The final big fight of the weekend saw us shifting our focus to Mexico to see IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran (14-2-1, 11) face off with Daniel Valladares (22-2-1, 13). This had the potential to be something very special, with both men being willing to let their hands go and fight.
Sadly the bout failed to truly live up it's potential, but it did end up being a fight well worthy of a watch, with 2 brilliantly matched fighters involved in it.
From the opening round it was clear that Taduran hadn't travelled with losing on his mind, and set a high tempo from the opening bell. On the other hand the more technically skilled Valladares looked to create room and space to work with, but it was the pressure of Taduran which seemed to catch the eye, and he seemed to rock the challenger once or twice before the round was over.
Notably the major talking point from the opening 3 minutes wasn't actually a punch, but instead a big accidental headclash that left Valladares badly cut on his right eye. The cut essentially meant that the bout wasn't going to go 12, unless miracles could be done by his corner.
Despite being cut Valladares fought a smart second round and began to control the distance better, limiting Taduran's raids along the way. It was just what the challenger needed to give his cut time to heal.
In round 3 the touch paper was lit, with both men putting their foot on the gas and letting their shots go more freely. The increase in action saw both men having moments as we began to see more and more frequent back and forth fighter, in what an excellent round. It seemed like Valladares may have just sneaked it, but it was close either way and set the platform for an intense and thrilling round 4 that saw almost none stop trading from the two men. This was a sensational round, with both wanting to make a statement.
Sadly the bout was curtailed after the 4th round to the cut, which had become uncontrollable and was covering Valldares' face with claret, and we went to the judges scorecards early. One of the 3 wise men gave the bout to Valledares, but thankfully he was over-ruled by the other 2 judges who both gave the bout to Taduran, who retains his title with a 4th round technical draw.
Given how exciting the bout was, and how it was really warming up when we hit the premature conclusion, we would love to see a rematch here, for both men. However we wouldn't be surprised if both ended ups going in different directions.
Every so often the sport gives us a fight that's really intriguing in a lot of ways going in. A fight that we expect to see fighters answering questions in and giving us competitive, high level pugilistic chess. Just moments ago we had one such bout in Miami, in what turned out to be an excellent contest at Super Bantamweight.
The bout saw unbeaten Uzbek hopeful Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6) [Ахмадалиев, Муроджон Кахарович] taking a huge step up in class to take on IBF and WBA unified Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Roman (27-3-1, 10). On paper the bout was excellent, with both men having a lot of questions to answer.
How was Roman going to look after a lengthy lay off? And how was he going to fight after an injury? On the other hand could "MJ" do 12 rounds? Would he be able to survive Roman's pressure?
In the end every question we had before the fight was answered, and in a really positive fashion. Roman looked good after the lay off and injury, MJ could do 12 rounds, and could survive Roman's pressure. And best of all we got a sensationally good fight, from the first round to the final round.
The bout started with MJ on top, establishing himself in the first minute or so, though Roman came back into things well as the round went on.
MJ seemed to have the edge in speed, and power, and used those well early in the fight, making Roman pay with some huge southpaw lefts, followed by stiff jabs. It seemed like most of the big, eye catching shots were landing from MJ, though Roman was starting to find the space for his uppercut.
After seemingly taking an early lead Akhmadaliev was then beginning to be asked questions in the middle rounds as Roman finally began to get a foot hold in the bout, with an excellent in round 4, which began to turn the tide his way. It was around here that Roman's work rate began to amp up and MJ began to take his foot off the gas just a touch. Despite Roman getting more success, MJ did try some veteran tricks, trying to finish rounds with big attacks to steal the round. Those tricks didn't stop Roman's charge, and he continued to have success with his body work.
The game plan was clear for Roman, break down the novice and drown him late. It was the smart gameplan but one that MJ saw off, and as we got into the later rounds MJ got his second win, re-establishing himself with big power shots and some glorious combinations. He seemed to begin breaking down Roman, in what was a surprising turn of events. It was this late charge that gave MJ some breathing space, but not much as we went into the final round.
