Naoya Inoue greatness, Canelo, Yoshiki Takei and more: Weekend recap

Naoya Inoue greatness, Canelo, Yoshiki Takei and more: Weekend recap

It was as if Luis Nery’s first-round knockdown of Naoya Inoue poked the Monster.

Inoue touched the canvas for the first time as a professional on Monday evening in Tokyo, but if anything, that set-back allowed the four-weight world champion to springboard into another career-defining performance — and possibly, his scariest yet.

There was to be no seismic shock inside the fabled Tokyo Dome — the first time that the 55,000 capacity venue has hosted a fight since James “Buster” Douglas shocked Mike Tyson 34 years ago — but simply a reminder, if it was necessary, that Inoue is as close to a generational fighter as we have seen over the last few years.

At 27-0, the 31-year-old is now 22-0 in world title contests dating back to 2014 when he won his first world championship against Adrián Hernández at flyweight. He has blitzed his way through four divisions conquering anyone and everyone, notching up 24 KOs… most being worthy of highlight-reel inclusion.

And he’s far from finished. Inoue added spite and emotion to his performance on Monday, something that you don’t usually associate with the polite, rippled applause of Japanese boxing. But Nery hit a nerve inside Inoue, and the Mexican was made to pay inside a convincing six-rounds.

“Overrated” was a word Nery used to describe Inoue in the build-up to this contest, but it seems increasingly impossible to overrate the achievements of the Japanese wrecking ball. Matching Inoue — at whatever weight — is the conundrum faced by his team as he continues his journey in being the most dominant fighter of this decade.

The chief support in Tokyo saw the coming out party of Yoshiki Takei, grabbing the WBO bantamweight title from a typically game Jason Moloney. Moloney is one of the most dedicated, hard-working and disciplined fighters in this sport, so extra kudos goes to Takei for matching Moloney to the final bell in his first appearance in a 12th round.

Takei was more accurate, spiteful and targeted in his approach in front of a home crowd, and despite an exhausting final round was able to show his cojones on the world stage as he traded with his head in the pocket for the final three minutes. You could argue he was one punch or 100 punches from being stopped during that finale, but the travelling Australian’s power had waned significantly, even if his heart hadn’t.

On the subject of pound-for-pound greats, Canelo gave us a timely reminder that his name isn’t quite ready to be erased from such debates after convincingly outpointing compatriot Jaime Munguia on Saturday night.

The all-Mexican affair was dominated by the face of Mexican boxing, with Oscar De La Hoya’s pre-fight war of words with the 33-year-old only focusing the mind on tallying up a 61st career win. Dominant in his natural 168 lb waters, Alvarez underlined the old adage that class is permanent in sport, and the upset that a few were picking was up in smoke as early as the opening few exchanges.

Munguia showed his guts and proved more than worthy of the opportunity. But as cited in the run-up to the fight, his style was tailor-made to the strengths of Canelo.

David Benavidez is the only real sensible super-fight for Canelo left at this stage, but the Mexican great does what he wants and picks who he wants — all we can do is ask the question.

Oh, Eimantas Stanionis is back! After two years on the subs bench the Lithuanian moved to 15-0 in the pros and gave us hope that the welterweight division has a heartbeat.

Outpointing a former amateur rival — now 37 years old with a 6-1-1 record — isn’t going to secure you too many headlines, but you’d struggle to convincingly argue anyone other than Boots being ahead of him in the 147 race.

Gervonta Davis also made a splash this weekend building his June 15 fight with Frank Martin, and with Vasiliy Lomachenko, Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk and Jai Opetaia all fighting within the next fortnight, boxing is beginning to boom in 2024.

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