Naoya Inoue once again lived up to his “Monster” nickname, demolishing Emmanuel Rodriguez to win the IBF bantamweight title and advance to the World Boxing Super Series tournament final to face Nonito Donaire later this year.
Inoue also retained the WBA “world” bantamweight title. Donaire holds the WBA “super world” title, which is better because it has “super” in the name.
Inoue (18-0, 16 KO) and Rodriguez (19-1, 12 KO) both came out firing in the opening round, and it was a good, competitive round, with Inoue probably getting the better of it, but Rodriguez certainly there to fight.
But in the second, Inoue dropped Rodriguez on a left hook to the chin, then again on brutal body shots, at which point it looked like Rodriguez really wanted no more. But Rodriguez got up again, only to get dropped a third time. The referee gave him another count, then called it off at 1:19 of the second round.
It was another viciously impressive performance from the 26-year-old Japanese star, who continues to make a case not only as the world’s top bantamweight, but as maybe the best pound-for-pound fighter in boxing today.
“I came out looking to perform aggressively,” Inoue said through a translator. “He came out in the first round and gave me a lot of pressure. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out in the first round.”
Inoue had many supporters come with him from Japan to Glasgow for the fight, but he also won over the locals.
“This is a ring where I felt very much at home,” Inoue said. “Everybody here made me feel at home, and I appreciate Glasgow.”
Inoue was joined in the ring by Donaire after the fight, as well, and the two praised one another.
“Nonito has a great career record and is a great fighter. I respect him a lot. I don’t know how I’m going to fight him yet, but I’ll go back to the drawing board and figure it out,” he said.
“Just incredible. He did what he needed to do,” Donaire said. “This is what we’ve been waiting for. We’ve always felt that we were going to meet each other. It was destiny for us. Now it’s happening.”