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Naoya Inoue: The Little Angel that Became “The Monster”

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On April 10th of 1993, the wife of Shingo Inoue conceived their firstborn child in the city of Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture. Little did the parents know that their child, who they considered to be such a little angel, would one day become one of the fiercest competitors in boxing.

But as the saying goes “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Both of Shingo’s sons were inspired by their father’s amateur career, and decided to train under his watchful eye. The youngest son, Takuma, also tried his hand at the sweet science, but ultimately fell short in comparison to his older brother.

As time went on, Naoya adopted his now signature alias “The Monster“, which accurately represents the brutal power within his fists.

The 25-year-old Naoya isn’t just a brute force brawler, he’s a complete fighter, with his technical elegance inside the ring rivaling the force of his punches. His deceivingly slim figure may give the impression that he lacks power but don’t be fooled, there’s dynamite inside those hands.

After winning world titles in three different weight classes (Bantamweight, Light Flyweight, Super Flyweight), Noaya is determined to win the World Boxing Super Series at 118 lbs and obtain the Muhammed Ali trophy. The other 7 competitors in the Bantamweight division are: Ryan Burnett (North Ireland), Nonito Donaire (Philippines), Zolani Tete (South Africa), Mijail Aloyan (Russia), Emmanuel Rodríguez (Puerto Rico), Jason Moloney (Australia) and Juan Carlos Payano (Dominican Republic).

Payano was Noaya’s first victim. This past October 7th, “The Monster” knocked out the Dominican @1:10 of the very first round, in the Yokohama Arena. This was Noaya’s first time defending the WBA Bantamweight title.

Just moments after the first bell, without any hesitation, Naoya unleashed a devastating one-two combination sending Payano crashing down to the canvas. Referee Pinit Prayadsab was forced to step in and stop the fight. At the end of the bout, Payano stated that his opponent’s hand speed was just too quick and he couldn’t react in time to defend himself.

Five months before, Inoue defeated Jamie McDonnell for the WBA Bantamweight title, at Ota-City General Gymnasium, in Japan. McDonnell was also incapable of withstanding Inoue’s power, getting knocked down in the first round and consequently having the fight stopped by referee Luis Pavón in under two minutes.  Inoue, inferior in both height and reach, landed a left hook that stunned his opponent, and then quickly followed up with a three-punch combination that ended the fight. This was McDonnell’s 7th title defense, a title he earned back in 2014.

inoue

Face off: Inoue and Rodríguez

Next fight in the WBSS:

After his outstanding victory in the quarter finals of the World Super Series, Inoue will face the Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodríguez (19-0-0, 12 KOs) in the next round.  Rodríguez defeated the Australian Jason Moloney on October 20th, at the CFE Arena in Orlando, Florida.

Regardless of the fact that both the time and place remain unknown, the odds are already heavily leaning towards Inoue due to his impressive victories and elite pound for pound skill. It will be a true challenge for the Puerto Rican Rodríguez to withstand the punching power of Inoue. Naoya is vigorously chasing the trophy and the one-million-dollar prize that comes with winning the World Super Series. As further testament of the challenge that Rodríguez stands to face, Naoya has only fought fourteen rounds in his last five fights.

The other Fighters competing in the semi-final are the South African Zolani “The Last Born” Tete (28-3-0, 21 KOs) and the winner of Ryan Burnett vs Nonito “The Flash” Donaire, which will take place the 3rd of November at The SSE Hydro, in Glasgow, Scotland. Southpaws Zolani Tete and Mijail Aloyan faced each other on the 3rd of October in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Tete defeated Aloyan for the WBO Bantamweight title, securing his position in the semi-finals.

Kalle Sauerland

Kalle Sauerland Impressed by Inoue:

The German promoter Kalle Sauerland, creator of last year’s World Super Series, stated that the punching power of Inoue, exceeds the likes of Heavyweight Anthony Joshua and Middleweights Gennady Golovkin and Saúl “El Canelo” Alvarez.  “These other fighters have respectable power, but Inoue is the best of all”, said Sauerland to British media after Inoue defeated Payano. “I’m convinced he’s not only the number one power puncher in Japan, Asia or America. He’s the best on the planet”.

Translated by E.G. for J.J. Alvarez of Boxeo.tv

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Alexis Rocha KOs Brave but Overmatched George Ashie on DAZN.

