Friday, September 22, 2023  |



Naoya Inoue and Ken Shiro score knockouts in Japanese world title action

Naoya Inoue. Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Fighters Network

It was as competitive as a rattlesnake against a mouse.

Unbeaten Japanese power-puncher Naoya Inoue easily defended his WBO junior bantamweight title with a third-round annihilation of Yoann Boyeaux at the Bunka Gym Arena in Yokohama, Japan, on Saturday. The official time was 1:40.

Inoue, who is currently rated No. 1 by THE RING at 115 pounds, floored the overmatched Frenchman with a powerful left hook in the closing seconds of Round 1 and the writing was on the wall.

Boyeaux (41-5, 26 knockouts) ran for his life, but Inoue stepped across him effortlessly and found the target on almost everything he threw. Huge single shots crashed off the challenger’s skull and Inoue displayed terrific handspeed when he put his punches together.

In the third, a trio of knockdowns, all courtesy of brutal left hooks to the mid-section, forced referee Raul Caiz Jr. to save Boyeaux from further damage. This was Inoue’s seventh successful defense of the title he took from Omar Narvaez three years ago. It was also the first stoppage defeat of Boyeaux’s 46-fight professional career.

Sadly, this is likely to be Inoue’s final excursion into junior bantamweight territory. The good news, however, is that “Monster” will have ample competition at 118 pounds against the likes of Shinsuke Yamanaka, Zolani Tete, Ryan Burnett and Luis Nery.

Inoue (15-0, 13 KOs) weighed in officially at 115 pounds and Boyeaux was 113.75.


In other world championship action, Ken Shiro impressively defended his WBC junior flyweight title for the second time with a fourth-round stoppage of Gilberto Pedroza.

After three evenly matched sessions, Shiro, who is rated No. 3 by THE RING at 108 pounds, threaded home a big right hand in the fourth. The punch forced Pedroza to the ropes and a left hook to the body followed by a brace of right hands sent the Panamanian to the canvas.

There was a long time left in the round and, almost immediately, two solid body shots sent Pedroza crashing down for a second time. Referee Laurence Cole wisely ended the fight at 1:12 of the fourth.

Shiro (12-0, 6 KOs) weighed in at 107.75 pounds with Pedroza a touch lighter at 107.25.

Tom Gray is Associate Editor for THE RING. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing


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