Rather strangely the unbeaten challenger took round 12 off, skipping and circling around the ring whilst a determined Roman pressed, unleashing an incredibly volume of punches. Roman got inside and unloaded body shots, uppercuts and really forced the tempo whilst the challenger did almost nothing. It was as if Akhmadaliev felt he had already won, whilst Roman was desperate to keep the titles.
After going 12 rounds the bout felt close, and the score cards shown it, with the first card going 115-113 in favour of Roman, then a card of 115-113 to Akhmadaliev, then a third card of 115-113, giving the split decision to Akhmadaliev.
In the end it felt like the right guy got it. He impressed us almost from the first bell to the last and his performance answered a lot of the questions we had about him before the bout. We didn't like the way he fought round 12, and it's possible his power isn't as devastating as originally assumed, though is still very solid, but he genuinely impressed and it's going to be very exciting to see how his reign develops from here.
For Akmadaliev to be a unified champion in just 8 bouts, and to beat a fighter like Roman is outstanding.
As for Roman, we expect to see him remaining in the title mix. He might need to wait for another shot, but given his style, and his approach in the ring another chance will come for the exciting and highly skilled American.
When people start talking about fight of the year or round of the year when there is still an Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16) [八重樫 東] fight on the calendar they are making a mistake. They should always wait for Yaegashi to fight for the final time in the year before making any sort of lists! Today Yaegashi finished his year off as he challenged IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (39-2, 26), and unsurprisingly we ended with an exciting action fight.
The bout actually began in a less than thrilling fashion with Yaegashi fighting on his bike, using his footwork and boxing smart. It's something he's always had in his arsenal, but was last seen being used properly years ago, when he beat Edgar Sosa, way back in December 2013. If Akira fought smart we weren't going to get a classic, but there's a good chance he could fiddle himself to a decision victory.
That, of course, isn't Yaegashi's style. There's a reason Yaegashi has such a cult fan base and a reason he is regarded as a warrior. That is because smart boxing isn't him. He can do it, but it's not him. Instead having a fight is Yaegashi's style. By the third round, Mthalane was inviting Yaegashi into fight, and Yaegashi took the invitation, standing his ground more and fighting toe to toe with Mthalane, with the two men taking it in turns to unload flurries of shots.
Through rounds 4, 5 and 6 we had none stop action, each of those rounds could be considered for round of the year, with each of the rounds swinging one way then the other. One man seemed hurt, then they responded with a flurry of their own, hurting the other man. Not only were they hurting each other, but they were fighting an insane pace for two men who are the wrong side of 35. Sooner or later the tempo was going to catch up with one of them.
Sadly in round 7 it was Yaegashi was caught by the pace, and by a body shot from Mthalane. He tried to recover, tried to walk it off, and "old man" Mthalane, but the South African was having none of it, and kept the pressure up, not allowing Yaegashi to recover. To his credit Yaegashi's toughness kept him up right, and kept him fight, but it was clearly a diminished Yaegashi, who was starting to run on fumes, and take huge unanswered shots. Those fumes were however running out themselves and in round 8, with Mthalane landing an ever increasing number of shots, a stoppage began to look inevitable.
With Yaegashi's face swelling up, engine running low and the momentum clearly swinging in favour of Mthalane it seemed as if the Japanese warrior was going to need a miracle. Sadly for him that miracle never came as Mthalane continued to beat him up. It was getting one sided and in round 9 the referee seemed to be looking for a moment to stop the fight. His moment was a weird one, given that Yaegashi had stumbled a few moments earlier but was beginning to return fire, but it's hard to complain too much at the stoppage. Yaegashi, as he has often been, was too tough for his own good and the referee knew it.
Given Yaegashi turns 37 in February and has been in far too many wars for his own good it now seems like a good time to bow out, and retire, following yet another sensational fight. Round 4 in particular will be a hard one to forget. He could have made life easier for himself through much of his career, but the high, and lows, of Yaegashi's career have made him a Japanese legend. Hopefully retirement is next for a man who has given the sport so much during his often dramatic, always thrilling, rollercoaster like career.
