The Drama in Saitama

Inoue explodes a right on Donaire. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Saitama, Japan – 7 Nov 2019

In a sensational fight Japan’s Naoya Inoue sealed a 116-111, 117-109, 114-113 unanimous decision against Filipino multi-weight champion Nonito Donaire to secure the World Boxing Super Series title at Bantamweight and with it the Muhammad Ali Trophy.

In a bout that will no doubt be a clear contender for fight of the year the Japanese star also added Donaire’s WBA world title to his own IBF version.

It was an epic contest with Inoue 19-0-0 (16 KO’s) cut early over the right eye and power punches rocking both fighters throughout. The taller Donaire 40-6-0 (26 KO’s) boxed in an upright stance with a strong jab trying to walk his man down with powerful attacks. Inoue boxed well, but was more open and wreckless, loading up to the head and landing his wide powershots, retaining a high guard to protect his right eye from further damage.

The explosiveness of punches bounced off both fighters throughout the contest as they left themselves open to attacks to seal victory. Inoue ‘snaking in’ with jabs and follow up powershots and the ‘Filipino Flash’ marching forward. The 9th round was action packed with Donaire going to work on the Japanese and visibly shaking him with a big right hand cross mid-round. Inoue however showed his chin matches his ‘Monster’ powerpunching reputation, as he held momentarily and came through the round.

The pivotal round was the 11th. Inoue caught Donaire with a perfectly placed left hook to the body mid-round forcing his opponent to touchdown. The only knockdown of the fight.

How Donaire dragged himself up on the count of nine and got through the remaining half of the round was miraculous, drawing on his vast championship experience and true grit.

This would be only the third time Inoue had failed to secure victory by KO.

Both fighters showed their mutual respect in the build up, at several stages during the fight, and embraced exhausted at the final bell. Later, promoter and WBSS supremo Kalle Sauerland rightly dubbed the fight the ‘Drama in Saitama’.

Although Inoue took all the straps and Ali Trophy, which almost dwarfed him post-fight, Donaire in defeat will for sure be a first ballot entry to the International Boxing Hall of Fame if he now decides to retire.

The Japanese star and Ring Magazine pound for pound #4 will now target France’s WBC champion Nordine Oubaarli who defeated Naoya’s younger brother on the undercard. The older sibling, despite showing defensive flaws for the first time, will start as a big favourite.

Great matches at 118lbs and beyond await for ‘The Monster’ and further spectacular nights are in store for his increasing worldwide fanbase. On this evidence it’s impossible not to be excited by this new explosive star in the lower weight classes.

The Monster v The Flash

Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire matchup
(photo courtesy of WBSS)

With the Rugby World Cup now over, the excellent World Boxing Super Series blows into Saitama, Japan tomorrow (12:10 GMT) when Japanese knockout sensation Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue 18-0-0 (16 KO’s) takes on veteran multi-weight champion Nonito ‘The Filipino Flash’ Donaire 40-5-0 (26 KO’s) in the Bantamweight (118lbs/8st 6lbs) final.

The Asian boxing world will be captivated by this elite match-up, which the respective records would suggest, promises to be an explosive affair. Inoue enters the fray as The Ring magazine’s Bantamweight champion and ‘pound for pound’ #4 in the world. High praise indeed. Donaire, close to the twilight of his career has won ‘world’ titles from flyweight to super-bantamweight and has invaluable experience and ring smarts.

But, Inoue has proven so far to be something special. No more than in his semi-final victory in Glasgow, Scotland when he destroyed previously undefeated Emmanuel Rodriguez in less than five minutes.

In a fight that is broadcast live on Sky Sports Action look for Inoue to stop his opponent in rounds 7-10 sending Donaire into retirement, handsomely paid, and a place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame guaranteed. For Inoue, his legacy will only just be beginning and major fights await through the divisions.

The Monday LunchBox

The weekend round-up to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care for ex-boxers who suffer from their craft and/or have fallen on hard times.

Krusher Crushed !

Las Vegas, Nevada (2nd Nov)

A spectacular 11th round two punch combo from Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez 53-1-2 (36 KO’s) was enough to secure the WBO Light Heavyweight title from Russian champ Sergey Kovalev 34-4-1 (29 KO’s). It also made him a four weight ‘world’ champion from Light-middleweight (11st) to Light heavyweight (12st 7lbs). He currently holds titles at Middleweight and Super-middleweight, through to his latest coronation.

