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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
It's not often that Japanese fighters, fighting in Japan, get a chance to show case themselves. Today however we saw the WBSS turn their focus to Yokohama and the world got a chance to see WBA "regular" Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥] show how devastating he is. The Japanese sensation was taking on former "Super" champion Juan Carlos Payano (20-2, 9) in what was a WBSS quarter final bout and Inoue's first defense of the WBA title.
Sadly for fans expecting a real show case of Inoue's skills, speed, and movement this wasn't the bout to show them off. Instead this was a 70 second blow out that saw Inoue really only land 2 punches, a brutal 1-2 that dropped Payano for the count.
The bout started with both men jostling for position. Inoue applied some pressure with his footwork from the off. Payano rushed in as he tried an attack but failed to land anything. A few seconds later Inoue threw a hard jab and followed it with a right hand, that dropped Payano hard. The Dominican wouldn't beat the count, and never looked like he was close to it.
With the win Inoue pogresses to the semi-final of the WBSS and shows that he really is the “Monster” with back-to-back opening round wins at Bantamweight.
Whilst Payano had never been stopped before there is an argument that he wasn't really a great opponent. He was 34 years old, had fought just once in the last year, had been dropped twice, and had never faced a world class puncher like Inoue. That however shouldn't take away from how impressive Inoue was, how destructive he looked and how he set two new Japanese records, extending his current stoppage run to 7 fights at world level and scoring his 11th stoppage win at world level, breaking records that he had previously tied with Yoko Gushiken and Takashi Uchiyama, respectively.
When Naoya Inoue (16-0, 14) [井上 尚弥] turned professional his team spoke as if he was a special talent. Soon after his debut he proved it, beating the talented Yuki Sano essentially one handed in just his third bout. He then claimed the Japanese Light Flyweight title in his 4th bout by defeating Ryoichi Taguchi. In just his 6th professional bout he claimed his first world title, stopping Adrian Hernandez for the WBC Light Flyweight title. Less than 9 months later he moved up 2 divisions and destroyed Omar Narvaez for the WBO Super Flyweight title.
Today he impressed again as he ripped the WBA "regular" Bantamweight title from Englishman Jamie McDonnell (29-3-1-1, 13) in less than 2 minutes.
Inoue had stated he was looking to stop McDonnell before the fight, with the Englishman having never previous been stopped. It seemed a brash comment, but given how Inoue, dubbed the "Monster" has fought his career so far it was one few were doubting.
What no one, and we doubt even Inoue was expecting, was the performance he had. He was dwarfed when the fighters met in center ring for the final instructions from the referee but that seemed to be the only thing going against him. Within seconds he had McDonnell, the bigger fighter, circling the ring, and firing off a few jabs. Inoue just walked his man down and landed a huge shot up top that seemed to hurt the Englishman. Inoue smell blood and went for the kill and dropped McDonnell with a body shot.
To his credit McDonnell got back to his feet, but Inoue could see his wounded prey and went back on the offensive, unloading bombs on McDonnell who went down for the second time. The referee had seen enough and instantly waved the fight off.
Although the WBA “regular” title may not be highly regarded a win like this really launches Inoue into the stratosphere at 118lbs, and should secure him a place in the World Boxing Super Series, as well as a place on every fight fans Pound-for-Pound list, not just that of the real hardcore fans.
For McDonnell the future is certainly going to see him moving up in weight, but to have been blitzed in this manner may well end his career. He was beaten up, not just beaten, in 112 seconds by a man he out weighed by 13lbs on the day of the fight and boasted significant size advantages over. When he moves up those size advantages aren't going to be there, and this loss will be in the memory of every future opponent he faces.
Just moments ago we saw the final bout at Super Flyweight for Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (15-0, 13) [井上 尚弥], who recorded his 7th defence of the WBO Super Flyweight title and over-came the naturally bigger French challenger Yoan Boyeaux (41-5, 26) in what was really little more than a show case performance.
