By Joe Koizumi
Photo: Boxing Beat
Should you defeat a Filipino national champ and a Thai titlist in succession in your first two pro bouts, you may be called a prospect. Nineteen-year-old Japanese rookie, OPBF#9 and JBC#6 light-fly Naoya Inoue (2-0, 2 KOs), 110, needed just 110 seconds of the opening session to dispatch Thai national light-fly champ Ngaoprajan Chuwattana (10-11, 9 KOs), 109.75, in a scheduled eight rounder on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan.
Inoue, seven-time national high school champ prior to his entry into the paid ranks, started jabbing sharply, while the 35-year-old Thailander attempted to swarm over the cool youngster. The much shorter Thailander again attacked with a flurry of punches, a single left hook of Inoue exploded at the button of the aggressor. He fell on all hands and knees. He tried to raise himself up and barely stood up. But his rubbery legs apparently denied his availability to go on, so referee Sugiyama mercilessly tolled the fatal ten. As soon as it began, we felt, it was over.
You may laugh if this reporter describes Inoue’s final shot similar to a countering left hook as Sugar Ray Robinson knocked out Gene Fullmer in Chicago in 1957. But it was really like that. It’s such a beautiful left hook as if we wonder why such a youngster masters or imitates the classic KO shot. Inoue is a hard-puncher with natural timing and high precision.
This observer is rather skeptical about Japanese press people’s ballyhooed evaluation of Inoue as a monster or a genius. No one knows this boy’s future or his future culmination, but all of us have at least realized that this kid is vastly talented. At the gym handled by his manager/promoter and ex-WBA/WBC 105-pound champ Hideyuki Ohashi, Inoue beat up ex-world champs Akira Yaegashi and Nobuo Nashiro before many press people. Of course, we know that’s just sparring sessions, but Ohashi calls him a monster, predicting that he will defeat two-time world champ and unbeaten Kazuto Ioka, still 23, in the future. It must be a Dream Fight here in Japan, though it may take some years to materialize.
In a supporting ten, ex-WBA 105-pound champ Akira Yaegashi (16-3, 9 KOs), 110, appeared for the first time since his hard-fought decision loss to compatriot Kazuto Ioka in a WBC/WBA unification bout last June, and finally sank ex-WBC international ruler Saenmuangloei Kokietgym (14-5-3, 3 KOs), 110.25, with a vicious left hook to the belly at 2:52 of the ninth round.
Before the trick happened, it had been a monotonous affair with Yaegashi outlegging and outpunching the slower and sluggish Thailander. Yaegashi, busy-moving and lazy-punching, diligently piled up a point after a point in every round. But his last coup-de-grace was beautifully effective to drop him in agony for the count. The ex-champ says, “Within this year I wish to regain a world belt in any class.” He may fight on in 105, 108 or 112-pound divisions.
In a supporting eight, another bright prospect of Ohashi Gym, unbeaten Ryo Matsumoto (5-0, 5 KOs), 116.75, decked Thailander Jomrachan Tor. Rangoo (7-3-2, 2 KOs), 117, three times en route to an automatic knockout at 2:29 of the first round. Matsumoto, four-time high school champ, is a Carlos Zarate-like bantamweight with good height and good power-punching.
This reporter at first attempted to write on the sensational Japanese rookie’s 110-second demolition with 1,100 words, saying “Ten words a second” a la “Ten thousand words a minute” by Norman Mailer, but has overwritten some 3,000 words. Sorry for becoming as eloquent as Mailer.
Promoter: Ohashi Promotions.