For the first time in his three fights at bantamweight (118 lbs), Japanese boxing sensation Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16 KOs) was unable to put away his opponent in the opening round.
Manny Rodriguez (19-1, 12 KOs) may have gotten out of round one. He would not be so lucky in round two.
In another absolutely stunning, breathtaking performance in Glasgow, Scotland, Inoue beat the brakes off of Rodriguez to take his IBF bantamweight belt and advance to the World Boxing Super Series tournament final. This is the third weight division in which Inoue has won a major world boxing title, with his previous coming at super-flyweight (115 lbs) and junior flyweight (108 lbs).
Inoue’s blinding speed and soul-sapping power yielded three knockdowns in rapid succession, the first coming via a wicked left hook that sent the Puerto Rican sprawling to the canvas. A pair of brutal body shots had Rodriguez in noticeable agony just seconds later, and that looked to be the end of the fight right there. Rodriguez beat the count again, only to be swarmed by “The Monster” and put down for the final time. Even though he got up at eight, he looked discouraged and beaten, and referee Michael Alexander called a halt to the contest.
Watch the video highlights below and be in awe of this man’s skill-set.
I can’t stress enough what Inoue has done in the span of about a year. Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano, and Manny Rodriguez had never been stopped in their respective careers (in Rodriguez’s case, he came in undefeated and never knocked down). Inoue annihilated them in a combined seven minutes and 21 seconds. These are world-class fighters at 118 lbs and this prodigious talent looks to be truly among the best boxers on the planet.
Up next for Inoue is Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26 KOs), a four-division world champion who has had a bit of a fortunate run to the final. The Filipino legend won by injury TKO vs. Ryan Burnett in the quarterfinals, then stopped tournament alternate Stephon Young by crushing left hook KO, as WBO champion Zolani Tete pulled out of his bout with Donaire due to injury.
Naoya Inoue is must-watch TV and even if you don’t follow boxing, you need to follow this man’s career.