The opening round saw Boyeaux, a usually aggressive fighter, take to the outside of the ring whilst Inoue brought the pressure and tried to sneak inside on the taller, longer fighter. It was a mostly quiet round, with only one or two real combinations from Inoue, but what he landed he made count, rocking Boyeaux with a right hand before dropping him with a sweet left hand late in the ring. Had the round gone on much longer that could have been the start of the end but the bell realld saved the challenger.
The second round saw a very cautious Boyeaux fighting on the retreat. Inoue pressed the fight, and landed several solid shots, but Boyeaux was moving too much for the shots to have a lot of effect and by the end of the round it seemed like Inoue was toying with him, looking for a home run shot. What was even worse for Boyeaux is after he landed a huge right hand Inoue didn't even blink, as if telling the challenger that he was happy to take one if he had to.
To begin round 3 Inoue went on the offensive, landing several short right hands before a brutal body shot forced Boyeaux to take a knee. The Frenchman was up almost instantly but gave away just how much pain the shot had caused him. A follow from Inoue saw him attack the compromised torso of the challenger who was down again following 3 solid shots to the mid-section. To his credit Boyeaux got up again, looked ready to fight and the crowd showed their appreciation and respect by applauding Boyeaux's guts but by then the fight was all but over. Inoue continued to hunt his pray, landed one top before going to the body again, sending Boyeaux down and forcing the referee to stop the bout, rather than allow the challenger to take any more punishment.
With the win under his belt the intention from Inoue now is to make a move up to the Bantamweight division and chase a third world title, following issues securing a notable opponent at Super Flyweight. The challenges he faces moving up a division should make for more competitive assignments than this one, with bouts against Zolani Tete, Luis Nery and Ryan Burnett all being mooted for the "Monster".
Earlier this evening fight fans around the globe tuned in for the highly anticipated “Superfly” card, featuring two world title fights. The first of those was a WBO title fight which saw saw Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (14-0, 12) [井上 尚弥] make his US debut, and shine as he dominated American challenger Antonio Nieves (17-2-2, 9).
The opening round could have been a nervy one from Inoue, given it was his first professional bout outside of Japan. Instead however he looked totally relaxed, and not like a man fighting on a major international stage for the first time. He looked controlled with his jab, imposing with his footwork and pressure and in total control. That control took a step up in round two as Inoue stepped up the pace and hurt Nieves with body shots late in the round.
Although Nieves saw out the second round it looked like it was only going to be a case of “how long?” Inoue upped the ante again in round 3 as he began to really hunt the stoppage and was pressing Nieves back at will. With the challenger looking like he simply couldn't handle the power. Nieves had moments, but they were minor moral victories before he was forced to eat something much more significant.
Nieves heart shone and in round 4 he tried to back up Inoue, who obliged and fought a portion of the round on the back foot before coming forward and pumping his let jab into the face of the American who had clearly ran out of ideas. Sadly for Nieves he may have ran out of ideas but Inoue still had plenty, including the idea that he wanted a stoppage. He went about that with a new found intensity in round 5 and hammered the challenger with body shots until he went down. From then on Nieves was in full blown survival mode and a protective corner would have pulled him out after the round had finished. Instead he was sent out for another round, and it became embarrassing for the challenger. Instead of fighting he ran, literally running away from Inoue, who waved him in, raised his hands, taunted and dropped his hands completely. The result of Inoue's taunted seemed to suggest that Nieves didn't want to be there and mercifully his corner saved him at the end of the round.
With his US debut out of the way, and impressively at that, and another defense under his belt the future looks likely to see Inoue in super fights. He's had a US showcase, next has to be big bouts against big names to continue to build his incredible reputation. For Nieves it's likely he'll be back to domestic or continental level, but he'll never want to step in the ring with Inoue again after this one.
For US fans who may not have seen Inoue before, we suspect many will be looking to see him in the future, and at the end of the day, that was the aim of this bout. It was to get fans world wide interested in him, and potential show downs with the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Kal Yafai, Juan Francisco Estrada and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
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.