There was much play of him equalling Henry Armstrong’s record of holding world titles at three weights simultaneously, but this is speculative hyperbole given the splintering of current world title belts.

The official cards at the time of the 2:15 min stoppage read 96-94, 96-94 to Canelo and 95-95 even. However, that didn’t tell the story of the fight with Kovalev providing the superior boxing skills and workrate throughout. His excellent jab with strong power punches behind gave Kovalev on your editor’s card a clear five round lead.

As the fight moved into the championship rounds it was looking increasingly likely an upset was in store, although the cards would amazingly suggest otherwise. A real case of the marquee and hometown fighter receiving generous advantage. Canelo although landing power punches, just couldn’t keep up with Kovalev’s workrate, and was looking increasingly desperate until BOOM ! A left hook pushed the Russian to the ropes and Canelo followed up with a big right hand cross, scrambling Kovalev’s senses and leaving him slumped for the referee to stop the fight immediately. The suddenness of the finish was both devastating and impressive. Credit to Canelo for turning the fight around.

The event was marred by inexplicable delays of up to an hour for the fighter’s entrances whilst a UFC fight was concluding (also broadcast by DAZN) and then a drawn out anthems period.

Kovalev in the post fight interview referred to a stamina problem in the later rounds “A little bit I didn’t recover from the last fight” and Canelo payed particular reference to El Dia de Muertos (the day of the dead), coinciding with fight night. “I want to honour the dead – the day of the dead in Mexico”.

When asked about a third Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin fight, he was consistent with his view that it no longer presented a challenge to him, then adding “If it represents business, then why not ?”. On this evidence it would appear the probability is back on and certainly on GGG and Canelo’s recent outings, you would favour the Mexican, but moving back down from 175 to 160lbs may significantly even the odds.

Manchester, England (2nd Nov)

Queen Katie

Ireland’s London 2012 Olympic Champion Katie Taylor 15-0 (6 KO’s) succeeded in winning her second professional world title by convincingly outpointing WBO super-lightweight champion Christina Linardatou 12-2 (6 KO’s). Taylor entered the contest as the undisputed Lightweight champion, and her first fight at the higher weight category was nothing short of brilliant. Despite a nasty early swelling over her right eye Taylor’s superior boxing skills and ring generalship were too much for her Dominican-Greek based opponent. Final scores read 96-94, 97-93 and 97-93 to Taylor.

Katie stands as an icon in her country, and in our sport should now rightly be recognised as a future Hall of Famer. Her charisma, fanbase, boxing ability and accomplishments to date should now receive full acclaim. In the post fight interview, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn made considerable reference to this and that is only rightly deserved. Look for Taylor to seek further challenges within and outside the lightweights.

Anthony Crolla wins and confirms retirement

Former WBO Lightweight Champion Anthony ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla 35-7-3 (13 KO’s)rounded off a successful and popular career by gaining the decision in his final fight. It was arguable whether the 98-92, 97-93 and 95-95 majority decision in Crolla’s favour was fully deserved, and his opponent Frank Urquiaga 13-2-1 (1 KO) left the ring immediately on the cards being announced, but no one could deny Crolla his final moment in the ring.

Adored by his hometown fans; following the fight Crolla admitted he’d done the best he could, thought he’d done enough and that it was great to go out with a win. Happy retirement Anthony.

The Friday Faceup

Welcome to a new weekly feature that looks at the big stories of the fight weekend ahead.

The Cinnamon Kid v The Krusher

This Saturday (2nd Nov) in Las Vegas sees Mexico’s latest boxing megastar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez 52-1-2 (35 KO’s) challenge Russia’s Sergey Kovalev 34-3-1 (29 KO’s) for his WBO Light Heavyweight (12st 7lb) title.

Nicknamed ‘Canelo’ for his cinnamon coloured hair, Alvarez is the biggest draw in boxing at the present time; able to earn millions of dollars per fight, pack out arenas and sell shedloads of pay per view (box office) across the US, Mexico and worldwide. Kovalev on the other hand is a ‘blue collar’ elite fighter from the Russian outpost of Chelyabinsk.

Both fighters, although from very different parts of the world, have come up the hard way. One from the barrios of Guadalajara, competing and fighting in the Mexican style, the other from the harsh eastern bloc showing the archetypal technical skills and competitive excellence.

