SAN DIEGO, Calif., May 18, 2019 – The World Boxing Super Series finals in the bantamweight and super lightweight tournaments are set after winning performances by Naoya Inoue of Japan and Josh Taylor of Scotland in Glasgow on Saturday.
Naoya Inoue destroys Emmanuel Rodriguez in short order
Naoya Inoue of Japan (18-0, 16 KOs) delighted his Japanese fans in Scotland, even thought they only got to see him fight one and half rounds. The two division champion blew through his best opponent to date, Emmanuel Rodriguez of Puerto Rico (19-1, 12 KOs). Inoue retains his WBA title and won Rodriguez’s IBF title with a stoppage at 1:19 of the second round.
Inoue didn’t guarantee he’d get a knockout prior to the fight, but who are we kidding. Rodriguez came out aggressively, and delivered enough solid punches in round one to make Inoue think. But in round two, Inoue found the home for his hellacious left hook. The first knockdown was to the head. Rodriguez got up, bleeding from the nose but light on his feet. The next two left hooks went to the liver. Rodriguez crawled and rolled on the canvas after each one. He got up from both, but with Inoue unleashing a barrage of punches, referee Michael Grant quickly moved in to protect Rodriguez.
See The Monster’s stunning stoppage performance here:
Doubters about Inoue have quickly become the minority. Rodriguez was considered a solid test for Inoue, just as Juan Carlos Payano and Jamie McDonnell were. Payano and McDonnell were dispatched within a round. Rodriguez lasted an additional half round.
“I came out looking to performed aggressively. I was able to perform very well tonight,” said Inoue, boxing’s understatement of the year. “He came out in the first round and gave me a lot of pressure. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out after the first round. This is a ring where I felt very much at home,” said Inoue, thanking the Glasgow fans for welcoming him.
It’s challenging to write about Inoue, because we’ve used up most of our superlatives. He’s powerful, technically sound, and focused. He’s a 118-pound human higlight reel. Inoue will now face veteran and 2012 Fighter of the Year Nonito Donaire of the Phillipines, now living in the U.S. (40-5, 26 KOs). Donaire was ringside for the fight, and joined Inoue in the ring after the fight. “We always felt we were going to meet each other. It’s destiny. He is a monster. You just have to learn how to take the monster. That’s something I have to figure out,” said Donaire. “It makes me feel like I’m 21 again, it excites me,” said the 36-year-old veteran.
“Nonito has a great career record. He’s a great fighter, I respect him and look forward to it. I don’t know how I’m going to fight him yet. I will go back to the drawing board,” said Inoue. It will be a tall order for Donaire to take on Inoue, but Donaire has enjoyed a late career revival after dropping down to bantamweight from featherweight in the last year.
Josh Taylor delights hometown fans with win over Ivan Baranchyk
Scottish southpaw Josh “The Tartan Tornado” Taylor (15-0, 12 KOs) and Ivan “The Beast” Baranchyk Of Belarus via Oklahoma (19-1, 12 KOs) put on a power punching clinic in their semifinal, with neither one yielding for a moment. Fueled by a duo of sixth round knockdowns, Taylor pushed through for the unanmous decision victory. Scores were 117-109, and 115-111 X 2. Taylor wins Baranchyk’s IBF title with the victory.
Befitting their monikers, neither man had much use for jabs, parrying, or defensive movement. This fight was built on sheer output, taking place in small sections of the ring with the best sustained action in the World Boxing Super Series this year. Both men did their share of scoring in the first half of the fight.
In the sixth round, Baranchyk was having success landing shots when Taylor connected on a right hook to the head. Baranchyk beat the count, and Taylor poured on left hooks trying to close the show. Baranchyk suffered a second knockdown, but it was counted right at the bell and he made it to his corner.
Through the next five rounds, Baranchyk went for broke and Taylor entertained him, trading punches with gusto. Taylor got the better of the exchanges, but he didn’t need to put himself at such risk, especially with a final looming against another formidable puncher. Going into the final round, trainer Freddie Roach told Baranchyk, “Knock him out Ivan.” Easier said than done, but both men blasted away to the delight of the crowd for the final three minutes, embracing each other at the final bell in the best Gatti vs. Ward tradition of fellow warriors.
Wearing a t-shirt reading “And the new,” an elated Taylor said “It’s a dream, and the new! I’m over the moon! And the new!” Taylor made the brawl seem like a walk in the park. “I took more rest than I should have, I was very comfortable in there. I took more punches than I should have. It was easy peasy.”
Taylor said after the sixth round, he thought he could finish Baranchyk off. “I was just picking him off jabs, taking my foot off the gas and boxing him. I made it harder for myself than I had to.”
Taylor and Prograis set for WBSS super lightweight final
Taylor will now face WBA champion Regis Prograis of the U.S. in the final, a true unification fight. Prograis watched from ringside and joined Taylor post-fight. “I feel I’m the best, he feels he’s the best. It will be a good fight,” said Taylor of his opponent.
Prograis agreed. “Excellent fight, excellent atmosphere, hell of a fight. I felt the fight would go the distrance. They put on a show, best fighting the best is what the WBSS is all about. I’m sure he thought he was going to fight me the whole time, now it’s going to happen.” Amen, brother.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on social media at @PRProSanDiego.
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