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Golden Boy Promotions’ potted their first offering of 2023 at the recently opened YouTube Theater, a 6,000-seat venue situated inside the stadium built to house LA’s two NFL franchises. The main event was a scheduled 12-round welterweight match between Alexis Rocha, a southpaw from nearby Santa Ana and George Ashie, a 38-year-old Ghanaian making his U.S. debut. Ashie was a late substitute for Anthony Young who reportedly suffered a nose injury in training. The match and supporting bouts were live-streamed on DAZN.

Ashie, who was fighting above his normal weight class and carried a career-high 146 pounds, was brave but out-gunned. Rocha knocked him down in the third frame with a right hook and hurt him several more times as the fight progressed although Ashie never stopped trying. In round six, an accidental clash of heads left Rocha with a nasty cut on his left eyebrow. He fought with more urgency after this incident and knocked Ashie out cold in the next round. The official time was 2:08 of round seven.

It was the fifth straight win for Rocha who improved his ledger to 22-1 (14 KOs). After the bout, he expressed an interest in fighting Terence Crawford. Ashie fell to 33-6-1 (25).

Other Bouts of Note

Floyd “Austin Kid” Schofield, a precocious 20-year-old lightweight, had Albert Mercado on the canvas in the second round but was unable to put him away despite hurting him multiple times and went 10 rounds for the first time in his young career.

Schofield, the 2022 TSS Prospect of the Year, improved to 13-0 (11), winning 100-89 on all three cards. Mercado, a 35-year-old Connecticut-born Puerto Rican, declined to 17-5-1 but retained his distinction of having never stopped.

Super middleweight Bektemir Melikuziev, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist for Uzbekistan who lives and trains in Indio, California, overpowered San Diego’s Ulises Sierra who was on the deck twice from body punches before the fight was waived off at the 2:59 mark of round three. It was the fourth straight victory for Melikuziev (11-1, 9 KOs) after suffering a stunning one-punch knockout at the hands of seemingly shopworn Gabriel Rosado with whom he is pursuing a rematch. Sierra was 17-2-2 heading in with eight of his wins coming in Mexico.

In a match framed as a WBO minimumweight title eliminator, Oscar Collazo (6-0, 4 KOs) scored an impressive fifth-round stoppage of Yudel Reyes. Collazo knocked Reyes down twice in the fifth round, the second with a vicious right hand that put Reyes down so hard that the referee didn’t bother to count. The official time was 2:59 of round five.

In theory, Collazo’s next fight will come against the Filipino Melvin Jerusalem who won the title earlier this month with a second-round stoppage of Masataka Taniguchi in Osaka. Reyes, a 26-year-old Mexican making his U.S. debut, declined to 15-2.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Artur Beterbiev TKOs Anthony Yarde in a London Firefight

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The presumption, echoed by ESPN boxing commentator Bernardo Osuna, was that tonight’s bout at Wembley Arena in London between Artur Beterbiev and Anthony Yarde would be explosive and entertaining for as long as it lasted. That proved to be true and when the smoke cleared, Beterbiev, the rugged Montreal-based Russian had retained his three light heavyweight title belts and had added another knockout to his ledger, his nineteenth as a pro in as many opportunities.

Both men landed hard shots during the fight and both were marked up at the finish. Yarde had a cut under his right eye and Beterbiev had a cut on his left eyelid.

A chopping right hand from Beterbiev late in the first minute of the eighth round marked the beginning of the end for Yarde, the muscular 31-year-old Londoner who entered the contest sporting a record of 23-2 with 22 knockouts. The punch sent him reeling backward toward his corner where he landed on his knees. He beat the count, but turned toward his corner rather than referee Steve Gray.

Gray let the bout continue, but Beterbiev pressed his advantage and after a few more unanswered punches Yarde’s trainer Tunde Ajayi stepped up on the ring apron and summoned Gray to stop it. The official time was 2:01 of round eight.

Beterbiev hasn’t lost since losing a decision to amateur nemesis Oleksandr Usyk in the quarter finals of the 2012 London Olympics. At age 38, he shows no signs of slowing down.

In his post-fight interview, the self-effacing Russian said, “I hope some day I will be a good boxer,” and acknowledged that he would welcome a unification fight with fellow Russian Dmitry Bivol, the WBA title-holder.

WBA Title Fight

In a bout that was in theory the co-feature but went off during the earlier portion of the ESPN+ livestream, Artem Dalakian (21-0, 15 KOs) retained his WBA world flyweight title with a unanimous and somewhat controversial 12-round unanimous decision over Costa Rica’s David Jimenez (12-1). The judges had it 116-112 and 115-113 twice.