Kovalev has been defeated in world title fights on three occasions (twice to Andre Ward), and Canelo (the current Ring magazine Middleweight champion) experienced just one defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jnr, although arguably also to Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin in their first fight.

What can we expect ? Canelo is attempting something few fighters have achieved, to capture a title two divisions up from his more natural 11st 6lb weight. Look to see him utilising his speed and mobility, but also mixing it on the inside. Kovalev will either go looking for Canelo from the opening bell, or more likely adopt a cautious approach in the opening rounds, using his superior weight and power deeper into the fight. Age may also be a key factor, Canelo at 29 and Kovalev 36, but this should only be down the stretch in the championship rounds (10-12).

Look for the Mexican to win a competitive fight on a unanimous decision.

Crolla’s curtain call

In Manchester, England the hometown hero and former WBA lightweight champion Anthony ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla 34-7-3 (13 KO’s) will bring an end to his highly successful career against Peruvian-Spaniard Frank Urquiaga 13-1-1 (1).

The extremely likeable Crolla has fought the best in Jorge Linares and Vasiliy Lomachenko and providing his emotion is contained should prove too much for his opponent.

On the same Matchroom Boxing promotion, broadcast live on Sky Sports and DAZN, female world champion and Irish legend Katie Taylor will attempt to capture a world title at a second weight. She challenges Christina Linardatou at 140lb for the WBO super-lightweight title in what should be an excellent match.

The Monday LunchBox

Welcome to a weekly feature to enjoy with your lunch but also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care for ex-boxers who suffer from their craft and/or have fallen on hard times.
The ecstasy of victory and humility in defeat

Prograis v Taylor – Five things we learned

  1. The fight was a modern classic – despite no knockdowns and neither fighter in serious trouble, the sheer intensity of exchanges, technical excellence and fight’s ‘ebb and flow’ made this one of the finest in a British ring for many a year.
  2. Josh Taylor is the real deal – if we didn’t know already, him entering the ring with the IBF super lightweight title, we do now. He showed emphatically his boxing ability, desire to dish it out, and more, his ‘cojones’ and resilience to come through difficult moments in a fight, and prevail. He is arguably in poll position to become Scotland’s finest fighter of all time.
  3. Regis Prograis is a class act – the New Orlean arrived in London three weeks before fight night, fulfilled all media commitments, charmed all who he came into contact with (Taylor aside !) and on fight night delivered a brilliant performance that just fell short. What followed the decision further raised his stock by the humility shown.
  4. The WBSS and Matchroom continue to deliver – The second edition of the World Boxing Super Series continues to deliver an engrossing elimination tournament and great fights. Most notably one recognised champion. The Brits have done well, snaring two Muhammad Ali Trophies, and launching stars Callum Smith and Josh Taylor. Add in Alexsandr Usyk and you’ve got what Kalle Sauerland called “The caviar of boxing”. Matchroom Boxing’s co-promotion of this on Saturday night was nothing short of exceptional.
  5. The 117-112 scorecard was a shocker – Where that came from was beyond most observers. This was such a close fight and could arguably have gone either way. That the Prograis camp did not contest this is a reflection on their professionalism and class.

Derek Chisora continues to deliver

The Finchley man got the business done in a 4th round stoppage of David Price and continues to further enhance the domestic heavyweight picture, whilst knocking on the door of World titles. The cancelled fight with New Zealand’s Joseph Parker is a natural next challenge. Win that, and a world title shot awaits.

Lee Selby is back

The Barry stylist is back at lightweight and comfortable. His decision win over Ricky Burns showcased his repertoire of skills and that having captured a world title at featherweight he is comfortable fighting two divisions up. Look for him to feature on upcoming Matchroom cards and be manoeuvred into a mandatory world title position.

Visit Ringside Rest and Care for more information https://ringsiderestandcare.com/

Taylor takes it all

London, 26 October 2019

Scotland’s Josh Taylor won a hotly contested fight on majority decision to capture the World Boxing Super Series super-lightweight title at a packed O2 Arena tonight. By defeating New Orleans Regis Prograis he retained his IBF title, captured the WBA title and snagged the Ring Magazine championship at ten stone (140lbs).

