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Naoya Inoue vs. Jamie McDonnell – Results

Image: Naoya Inoue vs. Jamie McDonnell – Results

By Scott Gilfoid: Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue (16-0, 14 KOs) made easy work of WBA World bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell (29-3-1, 13 KOs) in scoring a 1st round technical knockout on Friday night at the OTA-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.

Inoue, 25, dropped McDonnell twice in the round. The referee Louis Pabon jumped in and waived the fight off a fraction of a second before McDonnell went down for the second time in the round. The official time of the stoppage was at 1:52 of round 1.

Inoue dropped the 32-year-old McDonnell with a left to the body. Moments before that, Inoue had staggered McDonnell with a brutal left hook to the head. Inoue then followed it up with another left that dropped McDonnell. After the knockdown, McDonnell made a critical mistake in backing up against the ropes and trying to fight it out. It was the wrong thing to do against a murderous puncher like Inoue, as it caused the 5’10” McDonnell to give up his reach by giving him no way of moving away from the much shorter 5’5” Inoue.

Trapped against the ropes, McDonnell tried to exchange with the much quicker Inoue, but he was too slow. Inoue unloaded on McDonnell with a flurry of speedy shots, most of which missed, but at least three hard shots hit home. After getting hit by a jarring left followed by a crushing right to the head, McDonnell sunk down to the canvas. The referee had already stopped the fight while McDonnell was standing on his feet, so it’s unclear whether the second knockdown counted or not. It didn’t matter. McDonnell was done for the night. Had the referee allowed the fight to continue, Inoue would have knocked McDonnell flat right away, as he was unable to take his shots, and he couldn’t defend against him due to his porous defense.

The punching power of Inoue was devastating. He was like a mini-Gennady Golovkin, but even more powerful for his division. In the early moments of round 1, Inoue landed a left hook to the body of McDonnell that clearly hurt him, causing him to back away to try and avoid getting hit again. Inoue calmly followed McDonnell around, looking for an opening to land his monstrously powerful shots.

”I’ll participate in the World Boxing Super Series to face other world champions with pleasure,” Inoue said after the fight.

McDonnell fought like he had no idea of what to do inside the ring. He wasn’t showing much ring smarts. He needed to use his jab, but he wasn’t even trying to connect with any of those shots. McDonnell was on the run after getting hit with a left to the body. McDonnell stopped trying to fight after Inoue touched him to the body with a perfect left hook.

As far as McDonnell’s struggles making weight for the fight, I don’t think it would have mattered one bit had he hit it perfectly. Inoue was hurting McDonnell with body shots, and he would have been hurt by the same shots even if he’d made the weight with ease. Inoue would have been trouble for anyone in the 118 or 122 lb. weight classes with his body punching tonight. Inoue fighting at featherweight would be a different story, however. There are some huge punchers in that weight class like Scott Quigg and Oscar Valdez that would be a problem for Inoue. I’m not sure that Inoue could handle those fighters’ punching power, as they hit too hard. But at 118, Inoue looks like a real beast.

You’ve got to give McDonnell some credit for getting back up after the first knockdown of the fight. He was hurt, and it was clear that he wasn’t going to be able to make it out of the round unless he fought smart to try and tie Inoue up. McDonnell didn’t do that though. He did the worst possible thing a fighter can do when they’re hurt by foolishly backing up against the ropes, making himself a stationary target against his shorter opponent. It was a rookie mistake by a veteran, which showed that McDonnell had lost his senses completely in the heat of the battle. McDonnell was flustered, panicking and fighting like he no longer was thinking clearly. Inoue then moved in and finished the trapped McDonnell with a horde of shots. In looking at the fight again, I counted 4 brutal punches that Inoue landed to finish off McDonnell.