As for Mthalane, the timeless South African is still a sensational fighter at the age of 37. He's ancient for a Flyweight but rarely have we seen him look his age, or looking on the verge of being stopped. He's tough, smart, and can change the direction of a fight. Whilst we suspect he's probably only got 1 or 2 more big fights, like this, in him he is a man who is racking up a Japanese-Killer reputation, with 3 successive wins against Japanese fighters, and is stacking his record with notable wins. It's a huge shame his first reign as the IBF champion ended the way it did, but he's making up for it in style now. A bout with Giemel Magramo, the highest ranked IBF contender, would be something that would be very appealing, and may well be next for the exceptional champion.
Some bouts are fantastic match ups, worthy of getting excited about. Other however are mismatches from the moment they are signed, and every one knows it. They are bouts that do not need to exist in this sport, especially not at world level featuring a long term world champion who is still looking to secure a career defining fight, more than 3 years after winning his title.
Yesterday in Mexico IBF Super Bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22) recorded his 8th defense as he made very, very, light work of the over-matched and under-whelming Miguel Gonzalez (31-3, 8).
On paper this might have looked a fine bout, both guys having over 30 wins, only a few losses combined. In reality however Ancajas had long proven he was world class. He had shown his ability against solid world level opponents, had should be in the ring with fellow world class fighters. Gonzalez on the other hand had been soundly beaten by his 2 best opponents, the excellent Andrew Moloney and a pre-prime Paul Butler. Not only had Gonzalez lost his two bouts of note, but he had nothing to offer Ancajas as a test. He wasn't a dangerous puncher, he did have elite level boxing skills, he was little more than a regional level fighter with a padded record.
He was, essentially, a South American answer to those Thai's we see with fancy looking records that have no depth or quality to them. Just the numbers.
To his credit Gonzalez made a go of things. He was thrown in with a shark and tried to battle it. Sadly though Gonzalez's battle with Ancajas was only ever going to end one way, and despite his toughness keeping him in the bout the pressure, the body and the excellent boxing skills of Ancajas were far too much.
In round 6 Gonzalez was finally saved by the referee. He was still on his feet, but was a beaten, battered man and it was clear things were only going to get worse.
Whilst some of Ancajas' reign can be defended due to mandatory obligations, with bouts against the likes of Teiru Kinoshita, Jonas Sultan and Ryuichi Funai being mandatories, it's now time he chases one of the division's other world class fighters. Although some are tied up with Eddie Hearn and DAZN others, such as Kazuto Ioka, Francisco Rodriguez Jr or Froilan Saludar, aren't, and we also have the shadow of Kosei Tanaka approaching the division in 2020. Ancajas needs to put his foot down and demand real tests now.
This weekend was one that promised a lot, though had seen a couple of bouts we'd expected to be great just fail to deliver the action we'd hoped for. Thankfully however some bouts delivered. And boy did we ever get one that delivered, between two Asian fighters in the US.
Whilst Alexander Povetkin Vs Michael Hunter may end up going down as the bout of the weekend, in terms of action and drama, it was given a great run for it's money by IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title bout. A bout that saw champion Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17) [岩佐 亮佑] stop Filipino Marlon Tapales (33-3, 16).
The bout saw Tapales enter as the favourite, and with Iwasa's losses all coming to southpaws you could see why people fancied the hard hitting Filipino lefty. We though the southpaw issue would prove to be a major factor in the bout as well.
What we ended up seeing however was a fantastic 2 way bout, at least in the early going, and Iwasa's finest performance to date. A performance that, like his original world title win against Yukinori Oguni, showed he had world class ability, even if we don't see it consistently.
The bout started at a great pace, and although Iwasa was typically getting the better of things, with his higher tempo and using his reach well. It was however notable that Iwasa's power was having an effect and in round 3 he dropped Tapales, for the first time in the fight. Tapales began to change tactics following the knockdown, and looked for a single punch to change the fight. It was a foolish move given he was so much shorter than Iwasa.