An Azerbaijan-born Ukrainian, Dalakian was making the sixth defense of the title he won in 2018 with a 12-round decision over Brian Viloria in Los Angeles in his lone previous appearance at a venue in the English-speaking world. His five title defenses were in Kiev. Jimenez was coming off a 12-round majority decision over Ricardo Sandoval in what ranked as one of the bigger upsets of 2021.

A Split for the Itauma Brothers

Promoter Frank Warren’s newest signee, 18-year-old heavyweight Moses Itauma, made a big splash in his pro debut, blasting out Czechoslovakia’s Marcel Bode (2-2) in 23 seconds. Moses and his older brother Karol Itauma are sons of a British citizen of Nigerian ancestry and a Slovakian mother.

In a shocking upset, Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna, a 36-year-old Argentine who had lost six of his previous eight fights, forged a fifth-round stoppage of well-touted Karol Itauma who was 9-0 (7 KOs) as a pro coming in. Itauma ate numerous straight right hands before a straight right hand knocked him down for the count. The official time was 1:04 of round five. Maderna improved to 29-10 (11).

Also

The Frankham cousins, super welterweight Joshua and super featherweight Charles, improved their ledgers to 7-0 with 6-round shutouts over their respective opponents. The cousins are grandsons of John “Gypsy Johnny” Frankham, a former British light heavyweight champion.

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Jake Paul vs Tommy Fury on Feb. 26 in a Potential Pay-Per-View Blockbuster

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It’s now official. The twice-postponed “grudge match” between Jake Paul and Tommy Fury will come to fruition on Sunday, Feb. 26, at Riyadh in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. An 8-rounder contested at a catch-weight of 185 pounds, the match and several supporting bouts will air in the U.S. on ESPN+ PPV at a cost of $49.99.

The hook for this promotion – a come-hither that will be hammered home incessantly in the coming weeks – is that Jake Paul will finally touch gloves with a legitimate professional boxer. Paul’s previous opponents were a fellow YouTube influencer (AnEsonGib), a retired NBA player (Nate Robinson), and three former MMA champions: Ben Askren, Tyron Woodley, and Anderson Silva. He fought Woodley twice.

Tommy Fury, the half-brother of reigning WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, made his pro debut in December of 2018 in a four-round bout in his hometown of Manchester. He was two fights into his pro career when he became a contestant on the TV reality show “Love Island.” An enormously popular show in Great Britain, especially among the coveted 18-34 demographic, “Love Island” was in its fifth season.

Fury was paired with supermodel Molly-Mae Hague with whom he finished second. They developed a great chemistry, on and off the set, became engaged, and purportedly welcomed a baby girl this week.

What about Tommy Fury the boxer? How legitimate is he?

Fury’s record currently stands at 8-0 (4 KOs). His first opponent was a professional loser from Latvia whose current ledger reads 10-113-3. His next six opponents were a combined 4-73-2. Finally, in his last fight, which occurred in April of last year, he met an opponent with a good record, Poland’s Daniel Bocianski, who was 10-1. But look closer and one discovers that all but one of Bocianski’s 10 triumphs came against opponents with losing records. The exception was a 6-round decision over a fellow Pole whose record currently stands at 18-16-1 and who has been stopped 13 times.

Fury bloodied Bocianski and won a wide 6-round decision, but his performance was underwhelming. “Fury had the Hollywood teeth, tan, and diamante-colored shorts,” wrote Chasinga Malata of the London Sun, “leaving only his performance without sheen and sparkle.”

There is nothing in Tommy Fury’s background, aside from his biological pedigree, to suggest that he has the tools to become a world-class boxer. If he were a member of the Three Stooges, he would be Shemp.

Jake Paul, by contrast, may actually be legit. Those in the know that have watched him train have come away impressed. It says here that Paul isn’t moving up in class on Feb. 26; it’s the other way around.

In the co-feature, Ilunga Makabu (29-2, 25 KOs) will make the third defense of his WBC world cruiserweight title against Badou Jack (27-3-3, 16 KOs). A Congolese-South African, Makabu is the older brother of heavyweight contender Martin Bakole. Jack, four years older than Makabu at age 39, formerly held world titles at 168 and 175 pounds.

Although Badou Jack was born in Sweden and keeps a home in Las Vegas where he has long been affiliated with the Mayweather Boxing Club, he will have the home field advantage in Saudi Arabia where he has cultivated a loyal following. A devout Muslim, Jack will be making his fourth straight start in the Persian Gulf Region. In his last outing, he outpointed Richard “Popeye” Rivera at Jeddah, winning a 10-round split decision.

Badou Jack

Badou Jack

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