WBA bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell (29-2-1, 13KOs) defends his title for the seventh time against the hard hitting Naoya Inoue (15-0, 13KOs) in Tokyo, Japan.
McDonnell has been searching for a big name his whole career and they don’t come much bigger than the ‘Monster’. Japan’s superstar may have only fought 15 professional fights but he is already a two-weight world champion and is considered by many boxing experts as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world today.
Inoue is only 25-years-old and is hoping he can dethrone the Doncaster-born champion in his bantamweight debut. If successful the former light-flyweight and super-flyweight world champion will enter the bantamweights World Boxing Super Series that includes Ryan Burnett, Zolani Tete and Emmanuel Rodriguez.
Of course McDonnell will have something to say about that and brings more experience to the table. When the 32-year-old won his world title back in 2013 Inoue had only been in 3 professional bouts but he was crowned the 108lb world champion in his sixth and super-flyweight champ in his eighth pro fight.
Make no bones about it McDonnell is in deep against a very special talent and will have to produce the performance of his life and hope Inoue has an off night if he is to be successful.
The British No.2 has fought 245 rounds in 33 bouts with a knockout ratio of 33% and a combined opponent record of 527-248-29.
This will be the third time the Yorkshire man has faced Japanese opposition after outpointing Tomoki Kameda in back to back victories. He also recorded impressive wins against Mexican Julio Ceja and Thailand’s Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat.
Jamie has fought in France, America (twice) and Monaco (twice) so he is not afraid to travel but fighting in Japan is a different kettle of fish. Trainer David Coldwell decided to settle in Dubai before travelling to Tokyo so that McDonnell can acclimatize to the weather and time difference gradually.
Having to step into the ring with Inoue is hard enough let alone having the added diversion of settling into a completely different environment altogether.
The Japanese sensation has stopped 13 of his 15 opponents notching up an 83% knockout ratio while accumulating 91 rounds and has a combined opponent record of 355-59-22.
Inoue has recorded excellent wins against Japan’s Ryoichi Taguchi, Mexicans Adrian Hernandez and David Carmona plus Argentinian Omar Andres Narvaez and American Antonio Nieves. Even more impressive was the way Inoue dispatched Frenchman Yoan Boyeaux inside 3-rounds in his last outing.
The world bantamweight No.1 gives away 4-inches in height and reach against the world champion. Inoue has not fought anyone this tall before so his team identified Brummie featherweight Raza Hamza as the perfect sparring partner in preparation for McDonnell.
Even though the Englishman does fight small he will still have a clear height advantage so Inoue will have to make slight adjustments to his aggressive style. That being said the Japanese fighter has power in both hands when throwing those looping shots like we saw in the first round against Boyeaux.
Inoue does not waste his punches and is very patient while he stalks his opponents around the ring, almost Golovkin-like. If he doesn’t take you out with head shots then his brutal body attacks will. No doubt Inoue has power at the 115lb division so the extra 3-pounds will not make any difference in my opinion.
McDonnell will have to stay on the outside using his jab to maintain his distance while throwing punches in bunches when on the inside. Timing and footwork will be the key if he is to be successful. His fitness has never been in question so he will be able to sustain a high level of work rate as he always does in every fight. Inoue is heavy handed but McDonnell has never been stopped which shows a solid chin.
As a British boxing fan I do hope that McDonnell can produce the upset of all upsets and defeat the dangerous Inoue. Unfortunately I can see only one winner and that is Inoue by stoppage. If McDonnell can hear the final bell that would be an achievement in itself.
Not only do I predict Inoue to win on Friday night I also believe this kid will become a unified bantamweight champion and Mohammed Ali trophy winner come 2019. If you didn’t know about this guy then you will do very soon as I’m tipping Naoya Inoue to become one of the biggest stars in world boxing.