Just moments ago in the Humo Arena in Tashkent we saw unified Super Bantamweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev (9-0, 7) [Муроджон Ахмадалиев] retain his IBF and WBA "Super" Super Bantamweight titles as he stopped former IBF champion Ryosuke Iwasa (27-4, 17) [岩佐 亮佑].
The defending champion started really well and was coming forward almost from the off. He looked sharp and crisp whilst coming forward, whilst Iwasa looked relaxed, and like a man who was looking to see what the champion had to offer. Through out the round the speed and dynamic offense of Akhmadaliev shone, and he took very little in return, with Iwasa having limited success with his jab and a single good body shot.
Round 2 was another good one from Akhmadaliev, who began to really control the bout with his sharp, accurate and spiteful jab. A jab that really was a massive difference maker. Iwasa again had moments, but they were few and far between with Akhmadaliev really controlling the action overall.
The success from Akhmadaliev was building round by round, and even when Iwasa tried to turn it around, he was having very limited success, with only flashes of action going his way. A rare body shot here, a clean jab there, a good flurry in response to a strong Akhmadaliev combination. But nothing sustained.
In round 5 Akhmadaliev seemed to come out with a point to prove, starting fast and wobbling Iwasa, who seemed off balance more than hurt. Iwasa seemed to regroup and Akhmadaliev backed off, at least for a few moments, before another flurry from Akhmadaliev, this time the referee jumped in.
If we're being honest the stoppage seemed early. Iwasa wasn't looking particularly hurt, despite being under pressure, and given the high profile of the bout it seemed like the referee jumped in far too soon for out liking. Especially for a world title bout. He robbed Iwasa of a chance to come back, and also robbed Akhmadaliev of a chance to score a really big KO, something that seemed very possible given the ease with which he was landing.
It's true we prefer stoppages to come too soon, rather than too late, but sadly it feels like the referee did this one far, far too soon. Regardless, it's a fantastic first defense for Akhmadaliev who has made it clear he wants to continue collecting titles. In a division as stacked and talent heavy as the Super Bantamweight division there are som amazing match ups that he could be involved in.
As for Iwasa this is probably the end of his dreams at world level. Though a return to the Oriental scene would certainly be an interesting one, with fights against the likes of Jhunriel Ramonal, Shingo Wake and Hiroaki Teshigawara all being very interesting match ups that could be made later in the year.
Just moments ago we saw WBA "super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (15-0, 10) [京口 紘人] make his US debut in a spectacular bout against diminutive Mexican challenger Axel Aragon Vega (14-4-1, 8). It was a fight that was thrilling, exciting, and yet sadly anti-climactic.
From the opening minute this was a great fight with the two men willingly engaging in close quarter combat. There was no real feeling out process here as they quickly got to work on the inside and let shots go with their heads against each other. The first round was great with both men having success up close. It seemed both men were happy to fight toe to toe and both tried to instill their will.
In round 2 they continued to fight in the trenches and it seemed like diminutive Vega got the better of things, though it was a hotly contested round with both landing uppercuts and hooks through out the round. The action and intensity that both fought at gave us one of the best rounds of 2021 so far and it seemed to set the stage for something special.
The pace started to slow down in round 3 though, as Kyoguchi began to use his jab more and create more space. It was still a very good round for Vega, but a round that seemed to show there was more to Kyoguchi's arsenal than just the inside fighting, which seemed to be Vega's only option. Sadly by this point the awful DAZN commentary had picked it's side and essentially ignored anything Kyoguchi did, though that was no surprise from a commentary team that have consistently been dire.
In round 4 the jab of Kyoguchi, which had been coming into effect in round 3, became a bigger weapon for him. Vega was still aggressive, but was being kept at range more often, and when he did get inside Kyoguchi was holding his own, landing some lovely clean uppercuts. Vega was very lively through the round, but seemed to be getting figured out, and slowing, and his face was also reddening from the headshots he was taking.
