THOUGHTS – When this World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) tournament was announced, and they revealed who would be participating in it, the main match-up that excited me right out of the gate was the prospects of Inoue possibly fighting Rodriguez, though of course wasn’t certain whether their paths would cross, or what the seeding would even be. Fortunate enough for me, it happened to line up that way where they will meet in the second round of this tournament. WBA ‘Regular’ Bantamweight Champion 🇯🇵Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue (17-0-0, 15KO) has been terrorizing opponents from day-1, and had been very well prepared ahead of time before turning pro, entering the professional ranks with all of his fundamentals fine-tuned by his Father/Trainer Shingo Inoue, which is very rare for young fighters. Typically they have something that can be expanded with their natural talent, but they have to work on the subtle nuances of their arsenal for it to catch up to their talent, whereas Naoya came up with most of everything he needed already in tact. He started at Light-Flyweight, dominated world class opponent Ryoichi Taguchi in just his 4th fight, and became a World Champion in only his 6th fight against very good Champion Adrian Hernandez. His immense power was never more evident than when he moved up 2 weight divisions to immediately face a Champion who had won 28 World Title fights, and dismantled him with relative ease, that being Omar Narvaez. As he ascended to 118 lbs, his power seemed to grow, and his skills have become more refined, a scary proposition for all competitors. Puerto Rican IBF Bantamweight Champion 🇵🇷Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Rodriguez (19-0-0, 12KO) has always been a very talented fighter, and has put together a quiet, consistent campaign, though the level of his performances were loud. Manny showcased the level he could box at when he defeated respected Paul Butler via dominant decision to take his World Title Belt. Fast forward to now, you probably have the most difficult opponents for each fighter facing each other up to this point in their respective careers.
BREAKDOWN – What makes Naoya Inoue scary? the worst kept secret in boxing, he can punch🥊…in fact, on P4P scaling, I consider him to be 1 of the 2 hardest punchers in all of boxing. What separates Inoue from the rest of the pack through is his discipline, his IQ, and his lead hand dominance, possessing a thudding jab, and effectively hooks off the jab. While always on balance and having his defensive positioning where it always needs to be, he is a master at setting you up to work comfortably in his range, to land his thudding left hook to the body, and chopping down the target. For Manny Rodriguez, I would say his best attribute is his jab, and with him being pretty tall for the Bantamweight division, he does a very good job at staying tall, and using his range to clip you with the patented 1-2 combination. He has a high boxing IQ, and he looks to always exploit what his opponent reveals to him. For Rodriguez sake, there are a couple of things that concern me in this fight. Rodriguez main weakness is that whenever he wings the left hook out there, he tends to bring his hand back at his hip, which also shows when he drops his lead hand mid combination. Inoue has one of the quickest right crosses in boxing, and he is razor accurate with it, plus as powerful as he is, all it takes is one to hit the chin. Rodriguez in a recent interview has stated that his plans coming into the fight is to take the fight right to Inoue and back him up. I appreciate the confidence he has been exuding coming in, but he better be careful doing so, and understand what distance he is best suited at. Also, push comes to shove if he is successful in backing up Inoue, that plays into Naoya’s hands, because one of his best, most overlooked aspects to Inoue is his ability to use his footwork to bounce out and box you from the outside. He doesn’t use it that much because with his power, he doesn’t to, but he has shown that ability on many occasion, so from what I see, Inoue will have an answer for whatever Rodriguez has to roll out, though Rodriguez will give him some pushback with his boxing ability. I see Rodriguez maybe getting a round or two under his belt, but at some point, Inoue may check him with a big right cross, and administer a massive body attack that Rodriguez may not be able to recover from.
🥁|| MY PREDICTION – 🏆🇯🇵Naoya Inoue Wins via 5th Round KO to Become the RING-MAGAZINE Bantamweight World Champion, Advancing on to Face Nonito Donaire in the Tourney Finals for the Muhammad Al Trophy. (KO5)