As the fight war on Iwasa's domination got more and more commanding and by round 10 it looked like he was going to cruise to a decision. A second knockdown in round 11 changed that though, as Iwasa dropped Tapales for the second time, with a left hand. Tapales managed to beat the count but failed to convince the referee he was fit to continue, forcing the referee to halt the bout.
Given his performance here Tapales looks about done at world level. A shame, given how good his previous world title bouts were. As for Iwasa what ever they did in training for this worked, and they need to keep with it, at times he looked brilliant, and a far cry from the listless fighter who lost to the IBF Super Bantamweight title to TJ Doheny.
In theory next in line for Iwasa is either Danny Roman or Murodjon Akhmadaliev, though it's still pretty unclear what is happening to their bout which was scheduled to take place in September before falling through due to an injury to Roman.
Just moments after Naoya Inoue's (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] younger brother, Takuma Inoue, lost in his challenge for the WBC Bantamweight title the "Monster" walked out to face Filipino icon Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26), played in by the sounds of iconic Japanese musician Tomoyasu Hotei, marking a change from Noriako Sato's "Departure".
The occasion however called on something special, the WBSS Bantamweight final. The bout to crown the Muhammad Ali trophy winner, and to unify the WBA, IBF, WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine titles. It was the conclusion of a tournament that had started more than a year ago, and been a genuinely global tournament with fights in Lafayette, Orlando, Ekaterinburg, Glasgow and Yokohama before concluding with this bout in Saitama.
Many had expected this to be a mismatch. The next quick win for the Monster, he was around 1/9 to win and and it was 1/3 for the bout not to go beyond 4 rounds. This was expected to be little more than a formality. On paper it was the WBSS final the fighters wanted, but maybe not the fans. In the end however it was the final we deserved, and it was a genuine Fight of the Year Contender.
The fight started with Inoue looking razor sharp, and landing everything he wanted against Donaire in the first round. Donaire however never seemed phased until early in round 2, when he was rocked, and hurt for the first time in the fight. Donaire however turned the tide later in round 2 when he landed he patented left hook, cutting Inoue over the right eye, and Inoue the first cut of his career. The cut seemed to make Inoue wary and in rounds 3 Inoue boxed smart, moving, backing off and staying say behind his quicker foot work. That smart boxing allowed him to regain his grip on the bout
In round 4 Inoue began to unload on Donaire with bigger shots as the Filipino walked forward, trying to wear Inoue down. It was a risky strategy from the Filipino but one that he felt could work as he continued to press, walking through shots that would have dropped anyone else in the division. He was hurt a few times, including wobbling in round 5, but managed to come through the storm and leave Inoue with a bloodied nose.
The pressure of Donaire again came at a cost in rounds in rounds 6 and 7 as he was left being out boxed. Inoue combined both smart movement, heavy shots and jabs to chip away at Donaire, and in round 7 it looked like the work of Inoue had done it's job. Donaire was looking slow, and worse for war.
Despite having the moment things changed massively in rounds 8 when he hurt Inoue early in the round with a great right hand. For much of the round Donaire was the boss, and it suddenly seemed like all the pressure from Donaire had began to have the desired effects. By the end of the round blood was streaming down Inoue's face as the cut from the right eye worsened, and he took more punishment in one round than we'd seen from him in his entire career. That was followed by another huge Donaire round, and by the the end of round 9 Inoue had seemingly put his aggressive mindset to bed, boxing and moving, and trying all he could to avoid the power of Donaire.
Momentum again shifted in round 10 as Inoue showed some new found energy, and despite taking some heavy shots himself he managed to hurt Donaire, wobbling him seconds before the bell. Inoue knew it was a big shift and roared to the packed out Saitama arena when he got back to his corner. It was as mush a roar of defiance as a was a war call, telling the fans he was okay, and was going to go back on the offensive. Which he did!