Through 4 rounds it was close. A score of 3-1 either way, or 2-2 was very reasonable, and it felt like they could end up trading blows on the inside at any moment. It seemed like one of those fights where both men were well matched, and where action could pick up at a moments notice. Sadly however in round 5 Vega ended up suffering a nasty injury when he tagged Kyoguchi. The injury instantly left him in pain and whilst he backed off in agony Kyoguchi rushed in looking to close the show, soon afterwards the referee jumped in, waving off the bout and stopping Vega.
It was horrible way for the bout to end, a truly anti-climactic ending to the bout, which had been thrilling. It wasn't the ending either man wanted. But it was a TKO win for Kyoguchi, who becomes one of the very, very few Japanese fighters to retain a world title on US soil.
It's expected that Kyoguchi's next defense will be about against unbeaten Thai puncher Thanongsak Simsri, who he was supposed to fight late last year before needing to cancel the bout due to testing positive for Covid19, before a potential return Stateside later in the year.
A win here was important for Kyoguchi, and the performance will have left fans wanting more from him, though the way he got the win was certainly not the most compelling. Fingers crossed his next bout shown in the West will let fans really see what he's got in the locker.
Earlier today we got the latest "All-Filipino world title" fight as former WBO champion Vic Saludar (21-4, 11) clashed with the countryman Robert Paradero (18-1, 12) in a bout for the WBA "regular" Minimumweight title.
Although the bout was for a "secondary" title, and not for the main WBA belt, it was still a highly anticipated one with the contest being a chance to see what Saludar had left following a couple of disappointing recent performances and seeing what the completely untested Paradero had to offer the sport.
The early going saw an energetic but wild Paradero fighting aggressively but leaving himself open. He showed no fear of his more well established opponent, but also looked a bit like a man who had a lot of nervous energy to burn, and was firing off some very wild and crude shots. He was struggling to land clean, though at times Saludar failing to really punish him. The veteran managed to land some counters, but seemed to leave a lot of opportunities on the table in what was a conservative performance early on.
The main drama in the early rounds wasn't a shot from either man, but a headclash in round 2. It was, however, a minor drama with Paradero suffering a very small cut outside of his right eye. A cut that played absolutely no factor in the rest of the fight.
The conservative but smart approach from Saludar saw him having solid success in round 4 before hurting Paradero in round 5. To his credit Paradero got on his toes and saw out the round, despite being hurt. He then seemed to settle down well and through many of the middle rounds Paradero's crude, wild approach was tempered significantly, though this allowed the more slow, cerebral counter punching of Saludar to catch the eye more often. It was a stark change in tempo through the back end of the fight from Paradero who struggled to really show the same hunger.
Despite slowing down Paradero managed to have some really nice moments, particularly in the second half of round 9 where he boxed smartly, used his feet, and prevented Saludar from countering too much. Whilst he was having success we dare say that the change from Paradero told the judges that he was the one struggling, and needing to adapt, rather than making changes to suit himself. Potentially giving the impression that Saludar was having more success than he really was. It also allowed Saludar to come forward a lot, even if he wasn't really letting his hands go, again making it look like he was the one bossing the fight, even when he seemed to be following Paradero around the ring at times.
Going in to the final round it felt close, ad the commentary were suggesting that it was all to play for in round 12. Paradero started the round as if he knew it was close, landing a huge right hand, but then seemed to let things off the boil, show boating, looking over-confident, and really not doing a lot. He was caught in the round by a counter, that may well have stolen the round for Saludar.
After 12 rounds we went to the score cards and they were read out. 115-113, Saludar, 118-110, Paradero and then 116-112. The pause waiting for the winner saw Paradero yell in celebration, before the "Saludar" was read out, giving the veteran the split decision win.
The commentary had the bout even at 114-114.
If we're being honest we had this narrowly for Paradero. We preferred his energy and speed, though he was caught by a number of solid counter shots from Saludar and the difference in experience showed, a lot. He lacked a jab at times and his straight right hand wasn't accurate enough to get to the veteran.
