Punchers sell tickets, that’s a fact. The fans get excited at watching a boxer who has the reputation of being capable of a fight ending finish at any moment. Naoya Inoue has earned that reputation.
On May 18th Inoue will be taking part in a semi-final bout of the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament. He will be facing the current IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez of Puerto Rico, a boxer well known to UK fans due to his
The fight has found its home in Glasgow at The SSE Hydro Arena where it will be part of a joint main event alongside Josh Taylor’s clash with excellent Belarusian Ivan Baranchyk in the WBSS Light-welterweight semi-final.
Casual boxing fans may be seeing Inoue for the first time, but the diminutive Japanese fighter has captured the attention of the hard-core fans with his ruthless displays of power punching which includes the May 2018 mauling of our own Jamie McDonnell in Ota-City, Japan.
McDonnell went to Japan to defend his WBA title for the 7th time against the man nicknamed “Monster”. Few experts gave the Doncaster man a chance and they were right. Inoue effortlessly cut the ring down on the taller champion in much the same manor that another of today’s big hitters Gennady Golovkin does. And just like GGG, it was a left hook to the body that started McDonnell’s demise.
In September 2017 Inoue travelled to California to defend his WBO Super-flyweight crown against Cleveland’s Antonio Nieves in his only fight outside of his homeland. Once again, it was Inoue’s left hook attacks to the body that spelt out the inevitable end for the brave American who was pulled out at the end of the 6th round by his corner men.
Holder of the WBC Light-flyweight, WBO Super-flyweight and now WBA Bantamweight titles, Inoue has joined Hozumi Hasegawa, Akira Yaegashi, Kōki Kameda and Kazuto Ioka on the list of Japanese boxers to have won titles in 3 weight divisions. For Inoue, it might have been 4 divisions had he fought for a Flyweight title.
Having Scot Taylor fighting a very highly rated fighter in Baranchyk would probably sell out the SSE Hydro on its own, but having “Monster” on the bill will make this one of the top events of the year in the UK and certainly in Scotland.
So what about Emmanuel Rodriguez’s chances of upsetting the odds?
The Puerto Rican, known as “Manny”, possesses excellent boxing skills which have been honed ever since he started representing his country in international competition as an amateur. He won a Flyweight gold medal at the 2010 Youth Olympics and since turning professional has racked up 19 wins, 12 by stoppage with no losses.
Rodriguez had no problem travelling to England and defeating the excellent Paul Butler and has boxed in both The Dominican Republic and the USA, so fighting in Glasgow will not bother the 26-year-old.
In the only defence of the title he won in London, the Puerto Rican won a split 12 round decision over Aussie Jason Maloney in Orlando, Florida in October 2018.
The first half of the bout looked as if the champion was to going to be too sharp and fast for the challenger, but Maloney came back into it with a display of fierce determination and piled forward, never giving the champion time to rest or use his superior boxing skills.
Inoue will use controlled pressure to wear down Rodriguez from the 1st bell, not allowing the smooth Puerto Rican time to settle into a rhythm as he did in the Butler fight.
It’s quite possible that Rodriguez will last a lot longer than many of the Japanese sharpshooters past opponents, but at some time I believe he will feel the weight of his shots and will suffer his 1st defeat as a professional.
Inoue is fast becoming a boxing sensation, and the more he travels, the more international audiences he impresses with his explosive knockouts, the bigger his star will shine.
Scotland welcomes the arrival of the “Monster”.