was the Gaballo that let shots fly, that was aggressive and wild. In his place was a man over-thinking things, and a man who was trying to out box a master boxer. It was a huge technical faux pas by Gaballo and his team, and one that seemed very counter-intuitive, given their man's best strength has always been his unpredictable offense.
Gaballo's attempt at boxing in the first round saw Rodriguez easily take the first, though to his credit Gaballo did kick up the pace and made round 2 a very competitive one, much more so than the commentary on Showtime made things seem. It was a similar case in round 3, where Rodriguez landed more shots, comfortably, than Gaballo, but the bigger single shots were from Gaballo, and it could well have been that the bigger heavier blows had caught the judges eyes.
In round 4 we saw Gaballo march forward, trying to up the pace of the bout, but he kept walking into counters and jabs. Rodriguez was, for the most part, outboxing Gaballo, but still the Filipino was the one who was making it look like he was aggressive. Horribly ineffective, but aggressive all the same. This could well have made an impact on the judges, who may well have seen the movement from Rodriguez as being negative, and he was very conservative with his own output.
Despite several competitive rounds Rodriguez really impressed in round 5, and seemed to not just let more of his own shots go, landing a number of solid right hands, but also completely shut down Gaballo, who looked lost and confused through the entire round. Credit though to Gaballo, who then began to find his groove in round 6, making for another competitive and close round. He was still being out landed, but once again he seemed to land the bigger shots, and made things uncomfortable for Rodriguez, who technically very accurate, but relied on his jab and movement, in what could have been seen as negative, again, in the eyes of the judges.
With Gaballo knowing he was behind he did, finally, get the motor going in round 7 and had a string string of rounds, much stronger than Showtime's commentary would suggest, in rounds 7, 8 and 9. Although still not the aggressive he had been in the past, such as against Yuya Nakamura, he was a lot more willing to let his shots go, and found a home for his body shots, his left hook and his right hand, even dragging Rodriguez into his fight in round 8.
Interestingly after 9 rounds Showtime's Steve Farhood had given Gaballo just 2 rounds, and he seemed to have been annoyed at needing to give him round 9. The team working for Spanish language TV on ESPN had the bout much, much closer at 86-85. More important than the scores however was the momentum, and it seemed like Gaballo was the man in the ascendency.
Sadly for Gaballo he was rocked early in round 10, and he did nothing to turn the action back in his favour in one of his worst rounds. The Filipino also seemed to struggle to get things going in round 11 as Rodriguez seemed to be back in control with his jab, his movement, and his ability to make Gaballo miss at will. In fact Gaballo seemed to miss that often that he became timid himself and in round 12 he again showed little hunger and desire and Rodriguez took the final round without much effort.
After 12 rounds Showtime had the bout a near shut out to Rodriguez, Spanish TV had the bout competitive, though also had Rodriguez winning. It seemed like the Puerto Rican was set to pick up the WBC interim title, then the scores were announced, with the first score being 116-112 to Gaballo, the second card being 118-110 to Rodriguez, and then the third card went 115-113 to Gaballo, giving him a very questionable decision.
The result will be one held as a robbery, and many will feel that Rodriguez was denied a clear victory. We'll admit that we felt Rodriguez won, though it does need saying the Showtime's commentary really did down play the success that Gaballo had, especially in the 3 or 4 close rounds we had early on.
We can also see how the judges perhaps did favour Gaballo, he wasn't effective, but from the ringside position he likely looked like the man making the fight, pressing the pace, and doing so much more than Rodriguez, who looked tentative at times and boxed very much within himself. From the TV camera angle the clean punches of Rodriguez were clean, and the misses of Gaballo were obvious, but from the outside looking in it probably didn't look the same, and Rodriguez probably did look negative.
Saying that however, this seemed like a decision that went the wrong way, and was the latest set back for Rodriguez, who was stopped by Naoya Inoue last time out, well over a year ago, in the WBSS, and had seen bouts with Luis Nery and Nonito Donaire fall through due to issues outside of his control.
As for Gaballo, he got lucky, and perhaps needs to be allowed to be himself in the ring. Let him be an aggressive swarming fighter. Don't try to reinvent the wheel with him. Yes polish his style, make him more defensively aware and smarten him up, but don't try to change him into a boxer. It is not a style which will suit him and he will not get lucky again like he did here.
After close to a year out of the ring we saw the long awaited ring return of WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight champion "Monster" Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥], who was fighting for the first time since his WBSS triumph last November. Not only did we see Inoue, but we saw him in Las Vegas for the first time, and as a Top Rank fighter, for the first time.
In the opposite corner to the Monster was Australian challenger Jason Moloney (21-2, 18), dubbed "Mayhem". A talented, brave, confident fighter who was looking to make a name for himself. The Australian had talked a good fight before hand, entered full of confidence and seemed to genuinely believe he could shock the boxing world.
Before we got to the opening bell the fighters came out to almost the music you'd expect them to. Moloney, the challenger, came out first to the classic "I come from a Land Down Under" by Men At Work, a song long that many Australian fighters come out to. Inoue on the other hand came out to "Departure" by Japanese composer Naoki Sato, a song that we have seen Inoue use in his ring walk numerous times, including a live performance a few years ago by Akira Jimbo.
The opening round saw both men fighting relatively evenly. It wasn't a typical feeling out round, but it wasn't a round where either man landed too much in terms of power shots. It was very much a round where both men used a lot of jabs, set a high tempo, but boxed within themselves. There was respect from both, and both men took their time to see what the other hand, whilst staying busy themselves.