For us Saludar simply didn't work enough at times, he was too conservative at times and as we said, he followed Paradero too much. In all honesty he looked old at times, and has certainly seen better days. He did however land the better single shots, his counters were good and he often sold the impression that he was the boss by pressing forward.
As for Paradero, there's a good fighter there, but someone who is clearly a work in progress and needs a lot of work if he's going to be a top, top divisional fighter.
For Saludar we suspect the plan is to move towards a bout with WBA "super" champion Knockout CP Freshmart. On this performance he wouldn't beat the undefeated Thai. As for Paradero the OPBF title or the WBO Asia Pacific title should be the focus for him over the next year or two as he looks to build on his experience. His inexperience was an issue and something that can be worked on over the coming years before he gets another bout at this level.
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 ago Thai fighter Downua Ruawaiking (16-1, 13) [ดาวเหนือ เรือไวกิ้ง], aka Apinun Khongsong, suffered his first loss as he was stopped in the first round by unified IBF and WBA Light Welterweight champion Josh Taylor (17-0, 13).
The Thai came out confidently and looked to land a big right hand from the opening seconds. He looked calm and like he was there to make a statement.
Sadly though as the round was coming to an end a body shot from Taylor landed right on the liver and dropped the Thai in agony.
On first view it looked like there was a headclash, but on replay it was a clean, and nasty body with a left hand that would have put anyone down.
Downua was in pure agony afterwards and it seems likely he suffered a broken rib, given the pain he was in.
Sadly, given the short nature of the fight, which ended after 2:41 of the opening round, there was little to really learn from either man. It was such a sudden ending that it really didn't let us see much of how Josh Taylor looked under the guidance of Ben Davison.
The plan now for Taylor will be took seek a 4 title unification bout with Jose Carlos Ramirez. As for Downua, we expect to see him back in Thailand, picking up wins for a regional title an begin the climb back to a world title fight. Sadly today's experience, whilst painful, would have done little to help Downua's progress going forward, though it may have taught him just how painful body shots can be.
Earlier today in Thailand fans saw WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (21-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] record his 9th defense, as he over-came Japanese veteran Norihito Tanaka (19-8, 10) [田中教仁], with a clear decision.
Early on Tanaka employed a smart gameplan, making Knockout chase him and miss, lining up some solid looking counter right hands, some effective jabs and one or two very good looking uppercuts. Despite the success of the challenger he never made anything clear, and always seemed to be doing more to frustrate, rather than putting his foot down in any way.
Sadly for Tanaka the champion wasn't in the mood to play about, and went after him with more intensity in rounds 3, dropping the challenger at the end of the round. Tanaka wasn't hurt, but from then on it always seemed like Knockout not only had the answers for the challenger, but had too much of everything for him.
Rounds 4 and 5 were torrid affairs for Tanaka, who had to show his toughness to see out some rocky spells, before the bout started to peter out a bit, with Tanaka becoming more and more negative. Late in round 7 we saw a lot of negative movement from Tanaka who seemed to be looking to stay safe, rather than take risks.
The tactics of Knockout saw him pressing forward through out the bout, and in the middle rounds his body work really had taken much of the fight out of the challenger. Sadly though Knockout never found that extra gear to really go for the finish, something that has been missing from his game for quite a while. He was dominant through out, but never looked like a man who should carry the "Knockout" moniker.
After 12 rounds the scorecards weren't an issue, with the judges scoring the bout 120-107, twice, and 119-108.
For Tanaka this is likely to be his only world title bout, and his loss sees Japanese fighters falling to 0-25-1 in world title bouts in Thailand. As for Knockout it potentially moves him towards a big fight, but it's hard to imagine top names travelling to face him in the outdoor conditions of Thailand any time soon.
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.
With Christmas just a few short days away WBA Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太] gave Japanese fans something to celebrate as he successfully defended his title against Canadian challenger Steven Butler (28-2-1, 24), in what was an entertaining fight between two men who believed their power would be the difference.
