Sunday sees the excellent World Boxing Super Series hit two new weight classes, and a new continent, as Yokohama in Japan hosts a quarter final match in both the Bantamweight and Super Lightweight tournaments. Here I preview the Bantamweight contest, that features a pound for pound player in a first defence of his newly won crown at a third weight.
Naoya Inoue (16-0, KO 14) v Juan Carlos Payano (20-1, KO9) – 12 Rounds, World Boxing Super Series Bantamweight Quarter Final and WBA Bantamweight Title
Japanese buzzsaw Naoya Inoue continues his rise as he gains new exposure in the latest edition of the World Boxing Super Series. Inoue is the top seed in a mouth-watering tournament that also features WBA (Super) Champion Ryan Burnett, who faces Filipino legend, Nonito Donaire in November, as well as the hard hitting WBO Champion, Zolani Tete, and IBF Champion Emmanuel Rodriguez, who comprehensively beat Paul Butler on UK shores this year to acquire the belt.
Dominican Payano is a decent test for Inoue first up, and the former WBA (Super) Bantamweight Champion is more than capable of upsetting the applecart in the Far East.
Inoue is already a three weight World Champion, capturing Titles at Light Flyweight, Super Flyweight, and in his most recent outing in May, he became the WBA Bantamweight Champion. His opponent, and the Champion, Doncaster’s Jamie McDonnell was expected to give “The Monster” a stern test of his credentials in Ota-City, as a usually durable opponent, but he was starched in under two minutes, following a dazzling assault of punches, after a quiet opening minute or so of the round. He also holds an impressive win against Omar Narvaez (KO2) in 2014 when stepping up two weight divisions to rip the WBO Super Flyweight Title from the Argentine, as well as emphatic wins over decent opposition in David Carmona, (unanimous), Antonio Nieves (RTD6) and Yoann Boyeaux (TKO3).
He will start as a heavy favourite this weekend, and rightly so. He has a growing fearsome reputation, and in Payano, a man with a less than 50% knockout record, he should be able to get off to a flying start in the competition.
Payano had a stellar 2014/15, after building a 15-0 record against low level opposition. He outscored Anselmo Moreno via a technical decision after six rounds to win the WBA (Super) Bantamweight Title. He defended this, and gained the vacant IBO belt in a career best win against unbeaten former USA Amateur star, Rau’Shee Warren in August 2015 via split decision in a contest where Payano lost a point in the third, and was knocked down in the twelfth. Warren himself lost two points in the ninth session. A rematch was a natural, and this time Warren inflicted Payano’s first career loss via majority decision. He is three unbeaten since. His last fight saw him come off the canvas again, but rallied to comfortably outscore the previously unbeaten Mike Plania over ten rounds.
Inoue is red hot at the minute, and I can see him putting on a show in front of his home fans. Payano is game and has only been defeated (narrowly) once, so I expect him to hear the final bell. I can see Payano being dropped early from the blinding hand speed of Inoue, but I see the Dominican seeing out the fight to lose a wide points decision.