Thursday, March 22, 2018  |


Naoya Inoue dominates Antonio Nieves to stoppage after six rounds


CARSON, California – Here’s what we learned about Nayoa Inoue during the Japanese phenom’s anticipated U.S. debut in the main support to the Srisaket Sor Rungvisai-Roman Gonzalez rematch on Saturday:

He’s a good athlete with solid balance and sharp reflexes.

He’s a fast, accurate puncher – especially with his piston-like jab – and he knows how to control the pace of a fight.

He’s got very good power, but he’s not a one-punch-KO hitter.

He’s an excellent body puncher, definitely one of the best in boxing.

These attributes combined to dominate Antonio Nieves to the degree that the 30-year-old Ohioan’s corner stopped the fight after six one-sided rounds.

Inoue (14-0, 12 knockouts), a 24-year-old Yokohama resident who has already won world titles in two weight classes, retained his WBO 115-pound belt for the sixth time and successfully introduced himself to an American audience.

THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior bantamweight was impressive, but not as spectacular as his legion of hardcore boxing fans have made him out to be in recent years. Nieves (17-2-2, 9 KOs), a former U.S. amateur standout from Cleveland, is a solid-but-unspectacular fringe contender. Many expected “The Monster” to blow him out early, but in lasting six rounds, Nieves, who was game but also in survival mode for long stretches of each round, showed the boxing world some of the areas where Inoue could improve:

He does a decent job of slipping punches but he often advances without a high guard or upper-body movement, making him susceptible to jabs.

He likes to stalk his opponents, but he could do a better job of cutting the ring off.

Inoue commits to the body. Photo / @HBOBoxing

And, while he can punch and he certainly commits to the body, he often throws one shot at a time, neglecting combination punching.

Still, he was too much for Nieves, who was dropped with a wicked left to the body in Round 5, and will likely be too much for all but the very best of the 115-pound division (all of whom happened to be in action on the same card). Inoue was content with how he handled Nieves, who had never been stopped.

“I’m very happy with my performance,” he said. “(Nieves) was a brave warrior, but I was too strong for him.”

American fight fans that saw Inoue for the first time on HBO liked what they saw, if social media is any indication, and “The Monster” says he’s eager to return to the U.S. and network for major fights.

“I’m very happy to fight here in the United States and on HBO,” Inoue said. “I’d love to come back and fight here again soon. I don’t care who I fight next — any of the other champions, as soon as possible.”

That’s great news for hardcore fans, and maybe bad news for junior bantamweights, as Nieves can attest to:

“He’s very quick, very strong,” said Nieves. “He is relentless.”

  • ceylon mooney

    yeah, i expected more. was it the third round where at the 10 sec mark he started jogging to his corner? whatever round that was nieves was goin down.

    • Charlie U.

      That left hook is pretty scary but it seems like he’s more of an efficient fighter than a real “monster”. I was hoping to see Godzilla in there.

      • ceylon mooney

        i cant see how he could KO narvaez like that and not nieves. i do think he missed an early round knock down

        • Giovanni Hordijk

          Narvaez was caught cold by Inoue. Nieves alot younger and fitter then Narvaez. Inoue just had to ease into it more and don’t forget that fight was 3 years ago. Inoue has matured a bit while still punching with authority and being relentless. In round 3 Inoue mistakenly jogged to his corner when he heard the 10 second mark before the bell, as far as i saw Nieves was going to lose the fight but wasn’t in stoppage trouble yet.

      • Shingo912

        One of the reasons is his body frame is no longer a super fly weight. He has to be more careful about his engine considering the fight would be 12 rounds. Ohashi is alwalys saying Inoue would be much better than now if he shifts to heavier classes.

  • joe blanco

    People forget that Antonio Nieves moved down in weight and he usually fought at bantam or jr feather so to expect Inoue to take him out in 1st rd with one punch is a bit wishful thinking. Nieves is a big guy for superfly weight and he has fought bigger guys than Inoue.

    • Exactly. Bigger man and when he realized he was going to lose he basically ran. it is not easy to get a guy out of there who is running for his life.

  • Royal Flashy

    Inoue looks too strong for the rest of the division for me. Only 24 as well.

  • Mike M.

    Next up, Inou vs a Thai girl boy


      wrong site bruh

      • Mike M.


  • Douglas Cohen

    Seems like the real deal, and between his body type and his power he could easily move up in weight again. Given the big match-ups that can be made for him at superfly on HBO, I expect him to remain at this weight for another year or two while he collects belts and scalps and builds up his name. Considering this was only his fourteenth professional fight, I don’t think he’s reached his ceiling as a fighter yet. He has the potential to be something special if he continues to improve. Looking forward to seeing him fight again.

    HBO was also desperate for some exciting young blood to add to their boxing stable, and Inoue may be just the ticket. With Chocolatito’s time as a major player seemingly over, they need a fresh face more than ever. Would love to see this guy matched up against the likes of Rungvisai and Estrada, and if he gets past both them Cuadras as well …no Chocolatito though. I love that little dude’s heart, but if you put him in there with Inoue at this stage of his career he’ll just get hurt. If he wants to fight again to go out with win instead of on his back, ok. But after that I think Chocolatito should retire. He’s made his money, he’s a surefire Hall of Famer, and a national hero back home. He has nothing left to prove and should get out while he still has his health.