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Jamie McDonnell vs. Naoya Inoue – analysis & prediction

Image: Jamie McDonnell vs. Naoya Inoue - analysis & prediction

By Scott Gilfoid: Jamie McDonnell (29-2-1, 13 KOs) will be putting his WBA World bantamweight title on the line this Friday night on May 25 against former 2 division world champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue (15-0, 13 KOs) at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.

McDonnell, 32, believes that Inoue has never fought anyone like him before, and he could be right. The 5’5” Inoue has never fought anyone as tall as the 5’10” McDonnell in his six-year pro career. But in terms actual talent, McDonnell is unquestionably far behind past Inoue’s opponents like David Carmona, Omar Andres Narvaez and Ryoichi Taguchi.

Jamie McDonnell is a decent fighter, but he clearly deserved one-sided loss in his first fight against Liborio Solis in November 2016 in Monte Carlo. The judges gave the Eddie Hearn promoted Jamie McDonnell a wide 12 round unanimous decision victory. Many boxing fans disagreed with the decision, feeling that Solis deserved the victory. I had the fight scored 11 rounds to 1 in favor of Solis, and even the one round I gave to McDonnell was one that could have gone for Solis as well. In their rematch last November, McDonnell suffered a cut causing the fight to be halted in the 3rd round and ruled a no decision. The referee didn’t let the round end to see if McDonnell’s corner could stop the blood. Solis appeared to win both of the first 2 rounds, and he was getting the better of McDonnell in the 3rd as well. Rather than face Solis a third time, McDonnell has chosen to move on. It’s a questionable move on McDonnell’s part because he never did clear up the controversy of his very, very questionable victory over Solis. It’s a bad deal for Solis, because he never got a chance to avenge the loss, but that’s boxing for you.

”I do not think that Naoya Inoue has fought someone like me in his entire career,” McDonnell said to ”There is a difference in the boxing level between me and him. Naoya Inoue is a great boxer and a knockout artist, and he’s one of the best fighters in the world, pound-for-pound, but I can box with anyone. “I am unbeaten for the last 10 years,” McDonnell said.

Yeah, technically McDonnell is unbeaten in the last 10 years of his career since his back to back losses to Lee Haskins and Chris Edwards in 2007 and 2008. But in the real sense, McDonnell lost to Liborio Solis or should I say he should have lost to him by a lopsided 12 round decision in 2016. Winning fights by controversy isn’t the same thing as actually winning them. In my book, McDonnell should have an asterisk next to his win over Solis in 2016, but that was way too controversial for it to be scored as a true victory. For the boxing fans that thought Saul Canelo Alvarez’s 12 round draw against middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin was highly questionable, McDonnell’s victory over Solis was on another a completely different level. It was easily the most controversial fight I’ve ever seen before. I’ve seen a fight with scoring that was so far off that was out of his galaxy. At best, McDonnell deserved 1 round against Solis. At worst, he didn’t rate any rounds. It was that one-sided of a fight. That’s why McDonnell sounds so disingenuous for him to be banging on about how he hasn’t been beaten in 10 years, and how he’s been a world champion for the last 4 years. I don’t agree with McDonnell at all. He’s been beaten, but it just doesn’t show on the record books.

Obviously, McDonnell can’t box with anyone, as we saw in his fight with Solis. McDonnell was dominated by Solis. His boxing was useless against the much shorter 5’4” Solis, who was getting inside on McDonnell and battering him with quick combinations. McDonnell was unable to box Solis because he wasn’t fast enough or dare I say talented enough to beat the Venezuelan fighter.

This will be McDonnell’s 7th and likely his final defense of his WBA World 118lb tile on Friday against the 25-year-old Inoue. McDonnell has been the WBA ‘regular’ bantamweight strap holder since beating Thailand fighter Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat by a 10th round knockout in May 2014. McDonnell has since defended his WBA title against the following contenders:

Javier Nicholas Chacon

Tomoki Kameda x 2

Fernando Vargas (32-14-3) – It’s unclear why McDonnell defended against a contender with a record like this, but oh well, I guess he was seen as an easy mark

Liborio Solis x 2

Most boxing fans expect Inoue to absolutely destroy McDonnell on Friday, and I agree with them. The only way McDonnell doesn’t get knocked out by Inoue on Friday is if there’s another cut stoppage like we saw in his last fight with Solis. Inoue is going to need to need to be careful with McDonnell’s head when he’s throwing body shots, because he likes to lower his head when he’s on the inside. One would hope that if McDonnell suffers another cut, the referee will at least let the round finish in order to wait and see whether his corner can stop the stop the bleeding. McDonnell can’t make it a habit of suffering cuts that causes the fight to be stopped early.

Inoue will be hoping to win his third division world title against McDonnell. With the way that Inoue has looked lately, it’s going to be a real tough ask for McDonnell to go the distance with him. Despite being lanky, McDonnell doesn’t utilize his height and reach advantage as much as you would think. He tends to stand at medium distance and win his fights by throwing tons of weak shots that overwhelm his opponents. McDonnell throws a lot of looping punches that this shorter opponents have a hard time tracking.

Inoue has captured world titles in beating Adrian Hernandez and Omar Andres Narvaez. Inoue won his first world title in his 6th pro fight in beating Adrian Hernandez by a 6th round knockout to capture the World Boxing Council World light flyweight title in April 2014. Two fights later, Inoue moved up to 115 and beat WBO World super flyweight champion Omar Narvaez by a 2nd round knockout in December 2014 to win his second division world title.

Inoue won’t have to worry about the judges on Friday, because he’s likely going to make spectators out of all three of them. The main thing that Inoue has to worry about his a clash of heads. If McDonnell lowers his head like he did against Solis in the rematch, we could see a clash of heads that opens up a cut on one of the fighters. Hopefully that’s not the case but it’s possible. In fact, I’m predicting a cut at some point from a head-butt.

McDonnell will likely move up to super bantamweight after this fight, as it’s not easy for the 5’10” fighter to melt down to 118 to fight. He probably should have made the move to 122 after his controversial victory over Solis in 2016, because he’s too painfully thin to be fighting stout bantamweights. McDonnell would likely be way out of his element if he fought the likes of Luis Nery and Zolani Tete. By moving up in weight to super bantamweight, McDonnell can put some badly needed muscle on his slender frame and that might help him against the stronger fighters. The 122lb division is looking very good right now, and I’m sure that McDonnell will have a place there. It would be a shame if he spends the remainder of his career draining himself to make 118 once he loses his WBA title against Inoue on Friday. There’s no more easy marks for McDonnell to beat in order to be a world champion at bantamweight. The division is now well stocked with talented fighters, and that means McDonnell is likely going to be out of luck.


Inoue will win the fight by a 5th round knockout after hitting McDonnell with a powerful left-hand liver shot. McDonnell won’t be the count and the fight will be halted at that point.

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