Sightings of a Monster have intensified this past week with people taking to social media in their droves to give eye-witness accounts with pictures and video footage as evidence, before I continue no I haven’t lost my mind….just yet and no I’m not describing the Loch Ness monster either but one who has caused more devastation in only a fraction of his time on earth, a monster who as flown over fourteen hours to show the world the very reason opposition either run for the hills or find themselves motionless for the seconds it usually takes for the referee to count to ten.
Standing at a mere 5ft 5 inches tall and weighing just 118-Pounds I bet your thinking ‘how bad can this monster be?’ but a click away on YouTube will give you that answer in full, one that has caused a path of devastation unlike anything we have witnessed in the lower weight classes before, a path that has been paved by Japan’s Naoya Inoue.
His record of 17 wins with 15 knockouts is impressive enough to peak the interest of even the more casual of observer but further still is the way in which he has kicked the doors off the hinges of each division he has entered, a very rare feat if you also consider that he is generally considered the best in each visited.
Boxing writers, myself included shower him with superlatives for good reason, left falling over ourselves in admiration of the fighter from Yokohama, but its not just those who watch from the safety of their ringside seats that Inoue has left a lasting impression with, a host of past victims will testify to his greatness, Antonio Nieves in particular gave a glowing assessment after he himself wilted under the bright lights of the StubHub arena in Los Angeles in 2017.
“He honestly is a great fighter and I would say [a top] pound-for-pound [boxer],”Nieves told ESPN.com
“He punches hard and he punches fast, Sometimes you run into guys that are great punchers but are not really quick, so you can’t adjust. Sometimes you run into guys who are really quick but can’t really punch so you can adjust.
“But this kid just has it all. He’s quick, he has great leg movement, good footwork. He’s just a great overall fighter.”
I bring you to the attention of Nieves because on Saturday night in Glasgow, Scotland, one of his countrymen Emmanuel Rodriguez will find himself in the crosshairs of Inoue in the Semi-Finals of the World Boxing Super Series.
Rodriguez like Inoue as never tasted defeat in his professional career, making his way to this stage of the competition by beating Australia’s Jason Moloney in a gruelling fight that could be very telling in predicting an outcome for this one according to Nieves.
“Even though I’d like to see my fellow countryman win, it’s going to be hard for him,” Nieves admitted. “In that first fight in the tournament [versus Jason Moloney, Rodriguez] was getting hit cleanly — and I believe that if Inoue hits you clearly as many times, you’re going to go out.”
Should Inoue be victorious on Saturday night, it will set up an all Asian contest in the final of the WBSS Bantamweight tournament between himself and Filipino future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire, a contest that both have shown interest in making a reality.
“I’ll be supporting (Inoue) to get to the finals so that we can face off. I’ll be there,” said Donaire.
Nonito as done his part, over to you Naoya.