YOKOHAMA – By posting two consecutive first-round knockout victories, boxer Naoya Inoue has begun to make people think that he might actually be better than he had been advertised.
In late May, he stunned boxing fans by finishing British champion Jamie McDonnell off a little less than two minutes into their WBA bantamweight title match.
And on Sunday night, he had another no-sweat performance, knocking out former champ Juan Carlos Payano with electrifying one-two blows just 1 minute, 10 seconds after the opening bell in their World Boxing Super Series tournament bout at Yokohama Arena.
Although he said he was fortunate to perfectly land the punches that early, Inoue did not do so by luck.
The 25-year-old (17-0, 15 knockouts) said after the fight that he had worked on the combinations, making his finishing right hidden from southpaw Payano, an ex-WBA bantamweight title holder. The 34-year-old Dominican reportedly commented that he could not see it.
“I tried to launch that from inside (of Payano’s stiff right arm), not from outside,” Inoue said of the match-ending punch. “I’d been practicing it a lot and it happened to hit at the very beginning.”
But the way Inoue completely destroyed Payano — again, with just a pair of punches — was something you do not get to see very often in the lighter weight classes.
“Having knocked my opponents out in my last two fights, now I know my punching power and sharpness are effective in the bantamweight class,” he said.
Finishing Payano in 70 seconds, winning his last seven consecutive world-title bouts via KO and collecting a total of 11 knockout victories in his world-title matches are new Japanese records.
Kalle Sauerland, the chief boxing officer for WBSS, gave unsparing praise for Inoue. The German, a successful boxing promoter as well, described Inoue as loaded with bombs in his hands, which he added are sending “shock waves” around the world.
“I’ve seen guys knock people out in five seconds,” Sauerland said. “But you must think that the guy he was facing was Payano. It wasn’t someone (who came) off the streets. It was a former world champion.”
Sauerland compared Inoue’s powerful punches with some of the world’s best boxers like Anthony Joshua, Gennady Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. The Japanese is currently ranked No. 7 on the Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound list and the promoter thinks he has gained fame because of his fists.
“These are great punchers,” Sauerland said of those aforementioned elite boxers. “But this (Inoue) is the best puncher in the world. This is the No. 1 puncher on the planet. Not in Japan, not in Asia, not in America, (but) on the planet.”
Fighting in Japan and Asia, it is sometimes difficult to put yourself on the global boxing map. But now other top bantamweight fighters, especially the ones competing in the WBSS tourney, will not be able to underestimate Inoue, who is dubbed “the Monster.”
Acknowledging that he has finished his fights too quickly before he is able to spot new issues, Inoue said that it would be important for him to keep “working on the basics.”
But ending his “shows” early is no problem for him.
“I am satisfied with these fights. In fact, the faster it ends, the better it is,” said Inoue, who has fought a total of 14 rounds in his last five matches. “You want to wrap up your job as quickly as you can.”
Inoue will face the winner of the IBF champ Emmanuel Rodriguez-Jason Moloney bout in the WBSS semifinals. He is scheduled to fly to to Orlando, where the match is scheduled to take place on Oct. 20.