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Monster mash: Naoya Inoue puts a scare into his boxing opponents

Written By | Oct 30, 2020
Naoya Inoue (left) faces Jason Moloney in a fight you shouldn't let slip under your radar on Saturday, Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing Inoue vs Moloney

Naoya Inoue (left) faces Jason Moloney in a fight you shouldn’t let slip under your radar on Saturday, Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

SAN DIEGO, Calif., October 30, 2020 – Three major fight cards take place on Halloween Saturday from the UK and US. The one most in danger of escaping notice is the one fans cannot afford to miss.

Phenomenal pound for pound talent and 27-year-old undefeated three-weight division champion Naoya “The Monster” Inoue of Japan (19-0, 16 KOs) fights Saturday in Las Vegas. It’s not his first fight on US soil, but it’s his first main event against Australian Jason Moloney (21-1, 18 KOs). Inoue defends his WBA/IBF/Ring Magazine bantamweight titles.

The card airs on ESPN+, starting with undercards at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT.

At 118 pounds, Naoya "The Monster" Inoue may be the most feared opponent in boxing today. Photo: World Boxing Super Series 2019 Fight of the Year

At 118 pounds, Naoya “The Monster” Inoue is among the most feared opponents in boxing today. Photo: World Boxing Super Series

Inoue is every bit the power punching knockout threat Deontay Wilder is, except that he weighs 100 pounds less at 118 pounds. Few of his fights go past two rounds. He’s a living highlight reel for boxing fans.

If you don’t believe me, do a search on YouTube and enjoy yourself. I’ll wait.

In the World Boxing Super Series final last November, Inoue finally faced an opponent worthy of him, the surprising veteran Nonito Donaire. Donare, a late replacement, gave Inoue the fight of his young life, rocking him in the second round so hard he broke Inoue’s orbital bone. Both men repeatedly buzzed each other. Donaire got off the canvas twice to survive to the final bell. It’s the kind of fight where it’s a shame either man has to lose in the record books, but Inoue prevailed by scores of 117-109, 116-111, and 114-113. Donaire likely made himself a first-ballot lock for the International Boxing Hall of Fame in a loss.

Inoue determined to make a statement against Moloney

Jason Moloney delivered seven rounds of punishment, causing Leonardo Baez's corner to stop the bout. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Jason Moloney delivered seven rounds of punishment, causing Leonardo Baez’s corner to stop the bout. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

The injury will now get tested against Moloney, who came to US fans’ attention on one of the earliest pandemic era fight cards on June 25 with a win over Leonardo Baez of Mexico. Moloney demonstrates his bravery being willing to step in with Inoue, and he’s brimming with confidence over his opportunity.

“I love being the underdog, and I love proving people wrong and going out there and, as I’ve said before, shocking the world,” said Moloney. “I know a lot of people don’t give me a chance in this fight, and that just gives me extra motivation and extra fire in the belly to go out there and show people what can be done. People place some of these fighters like Inoue and (Vasiliy) Lomachenko on this pedestal and think that they’re unbeatable, but they’re not. We’re all human. We all got two arms and two legs, and everyone has weaknesses. Everybody can be beaten.”

Inoue, who prefers to do his talking in the ring, said, “There are a lot of expectations, and I want to meet those expectations. I take those big expectations, and I use them as motivation and power to keep getting better with every fight.”

Naoya Inoue shows off a custom Los Angeles Dodgers jersey, a gift from the team signed by pitcher Kenta Maeda in 2017. Photo: Tom Hogan, K2 Promotions

Inoue is a huge star in Japan, where boxing is a major sport. He says he wants to prove how strong Japanese athletes are to the rest of the world, something done in baseball by the likes of Ichiro Suzuki and Hideo Nomo. Inoue is the man to do it. He’s exciting to watch and can make even the most hardcore heavyweight fan take notice. If you love knockouts, it shouldn’t matter when the person delivering them weighs 118 pounds or 218 pounds. This is a Halloween treat you need in your candy bag. Pray for Moloney, he’s brave and he’s got skills, but few opponents last long against The Monster.

Mikaela Mayer gets first pro title fight against Ewa Brodnicka

Ewa Brodnicka (left) and Mikaela Mayer fight for Brodnicka's WBO World Junior LIghtweight title. Photo: MIkey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

Ewa Brodnicka (left) and Mikaela Mayer fight for Brodnicka’s WBO World Junior Lightweight title. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Boxing

The most notable fight on the undercard is a women’s WBO junior lightweight title fight between the champion Ewa Brodnicka of Poland (19-0, 2 KOs) and American Mikaela Mayer (13-0, 5 KOs). It is a fight Mayer has long lobbied for with Top Rank chief Bob Arum.

“I feel like I’m deserving. I’ve been the No. 1 contender for a long time. This fight will put me a step {closer to} my goal” of unifying the division, said Mayer.

Brodnicka did not make the 130-pound weight limit on the scale, weighing in at 130.9. She could not get down to the limit and therefore lost her title on the scale. Mayer can still win the title, but if Brodnicka wins the title will now remain vacant.

Brodnicka says the fight was destined to happen, even without Mayer’s mandatory challenger status. At this week’s news conference the women met for the first time face to face.

“I brought my belt just to show it to you. Look at it,” said Brodnicka. “I didn’t bring this belt to give it to you. That’s not happening. For sure. I don’t care if she says that she doesn’t respect me. She makes a lot of mistakes, and I’m going to take advantage of all of them.”

Mayer isn’t making many mistakes these days. Under the guidance of longtime coach Al Mitchell, and inspiration from another Mitchell fighter, the late Vernon Forrest, Mayer has significantly improved her skills from her amateur and Olympic competition.

We asked Mayer why Forrest, a champion who died in 2009 after an auto accident she’s never met, is her greatest influence in the ring.

“I’m peaking as an athlete. I’m really coming into my own. And so it’s really not about Ewa. It’s really about me. They always train me like I’m going up against somebody amazing, and I always have to be like, ‘You guys, don’t worry, relax. I got this.’ But that’s what good coaches do. They’re looking at everything Ewa Brodnicka does really well and then they’re acting as if she does it better than how she actually does it.”

Mayer’s footwork, power, and accuracy are turning her into a boxer-puncher rare among the women athletes. She is slick and relentless. Brodnicka will test Mayer, but she should be able to take all the tools from her toolkit and defeat Brodnicka, who hasn’t ever faced an opponent as skilled as Mayer.

Arum is a big believer in Mayer, who seems to get a kick out of taking orders from Mayer who is at age 30 young enough to be the 89-year old’s granddaughter. “When Mikaela gives the orders, you step to attention and try to get {the world title fight} done,” said Arum. “We’re very proud of Mikaela. She’s comported herself tremendously, both in and out of the ring, and she’s going to be a great world champion and a great credit to women’s boxing.” Arum will need to get busy if Mayer wins. She wants a unification bout with sensational British champion Terri Harper.

Undercard bouts starting at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT:

Robson Conceição vs. Luis Coria, ten rounds, junior lightweights

Andres Cortes vs. George Acosta, eight rounds, junior lightweights

Julian Rodriguez vs. Jose Eduardo Lopez Rodriguez, ten rounds, junior welterweights

Jared Anderson vs. Luis Eduardo Pena, six rounds, heavyweights

Andy Hiraoka vs. Rickey Edwards, eight rounds, junior welterweights

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.  

Copyright © 2020 by Falcon Valley Group


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Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.