In round 11 Inoue dominated Donaire, as he went for the finish, hurting Donaire badly with a left hand to the body. The shot seemed to put Donaire down for the count, though the referee allowed Donaire up at 10. It was a brave call from the referee but a desire to let a veteran like Donaire go out on his shield, if he needed to. Despite getting to his feet Donaire took a hammering through the rest of the of round as Inoue went all out for the finish. In some places that would have been in. Enough was enough. Here however the fight continued and we went into the final round, something that few expected, and even fewer would have anticipated after the knockdown.
Some how Donaire had recovered by the start of the final round, but Inoue maintained his aggressive mentality and went for the finish again. Donaire somehow saw off the round, with only his incredible toughness keeping him up and fighting back as the two traded shots at the bell.
It seemed like a clear win on the scorecards for Inoue, he had been tested, he had been hurt, he had been cut, he had been shaken, but he had racked up the rounds. And two of the judges agreed, scoring it 116-111, 117-109 and 114-113.
The first two scores seemed about right, and we had it 117-110, giving Donaire rounds 2, 8 and 9, though we really need to query what Robert Hoyle had been watching as he some how had the bout decided by the knockdown in round 11. A bizarre score, that really does need explaining.
With the win Inoue claims the WBA Super title, retains the IBF and Ring Magazine titles and adds the Muhammad Ali trophy to his collection of silverware whilst Donaire likely bows out of professional boxing with one of his greatest ever performances, even if it did come in a loss.
On paper the month of October looked good for fight fans, but it's hard to really believe how lucky we've been already, with the first weekend of the month giving us a thrilling, dramatic and action packed Middleweight title bout.
The bout in question saw Kazakhstan's Gennady Golovkin's (40-1-1, 35) [Геннадий Геннадьевич Головкин] become a 2-time world champion as he reclaimed the IBF Middleweight title in a narrow, and very hard fought, bout against talented Ukrainian fighter Sergey Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10).
Golovkin got off to the ideal start. He looked sharp from the off and dropped Derevyanchenko with a right hand. He had landed a big one earlier in the round and looked like he could be on for a relatively easy win. Derevyanchenko got up from the knockdown, but was hurt again late in the round. The second round was another that went really well for the Kazakh who landed a big left hook, and found success with his body shot and jab. Derevyanchenko was also hindered by suffering a cut in the round.
After 2 rounds it really did seem like the 37 year old Golovkin was on route to a straight forward win.The bout however turned in round 3 when Derevyanchenko began to turn the bout into a dog fight, getting up close and getting success to the body. The Ukrainian's body attack hurt Golovkin and put the Kazakh on the back foot, making him cover up. For one of the first times in his career it seemed like Golovkin was hurt, and Derevyanchenko knew how to get to the Golovkin. Through the middle rounds the pressure and body shots of Derevyanchenko caught the eye, and he really seemed to have adapted a gameplan that not only let him have success, but also smothered the power of Golovkin who couldn't get full extension on his shots.
Golovkin managed to build some success of his own as he found his range again in round 6. It was a much better round for the Kazakh, though Derevyanchenko did hold his own through the round. It was a platform for Golovkin who managed to have more success in round 7, one of his best rounds. It looked like the KAzakh was turning the tide in his favour, but he was putting a lot in and really was looking his 37 years in the corner, as he sat breathing very heavily.
The 8th started with a doctor's inspection of the Derevyanchenko's cut, which was ruled to have come from a headclash back in round 2, and the doctor was happy to let the fight go on. It was another great round of back and forth action, and one where Golovkin had some of his best success, with 2 huge body shots. The pressure continued to come from Derevyanchenko but it was less effective as he began to tire. Incredibly however Derevyanchenko came roaring back in rounds 9 and 10, having Golovkin again in his shell and backing up under the pressure of Derevyanchenko and his quick combinations when he came in.
By the championship rounds it was clear the bout was close, it had been gruelling and both men were looking tired. Derevyanchenko again tried to apply his pressure but struggled to have consistency through the round, whilst the more conservative Golovkin landed the higher quality shots. That was the case in the final 2 rounds, as Derevyanchenko fought on will, more than skill, as he continued to try and impress the judges.
