With the World Boxing Super Series at bantamweight looming large, Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue makes his debut at 118lbs this weekend in Tokyo looking to pick up a belt in a third weight class against WBA ‘Regular’ champion Jamie McDonnell. The man known as ‘Monster’ is a prodigious talent, winning the WBC light-flyweight title at the age of 20 in only his 6th professional fight, and becoming a 2-weight world champion two fights later when he destroyed WBO super-flyweight champion Omar Narvaez. Since then, his opponents have not quite been of the top drawer, but against McDonnell, Inoue could well face a very tough test.
The Doncaster man is one of British boxing’s ‘ugly duckling’ stories. Long considered a mere domestic/European-level fighter, since 2013, he has won IBF and WBA ‘Regular’ titles, earning impressive wins against the likes of Julio Ceja and Tomoki Kameda twice. He also brings a very awkward style based on high activity and toughness, and at 5’10, dwarfs Inoue by a massive 6 inches.
How Inoue deals with this massive size disparity will be interesting, and McDonnell could well have a lot of success in the early rounds. That said, if he gets to grips with this, Inoue may wear down McDonnell (who has spoken in the past of his struggles to make the 118lb bantamweight limit), especially as he is a fearsome body puncher. This promises to be a very good contest, with a competitive points win or a late stoppage for Inoue being perhaps the most likely outcomes here
There is further world title action on the undercard, as Ken Shiro rematches Ganigan Lopez for the WBC light-flyweight title formerly held by Inoue. Twelve months ago, it was Ken Shiro who won his first world title via a majority decision. Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, defending his title twice, one of which was a tight comeback victory against former Lopez conqueror Pedro Guevara. That experience should hold Ken Shiro in good stead, as he looks to repeat his victory from last year and continue his meteoric rise.