In a competitive fight throughout, both fighters had their moments but no knockdowns resulted. The judges returned scores of 114-114, 115-113 and 117-112. The latter card being slightly wide of your editors 114-113 (Taylor).

Both fighters complimented each other on their performance in post fight interviews, with Prograis declaring “The best man won”. Taylor was equally magnanimous in victory. The fight and after event was a credit to both boxers.

Prograis loses his WBA title and undefeated record but gained so many more fans in defeat. Taylor moves on to other challenges, possibly a WBC unification, but many will pay to see the rematch.

Further updates to follow.

Fight on !

25 October 2019 13:40 BST

We have a fight. Both boxers weighed in successfully for the much anticipated World Boxing Super Series super lightweight final tomorrow evening at London’s O2 Arena.

New Orleans WBA Champion Regis Prograis had an initial scare weighing a pound over the 10 stone (140lbs) limit, but after shedding his underwear checked in at 9st 13lbs 15oz. Scotland’s IBF Champion Josh Taylor made the limit at first attempt (9st 13lb 13oz).

Following the weigh-in the verbal exchanges continued with Prograis saying “It’s gonna be a bloody night for sure…someone’s gonna get stopped” motioning in Taylor’s direction. The Scot took the dais and responded “I made it okay, he looks like he’s on his feet dead”. Following up with “He’s gonna go back to America with his tail between his legs !”

Tune in on Sky Sports Box Office or DAZN for what promises to be a mouthwatering fight between two undefeated fighters at the peak of their powers.

As Michael Buffer said “Someone’s O’s gotta go” !

Lift off !

24 October 2019 12:45 BST

The gloves are really off. In a prickly final press conference in London this lunchtime the animosity between the two main eventers – Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor continues into the last two days. Although respect of what each fighter brings to the table was acknowledged, Josh Taylor in particular showed no let up from his verbal condemnation of his American opponent.

First up though was Prograis, covered by dark sunglasses, continuing to suggest that Taylor had fought no one like him and that he’d been shaken before against previous opponent Ivan Baranchyk, and asking what was he going be like against him. Emphasising his comfort in England after spending close to three weeks here he insisted “He can’t beat me…when I hit you and I hurt you that’s it”.

Taylor in response was unrelenting in his contempt for his opponent, saying he never thought he was going to shut up and asking why he was hiding behind his sunglasses. Exuding supreme confidence, sprinkled with a few expletives, he insisted he was going to “rip the belts off him” and “knock him out cold”.

If the pre-fight boasts and hostilities are lived up to, and given the undoubted pedigree of both fighters, this promises to be a contender for fight of the year. Catch it Saturday at the O2 Arena or live on Sky Sports box office or DAZN in the USA.

The brawl for it all

21 October 2019

Fight week is here ! Six days to go until the Super-Lightweight collision between New Orlean’s Regis Prograis 24-0-0 (20 KO’s) and Edinburgh’s Josh Taylor 15-0-0 (12 KO’s) at London’s O2 Arena in the World Boxing Super Series final.

Both ten stone (140lb) fighters are primed, supremely confident and up for grabs are all the ‘straps’. The coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy climaxing the finale of the Super Series, their IBF, WBA & WBC Diamond titles, and also prestigious The Ring magazine championship.

The full card will be broadcast in the UK on Sky Box Office and available in the US and worldwide on DAZN streaming site. Use links to visit The Championship Rounds Preview section on this website for an earlier preview and watch for further updates here throughout fight week.

Patrick Day RIP

The Undisputed sends its condolences and heartfelt thoughts to the family, friends and team of Patrick Day, American junior middleweight, who has tragically died following injuries sustained in his fight in Chicago on Saturday 12th October. The news was sadly confirmed on Wednesday by promoter DiBella Entertainment.

Over the last few days many messages of support and kind thoughts have been posted on social media and other platforms. What has continually come through is first and foremost what a wonderful human being Patrick was, as well as being a talented boxer.

Patrick chose to box and made boxing his living. At moments like this we question our association with this sport. What we must always acknowledge are the inherent dangers of this sport, the bravery of the fighters involved and, continually strive to make it even safer for Patrick’s fellow athletes.

The Undisputed thanks Patrick for his 27 years on Earth and for blessing us with his skills and performances in his tragically short life. Rest in peace our friend.

A greater appreciation of Patrick’s life is available at https://www.ringtv.com/