After 12 rounds, something that seemed unlikely after the start Golovkin had had, we went to the judges. The fight had been close, and could have gone either way, and when cards of 114-113 and 115-112, twice, were read out, it was unclear which way they were going. Unfortunately for Derevyanchenko they didn't go his way, instead they went with the Kazakh, who had been pushed hard in one of his toughest bouts.
Through the fight it seemed like Golovkin had shown his age. The 37 year old couldn't keep the intensity that we'd seen earlier in his career, and he was backed up a lot more often than we'd typically see from him. He was slower, less active, and hurt, several times, from body shots. For Derevyanchenko this was a second, razor thin, loss in a world title bout.
The post fight comments seemed to suggest a rematch could be in the offing, and if that happens we'd love to see it, though we feel that perhaps it's time for Golovkin to hang them up. He looked his age, he looked like a man who had been in a lot of hard bouts and seems a lot, lot more beatable than he has in the past. He took the win, and maybe this is the perfect time to hang them up, going out on a high as the IBF champion, and putting to bed any chance of losing again.
In 2018 we had 2 All Filipino world title fights and, if we're being, they were both really underwhelming and won't be remembered for long. Today we had another, and today's the polar opposite as we had an all action contest with Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11) and Samuel Salva (17-1, 10) trading blows for the IBF Minimumweight title.
Taduran, getting his second world title fight, fought all out with an aggressive mentality. In the opening round that was a tactic that left many questioning what he was doing, as the more technically well schooled Salva countered him regularly with right hands. Salva's defensive skills and counter punching made it seem like he had the answer to Taduran's southpaw stance and pressure.
The second round saw Taduran tweak his tactics slightly, changing from coming forward behind his southpaw left hand to using his right hook. Despite the change Salva still seemed to get the better of it, though Taduran certainly had some moments.
Taduran continued to press, intently, in round 3. Early in the round he paid for it, again, as Salva landed a number of big right hands, however Taduran just refused to back off. Instead of backing up and reconsidering his gameplan Taduran just continued to charge forward and and quickly pinned Salva on the ropes, working away, and hurting his man. Salva never really recovered and quickly put in survival mode whilst Taduran jumped on him, hunting the stoppage. To his credit Salva showed bravery and toughness, but Taduran just refused to give him space to breath. Some how, and we really don't know how, Salva made it to the bell to get a minutes rest.
That minute wasn't long enough and when the fight resumed in round 4 Taduran was again all over him, and forced Salva to resort to headbutting to try and survive. The headbutts were caught by the referee who took a point from Salva in round 4. That really didn't matter and Taduran continued to beat his man up to the bell.
Having taken 2 rounds of serious punishment and seemingly running on fumes Salva remained in his corner at the end of round 4, not coming out for the 5th.
With this win Taduran becomes the latest Filipino world champion whilst it's back to the drawing board for Salva, who lost his unbeaten record here, and took real damage. Salva is still young enough to bounce back, and is still very skilled, but needs to add a lot to his game if he's to reach the top. He also needs to hope this hasn't damaged long term, as it was pretty sustained damage for 6 minutes.
To end a super busy weekend of fights attention turned to the Portopia Hotel in Kobe as Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) [小西伶弥] challenged hard hitting IBF Light Flyweight champion Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30).
The bout, which had no live TV coverage, promised a lot. Whilst the TV coverage lacked it was streamed via the team of Konishi's and proved to be a genuinely compelling contest, from start to end, with Alvarado's power punching going up against Konishi's physical strength and toughness. It wasn't the all out war we were expecting, but it sure was an engaging, and thrilling contest.
From the opening round it was clear neither man was there just to pick up a pay cheque, with Konishi pressing forward, trying to smother the power of Alvarado, whilst the Champion found room to get his shots off. Konishi, to his credit, got plenty off himself in the early stages, often forcing Alvarado backwards and unleashing flurries of shots to head and body, but it was the blows of Alvarado that caught the eye, especially his uppercuts as Konish came in with his head down.
