In a week where the most high profile boxing event in the western hemisphere is between two debutants with no amateur pedigree at all, I for one am immensely glad that the east is picking up the frankly exorbitant amount of slack. This Thursday the World boxing super series heads to Tokyo to pick up where the immense sporting spectacle that was the Rugby world cup has just ended. They will be trying to create a spectacle that will pull the eyes yet again to a city fast becoming a capital for world sport. Like their rugby team, it is one of their own that will hope to prove to be the starring attraction. Naoya Inoue may look like a schoolboy; with his childlike face, sweet smile and calm demeanor he looks positively pleasant but when he steps into that ring he is every bit his moniker, The Monster. with his power, speed, footwork and dynamism he is hoping to put on a show for his home town fans and add another belt to his growing collection. He stands however in front of a veteran of the sport, a wily campaigner who has fought some of the biggest names in the world in and around this weight class. Nonito Donaire has been written off more times than you can count but every time he’s come back and got himself in the mix with the best. He’s proved he’s not scared of anyone and I’m sure Thursday will be no different.
When the bantamweight WBSS was announced I stated two things; that the depth of the field was the best of WBSS and that the Final would be between Naoya Inoue and Ryan Burnett. I absolutely stand by my first statement, I do still think that although huge stars like Callum Smith, Olekasder Usyk and now Josh Taylor have emerged from the WBSS the combined talents of; Inoue, Donaire, Burnett, Tete, Rodriguez, and Payano combined to make it the strongest tournament yet. The second statement was close to being true, in Donaire’s quarterfinal matchup against Burnett he was losing the fight behind on all the cards when Burnett was forced to pull out with a freak back injury. Despite this being no way to win Donaire has grasped the opportunity with both hands and has bagged a place in this final because of that.
Inoue’s quarterfinal, on the other hand, was a very different affair. Coming off the back of his stunning first-round stoppage of Jamie McDonell, Inoue was the number one seed but he picked a very tough first fight in Juan Carlos Payano. The 21-1 Dominican was seen as a potential banana skin for the up and coming Inoue. However, a Banana skin is no use against a monster truck and Inoue landed a punch that can only be described as perfect. Immense power, impeccable accuracy and an accompanying sound that was both sickening and satisfying. It was my 2018 Knockout of the year and despite a field of worthy contenders, I had Inoue head and shoulders above the rest. These contrasting quarterfinals caught the attention of boxing and with Tete and Rodrigez winning too the stage was set for two mouthwatering Semi-Final clashes. the confirmation of Inoue v Rodriguez and Donaire v Tete reinforced my belief that this was the strongest WBSS yet.
Injury was to strike again however as Zolani Tete was forced out of his bout by a shoulder Injury forcing Donaire to take on late replacement Stephon Young on the Prograis v Relikh undercard in Lafayette. The Philipino Flash was on fire as he rolled back the years and boxed sublimely before pulling off his own breathtaking knockout. His left hook whipped in with almost nonchalant ease when a punch is so well-rehearsed, so technically perfect that it carries the power to snap a man from his consciousness in an instant, and that is what happened Young. With this powerful Donaire stamped his authority onto the tournament and reminded people why he was still a top contender at 118lbs.
Just a month later and not one to be outdone Inoue was back and like Donaire, Inoue made it his mission to upstage the junior welterweights that were topping the bill. He lit up Glasgow with a blistering destruction of Rodriguez. With the eyes of the world media on him and the ring magazine belt on the line, Inoue produced a career-best performance. He showed incredible punch verity attacking the head and body almost simultaneously, he seemed to have the poise of a ballet dancer and venom of a deadly snake. When the camera panned to Rodreigezes’ bloodied face after the third knockdown it was a painting of pure defeat, a man asking what kind of wild beast have you put me in the ring with? And thus Inoue joined Donaire in the final of an exhilarating tournament.
As we creep ever closer I grow more and more convinced of the outcome of this fight than ever. I believe it to be a question of when, not if, Inoue knocks out Donaire. Inoue is for me the most devastating puncher pound for pound in world boxing, although many say Wilder holds this accolade I disagree. I think it is very easy to imagine a 6″7, 215lbs man being able to knock someone out, but a 5″5 118lbs Japanese kid, competing in a weight class known for producing long-winded decisions? That kid is the hardest puncher in the world. If my hypothesis is true it means that the task Donaire faces on Thursday is to beat the hardest puncher in the world, with the hometown advantage, with championship advantage, and with sky-high confidence, and he has to do all that at 36 years of age. I believe Donaire, crafty and resurgent though he is, faces a Sisyphean task. I cannot see any outcome other than an Inoue knockout.
Ewan Breeze – Rebel Boxing for SimBoxx🥊
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