From the opening round we saw the style of the bout being set. Murata was applying pressure, and Butler boxing and moving. It was what both men had done in their previous bouts and no real surprise we saw it here. In the opening could of rounds Butler had some real success with combination, being thrown and getting in an out, and he landed a huge right hand in the opening round that really caught the eye. The problem for Butler however was that he could never get Murata's respect. The Japanese fighter just continued walking forward, and landed more than enough of his own heavy shots to take the first two rounds.
By round 3 it was starting to look inevitable that Murata was going to stop Butler. The pressure wasn't really changing, but Butler was starting to respond when Murata tagged him, he was showing he was hurt and holding late in the round. Mentally it must have been horrific for Butler to land his best shots and see Murata simply reset and march forward, and then be shaken when Murata landed his own shots.
Murata's success grew in round 4, and he finishes with a huge flurry after really ripping in some sick body shots on to Butler. Butler had taken them well, but they had begin to take away his legs a bit, and Butler's own body shots always looked rather like slaps rather than crisp and clean punches that Murata was throwing. Butler was still giving a good go of everything, but was being broken down, bit by bit.
To his credit the challenger came out fast in round 5. He was trying to turn the tables and stem the flow of the bout. It didn't work. At all. Instead Murata was cutting the ring off with ease, getting Butler where he wanted and landing a growing number of clean shots, to head and body. The cracks in Butler's defense were becoming bigger, and Murata was ramming shots through them. Late in the round a he wobbled Butler, and a follow up dropped him hard with just a few seconds of the round left. The referee wisely called it off.
Ideally ext for Murata will a big name, Gennady Golovkin would be ideal, if not he needs a fighter who will make him look sensational. If Golovkin isn't next a bout with Liam Williams would be a fine filler for a defense, as they styles should make for a great fight. Even if Murata would be massively favoured.
As for Butler, he showed heart and skills, but seemed to realise that his power isn't world class at Middleweight. He has to change his style, boxing more and punching less, if he's to make it to the top. Despite the loss, he could, with maturity and development, become a genuine player in the division. Today however he looked like he was second best through out.
Earlier this year Chinese fighter Can Xu (18-2, 3) [徐灿] put himself on the map as he won the WBA "regular" Featherweight title in a sensational performance against Jesus M Rojas on US soil. Today he returned to the US to make his second defense, and again put on a sensational performance with an incredibly high work rate and very smart inside fighting.
The talented champion was defending his title for the second time, as he faced off with the previously unbeaten Manny Robles III (18-1, 8), and just swamped Robles with a tempo that that Robles had no answer for.
It only took seconds for Xu to begin letting his hands go, and he never slowed down. Robles tried to box between Xu's flurries in the first few rounds, but he never did enough to be competitive with Xu who was always landing first, landing last and landing more.
Sadly for Robles the tempo was too high for him, and body shots in round 6 began to hurt him, taking away from his work rate even further. What little success Robles had mustered in the first half were completely non existent in the second half, with Robles taking a beating in rounds 7 and 8, as he slowly had the fight beaten out of him. The only things that let the bout continue were Robles' toughness and Xu's lack of power.
Robles tried to push forward late on but all he did was walk into uppercuts and hooks as Xu continued to beat him up through the championship rounds, putting any possible doubt to bed.
After 12 rounds the scores were tallied quickly, and were easy to tally. 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110 all to Xu.
Following the bout DAZN show punch numbers suggesting there was over 2000 punches thrown, with Xu throwing over 1500! An incredibly amount, in what was a truly fan friendly and entertaining, yet 1-sided, battle.
After the bout Xu called out IBF champion Josh Warrington in what would make for a chaotic and fan friendly bout with a lot of leather being thrown, but one we don't imagine Warrington and his promoter, Frank Warren, will be in a rush to make. Instead we assume that Xu will likely make a mandatory against Hiroshige Osawa sooner, rather than later, in what could well be a bout back in China, before another big bout Stateside.
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.
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.