In round 2 we again saw the jabs of both men being the most used punches, however we did begin to see Inoue going into his arsenal of weapons. By the end of the round we were seeing Inoue's right hand and a left hook, very late in the round. It was a competitive round, as was the first, but both were Inoue rounds, with out too much discussion.
By round 3 we had started to see Inoue changing his tactics. He was starting to get more aggressive, more confident, and was starting to walk down Moloney. To his credit the Australian was taking clean shots really well, including a series of big right hands at the end of round 3, but it did feel like Inoue was starting to feel alarmingly comfortable.
That comfort level for the champion rose again in rounds 4 and 5, as he went into seek and destroy mode, applying intense, and persistent pressure. It was a credit that Moloney was surviving, though he was trying to do more than just survive, and landed one or two shots of his own. Sadly for him those shots did next to nothing to discourage Inoue, who was quickly realising he could take whatever Moloney was going to land without issue. Moloney however, wasn't afford the same benefit and in round 5 he was wobbled for the first time, and was forced to hold on late in the round.
Inoue continued to fight on the front foot in round 6, but it was actually a counter that proved to be his best asset, as he dropped Moloeny for the first time in the bout, doing so with a counter left hook. Moloney was up quickly, but Inoue could smell blood, and spent much of the round piling on the punishment as Moloney began to have his body and confidence eroded.
It seemed like it was only a matter of time until we'd see the end, though how would it come was unclear. As we entered round 7 the referee was making it clear that he wouldn't allow the punishment to continue for too much longer, Moloney's corner were also aware their man was taking a lot of punishment.
They weren't needed however as Inoue closed the show with a massive counter right hand late in round 7. The shot was a beauty, landing clean as a whistle. It dropped Moloney, who then crouched before trying to get up, then stumbled as he tried to get to his feet. He knew where he was, but his body didn't want to do what he told it. The referee instantly waved it off.
Following the win Inoue mentioned that he wanted to face either WBO champion John Riel Casimero or WBC champion Nordine Oubaali, who defends his title in December against former Inoue foe Nonito Donaire.
Interestingly the big worry coming into this was whether Inoue's right eye would hold up, after it was injured against Donaire last November. It did. There was no notable swelling or damage after the fight. Whether it continues to hold up in the future is unclear, but the way it was after this fight was certainly a positive.
Amazingly Inoue's title defense here was only the third time a Japanese world champion has successfully defended a world title in Las Vegas. He follows in the footsteps of Toshiaki Nishioka and Tomoki Kameda. His win was also the first time a Japanese fighter has beaten an Australian in a world title fight away from Japan.
As for Moloney it is going to be hard to comeback from this. He didn't get smashed to bits, or take a career ending amount of punishment, but his confidence, which was sky high when he entered the bout, will take some real rebuilding after this loss. He did however show toughness, bravery, and survived longer than most would have expected.
For both men it's unclear what will be next. We suspect Inoue will want to fight back in Japan in early 2021, potentially the Casimero fight or a mandatory defense of one of his titles, whilst Moloney will need to rebuild his confidence, but hopefully will face a fringe level type of guy, rather than dropping to facing really low level opponents. He's better than that.
It's fair to say that 2020 has been a frustrating year for WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (30-4, 21), who had been hoping to face Naoya Inoue in April, before that bout was cancelled. That frustration seemed to give him some real hunger to shine when he stepped into the ring earlier today and took on the previously unbeaten Duke Micah (24-1, 19).
From the opening round we saw Casimero set off to make a statement. There was no feeling out round, instead it was bombs away, and the aggression of Casimero forced Micah to respond, giving us an incredible opening round. Both men were throwing bombs, and both were landing bombs in what was a shoot out.
Straight from the bell we saw both landing bit shots to the body, as they both tried to snap the other in half. In regards to head shots Casimero wasn't throwing too many in the opening round, and was actually caught by the best head shot of the round, but it seemed to bounce off him.
The bombs continued to fly in round 2. Quite early in the round however the power of Casimero turned the fight, with a short, compact left hook wobbling Micah, who stumbled and dropped to the canvas. The knockdown wasn't fight ending by it's self, but did seem like the start of the end, with Casimero all over Micah for the rest of the round. Some how Micah survived the onslaught, and fought back valiantly with some solid shots of his own. Although Micah was showing his toughness he was taking a lot of punishment, as Casimero began to have fun, taunting and loading up on uppercuts.
To his credit Micah survived the round though was given a look over by the doctor just seconds into round 3. It was clear the doctor and the referee was aware he had taken a lot of punishment, and the referee made it clear he had to show something.
Sadly for Micah he was in with someone who wasn't wanting to mess around and Casimero continued to press for a stoppage. Micah continued to show his bravery, landing a big body shot himself, but couldn't stop himself being overwhelmed by Casimero. This forced the referee, Steve Willis, to step in and call a halt to the contest.
The win was real a statement from Casimero, who seemed to realise this was his chance to make a name for himself in front of a US TV audience. He realised he had a chance to become a star, and he took that chance with both hands. This was explosive, exciting, and the type of bout that leaves an impression on fans who, perhaps, weren't too aware of Casimero.
As for Micah he was game, he tried to compete with Casimero, but he was very much out of his depth, and that was clear pretty early on. Despite his loss we suspect he will come again and even in defeat he would have made fans for his heart, toughness, and desire.
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.