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Naoya Inoue installed at No.1 with WBA at bantamweight

Image: Naoya Inoue installed at No.1 with WBA at bantamweight

By Scott Gilfoid: Former 2 division world champion Naoya Inoue (15-0, 13 KOs) has been installed at No.1 by the World Boxing Association in their new ratings at bantamweight without having fought in the division. Inoue, 24, is vacating his WBO super flyweight belt and moving up to what he hopes is bigger and better things in the 118 lb. weight class.

The New rankings for the WBA puts Inoue in position to challenge WBA World bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell (29-2-1, 13 KOs) for his title. McDonnell, 31, has been very, very lucky in his last 2 fights to still be the WBA ‘regular’ 118 lb. belt holder, as won a controversial 12 round unanimous decision over Liborio Solis in November of 2016 in Monte Carlo.

McDonnell appeared to win 2 of the 12 rounds, but the judges seemed to give him rounds in which he was dominated by Solis. The WBA ordered a McDonnell-Solis rematch, and that fight was ruled a 3rd round no decision last November. The fight was stopped due to McDonnell suffering a cut. Since the fight didn’t go enough rounds for it to be an official fight, it was ruled a no decision.

Solis being skipped over by Inoue for a title shot against McDonnell looks bad. It doesn’t look like Solis will ever get a third fight with McDonnell, because he’s expected to move up to super bantamweight after the Inoue fight. McDonnell has nothing to lose in facing Inoue. Even if McDonnell gets beaten, which is almost academic, it won’t matter because he’s moving up in weight to the 122 lb. weight class anyway, and he will have been beaten by one of the best fighters in boxing.

Inoue brings his own judges to his fights in the form of his 2 fists, so it’s unlikely suffer the same fate that Liborio Solis did in his very controversial loss to McDonnell in 2016. If McDonnell sees the 12th round, I’d be very surprised. Inoue will need to watch out though that he doesn’t land too many head shots in the fight in the early going, because if McDonnell suffers another cut, we could see the fight stopped early and ruled a no decision again.

Inoue needs to focus on throwing to the body of McDonnell and make sure the judges don’t have a say so in the results of the fight.

Here are the WBA’s new top 15 rankings for bantamweight:

1. Naoya Inoue

2. Yonfrez Parejo

3. Liborio Solis

4. Stephon Yong

5. Reymart Gaballo

6. Jason Maloney

7. Juan Carlos Payano

8. Mikhail Aloyan

9. Zhanat Zhakiyanov

10. Paul Butler

11. Kittipong Jaigrajang

12. Alexander Espinoza

13. Shingo Wake

14. Gerardo Castillo

15. Tassana Sanpatta

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