By Ian S Palmer
Japan’s undefeated Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue will be defending his WBO Junior Bantamweight Title for the seventh time this Saturday, January 30th over in Yokohama when he takes on Yoan Boyeaux of France. Inoue became a world champion in his sixth pro fight when he beat Adrian Hernandez by sixth-round stoppage for the WBC Light Flyweight Title in May, 2014. He defended it once then moved up to super flyweight and took the title from Omar Narvaez by second-round KO in December, 2014. Inoue last fought in September when he stopped Antonio Nieves after six rounds. Boyeaux’s last outing was in April when he stopped Mishiko Shubitidze in two rounds.
The 24-year-old Inoue has been a bot of a sensation since turning pro back in 2012. He’s a hard hitter with good boxing skills and now stands at 14-0 along with 12 big Kos. He’s boxed 88 rounds as a pro and has a very impressive knockout ratio of 86 per cent. The champion stands just over 5-feet-4-inches tall and has a reach of 67.5 inches. He’s also beaten the likes of Ryoichi Taguchi, Kohei Kono, David Carmona and Ricardo Rodriguez.
Inoue enjoyed a fine amateur career and since turning pro he’s gone 9-0 with 8 Kos in world title fights. He’s also gone 4-0 with 3 Kos against current or former world champions in Taguchi, Hernandez, Narvaez and Kono. This will be a voluntary defence against Boyeaux as the champion is aiming to stay active. Boyeaux will enter the fight as the seventh-ranked junior bantamweight in the world by the WBO. Inoue may decide to move up to the bantamweight division in the near future though.
The 29-year-old Boyeaux will climb into the ring with an impressive mark of 41-4 along with 26 Kos. It’ll be interesting to see how his chin holds out against the power-punching champion as Boyeaux has never been stopped in his career. His four losses have been to Carl Frampton by four-round unanimous decision in 2010, to Josh Wale on points in a six-round bout in 2010, a 10-round split decision to Jerome Thomas in 2011 and a 10-round unanimous decision to Anthony Settoul in 2012.
Boyeaux is currently on a 31-fight winning streak dating back to January, 2012. However, he failed a drug test in January, 2013 and was stripped of the French Bantamweight Title. He hasn’t always faced the toughest opponents possible, but has beaten the likes of Walter Rojas and Nikoloz Kokashvili. Boyeaux has fought 203 rounds since turning pro in 2009 and has a decent knockout ratio of 57 per cent. Unfortunately, both his height and reach are unlisted, but he does have an advantage over Inoue in both departments.
Inoue is a solid, young champion who will have to face some of his division’s elite opponents in the future. Boyeaux has plenty of fight experience, but most of his opponents have been of the Grade B and C variety and that won’t help him out on Saturday night. I’m expecting Inoue to retain his title against Boyeaux and he may also become the first man to knock him out as a pro.