Konishi's best moments came in the middle rounds, as he landed most of his best work, stopped Alvarado from creating the space here needed to get full extension on his shots. By smothering Alvarado's power shots and pushing him backwards Konishi had real success, and left the Nicaraguan looking a little bit like a bully. It did however come at a cost, and the energy that Konishi had to use, and the shots he took in return for his success, were apparent in the later rounds.
The final third of the bout was Alvarado's best. Konishi had slowed, his work rate had dropped, and his ability to cut the distance effectively was waning. This allowed Alvarado the space he needed to land his thunderous power shots, and in rounds 10 and 11 he hurt Konishi, who was left wobbling and looking ready to go. Unfortunately for the Nicaraguan the bell came to give Konishi both times, but it was clear that Konishi was relying on his toughness by then, and his chance to turn things round had all but gone.
The brave and determined challenger managed to put up a really spirited effort in round 12, despite losing the round. It was clear he knew he'd lost but he'd put up a great effort against one of the hardest hitting champions in the sport.
After 12 rounds the judges had the bout a clear win for the Nicaraguan, with scores of 117-111, 118-110 and 116-112.
In a sign of real class Alvarado stayed with fans on his way backstage, bumping fists with the locals, taking pictures with kids and really spending a lot of time with those who had been cheering on Konishi. The fans however had clearly been won over by the champion, and it was great to see from both sides.
Sadly for Konishi this is the second time he has lost in a world title bout, and it might just be that whilst he is very good, and very strong, he isn't quite good enough to win a world title.
Fighters will, one day, learn not to disrespect Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16) [井上 尚弥]. He hands out beatings when disrespect, as Jamie McDonnell found out last year, and as Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12) found out just moments ago.
The two men, meeting in the WBSS semi final, had entered as unbeaten champions, with Inoue as the WBA "regular" champion and Rodriguez as the IBF champion. It was supposed to be Inoue's biggest test, his toughest fight and a real chance for him to answer questions, questions that fans who hadn't followed him from the start of career still had. It was however another procession from the Monster, just like his previous two bouts at Bantamweight, against Jamie McDonnell and Juan Carlos Payano. An execution that was likely as quick as it was due to the over-confidence of Rodriguez and his team, who had pushed Inoue's trainer and father Shingo at the media work out in the week.
The first round started well for Rodriguez who landed a good right hand in the opening seconds, before Inoue settled behind his jab, and managed to take the round thanks to a steady stream of jabs left hooks. Inoue landed a couple of right hands during the round but didn't seem to budge Rodriguez who applied pressure, and had one or two moments of his own, but was out landed over all.
Having got a read on his man early in round 2 Inoue began to turn up the hear and let his shots go with the free flowing aggression we've seen of him since early in early in his career. A big body shot hurt Rodriguez who was then given a huge head shot, then a left hook moments later dropped Rodriguez. To his credit Rodriguez got up, but was down again from a sickening body shot. That could have ended the fight but he returned to his feet, narrowly beating the count, before being dropped again. That was it. After just 79 seconds of round 2 Rodriguez, supposedly Inoue's stiffest test to date, was dispatched.
This was the 6th time in a row that Inoue had stopped someone who had never been stopped, including not only McDonnell and Payano but also the teak tough Kohei Kono, a former 2-time world champion. It was also his third second round stoppage following wins against Omar Andres Narvaez and Warlito Parrenas.
More notable for Japanese boxing it is the first time, in history, a Japanese fighter has won a world title fight in Europe, ending a 51 year, 20 fight losing run in the continent.
As for the future this win books Inoue a showdown later in the year with Filipino legend Nonito Donaire, in the WBSS final. That should be a huge fight for Asia, and arguably the most notable opponent that Inoue will have faced so far, certainly the most dangerous. Donaire might be on the slide but he is certainly a lot more proven that Rodriguez and Payano.
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.