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Naoya Inoue takes down Omar Narvaez with second-round KO


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Get out your erasers, there’s a new frontrunner for Fighter of the Year.

Weeks after Terence Crawford was named 2014’s top performer in boxing by many pundits, Naoya Inoue made an historic statement, stopping longtime WBO junior bantamweight titleholder Omar Narvaez in two rounds on Tuesday, Dec. 30, at Metropolitan Gym in Tokyo to win his second world title in as many divisions this year.

The 21-year-old Inoue (8-0, 7 knockouts) of Yokohama, Japan, did so in dominant fashion.

The 13th title defense proved to be unlucky for the 39-year-old Narvaez as he was dropped twice in the first round and twice more in the second before remaining on his stool. The loss was the Argentine’s second of his pro career – his only other loss was a decision to Nonito Donaire Jr. at 118 pounds in 2011 – and most likely will mark the end of the 1996 Olympian’s run as a top fighter in the sport.

Inoue has now won three fights in 2014, kicking off the year with a sixth-round technical knockout of Adrian Hernandez to win the WBC junior flyweight title, followed by an 11th-round win over Samartlek Kokietgym in September.

While the crowd rejoiced from Inoue’s big win, another Yokohama resident suffered a heartbreak loss as Akira Yaegashi was knocked out by Pedro Guevara at 2:45 of the seventh round for the vacant WBC junior flyweight title. Yaegashi, who lost his RING flyweight championship to Roman Gonzalez in September, never got going against the younger Guevara.

Earlier in the night, Jorge Linares won his third title with a fourth-round knockout of Javier Prieto to win the WBC lightweight title vacated by Omar Figueroa earlier this year. Linares, who was stopped by Antonio DeMarco in 2011 the last time he vied for that title, finished Prieto off at the 1:50 mark of the fourth with a right hand to the top of the head.

Junior bantamweight Ryo Matsumoto registered the biggest win of his young career, stopping Rusalee Samor in the 12th round to win the vacant OPBF junior bantamweight title. The 20-year-old Matsumoto coasted through much of the bout, maintaining control with his superior technical ability before overwhelming Samor 43 seconds into the final round to score the knockout.

In the show’s first bout, Inoue’s younger brother Takuma won a unanimous decision over Nestor Narvaes. Inoue earned all eight rounds on the judges’ scorecards: 80-72, 80-72 and 80-73.

The 19-year-old Inoue has fought four times since turning pro in December of 2013, with all four bouts being scheduled 8-rounders. Narvaes entered the bout just two fights removed from losing a majority decision to then-WBC flyweight champ Toshiyuki Igarashi in 2012.