The thing is, Inoue could have gotten McDonnell out of there even if he’d landed one or two perfectly placed shots. McDonnell could not handle Inoue’s power and he was no fighting with his head. Once Inoue had McDonnell hurt, he steamed through him like he was butter and there was nothing that the British fighter could do about it to prevent the inevitable from happening. Obviously, it would have been smarter for McDonnell to stay in the center of the ring to keep Inoue off him, but it appeared that never occurred to him. McDonnell looked like he was panicking and not using his brain. There was nothing that McConnell could do once he was against the ropes. He looked like he was hoping to catch Inoue with a lucky shot in between of his combinations. Inoue was unloading on McDonnell, and he was vulnerable with the way he was letting his shots go. McDonnell’s shots missed their mark unfortunately for him. Had he landed at least one of his punches, he might have been able to hurt Inoue.

Inoue sent a clear message to the other fighters at bantamweight tonight with his brutal beat down of McDonnell.

With the victory, Inoue is now the new WBA ‘regular’ bantamweight champion. He’ll be entering the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament and going after WBA Super World 118 lb. champion Ryan Burnett, IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez and WBO champion Zolani Tete. It’s very likely that Inoue will emerge holding 3 of the 4 bantamweight titles by the time the WBSS tourney is over. The only belt that won’t be in Inoue’s possession will be the WBC title, which is currently vacant.

McDonnell’s future is uncertain at this point. He had talked of wanting to enter the World Boxing Super Series tournament, and retire after winning it, but that pipe dream is obviously over. The only question now is whether McDonnell continues to fight or not. If he does, then he clearly needs to move up to super bantamweight because he’s too big for the 118lb weight class. McDonnell reportedly gained 26 pounds overnight after rehydrating after the weigh-in last Friday. McDonnell weighed in at 117 ½ lbs. For a fighter to gain back 26 lbs. of water weight in the bantamweight division, it’s an incredible amount of weight to put back on. That would be like a light heavyweight gaining back 50 lbs. of water. It’s an absurd amount of weight to put on overnight for the 118lb weight class. I’m not sure that even fighting at super bantamweight would work for McDonnell. If he’s gaining back 26 lbs. of water weight after rehydrating, it’s more likely that McDonnell needs to move up to featherweight at 126 lbs. because he’s too heavy for the 122 lb. weight class as well in my view.

Going to super bantamweight isn’t going to make things any better for McDonnell. At the weigh-in, McDonnell looked sickly with all the water weight that he’d stripped off to make the 118lb limit. During the fight, McDonnell looked like a slender light welterweight inside the ring. He was huge in comparison to Inoue. Being bigger than your opponent often helps, but in this case, it made McDonnell far too slow to compete against the speedy Inoue. It might be a clever idea for McDonnell to think of retirement.

The way that McDonnell looked in his two previous fights against Liborio Solis was that of a guy that no longer had it. McDonnell dodged a clear loss in his first fight against Solis in November 2016. McDonnell won the fight by a 12 round unanimous decision, but he was beaten and looked like he’d lost at least 11 of the 12 rounds. The fight against Solis showed that McDonnell was slow on the trigger, and that he’d lost four or five steps from the fighter that he’d been when he first captured the WBA 118lb title in 2014. You can argue that the punishment that McDonnell had taken in his two fights against Tomoki Kameda and his match against Fernando Vargas had contributed to the deterioration. Solis took advantage of the depleted state McDonnell was in to give him a real thrashing in their first fight in 2016. In the rematch, McDonnell lucked out with the contest being stopped in the 3rd round after suffered a cut from a clash of heads.

If McDonnell does decide to fight on after tonight, then it’s imperative that he moves up to 122 at the very least and faces some slow guys that aren’t as fast or as powerful as Inoue. WBC super bantamweight champion Rey Vargas would be a good option for McDonnell to fight if his promoter Eddie Hearn can get him that fight. I would have McDonnell stay clear of WBO 122lb champion Isaac Dogboe, because he’s like Inoue with his quickness and devastating punching power. Dogboe would another nightmare for McDonnell.

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