Aftermath: Inoue vs Rodriguez / Taylor vs Baranchyk
Photos: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Tom Craze, Lee Gormley, Danny Winterbottom, Chris Williamson, Luke G. Williams, Colin Harris, Anthony Cocks and Luke Byron from the BM team give their take on Saturday night's World Boxing Super Series semi-finals...
BM: Inoue - what can we say? What's your assessment of another destructive masterclass?
TC: Exceptional fighters do exceptional things. The plan from Emmanuel Rodriguez to meet Inoue centre ring was as surprising as it was misguided, and once the Puerto Rican felt confident enough to start trading, there was really only one outcome.
LG: We already knew how classy Inoue is but this was another sublime performance to destroy an elite level opponent. He's a fighter you look forward to seeing in the ring for weeks then he ends things just like that and leaves you wanting even more. He's great in all departments but his power at the weight is scary and that's what's going to help him attract the wider audiences going forward, as he keeps adding to his knockout reel. Can't wait for the WBSS final now but it's going to be a tough night for Nonito Donaire!
DW: What a superb fighter Inoue really is. Having watched him carefully since his destruction of Adrian Hernandez for the WBC 108lbs title it comes as no surprise to see him continue to be a destroyer of men in the higher weight classes. Last night was more evidence of his amazing punching power. When Inoue hits you, you stay hit and the look of sheer terror on the face of Rodriguez, a legit champion in the bantamweight division, told us all we need to know. The guy is a freak, the most fearsome 118lber arguably since the days of Carlos Zarate.
CW: I remember a BM piece on Terry Norris in the early 1990’s titled 'The Dominator' and Inoue wears that description better than any active modern fighter. The difference is that Norris was feasting on slightly smaller, ever-so-shopworn fighters, whereas many good judges expected Juan Carlos Payano and Rodriguez in particular to pose problems for the Japanese wrecking machine. It was simply breathtaking to watch and hear Inoue’s punches land so efficiently. The scary thing is that several 'Monster' left hooks marginally missed the target last night before he finished the show. If he’s not the best then he’s certainly the world's most dangerous man, pound for pound.
LW: He's a brilliant fighter. So destructive, so cunning, so seemingly imperturbable. What an honour to have had him perform on British soil.
CH: He was absolutely brilliant. As I watched Rodriguez crumble my brain was whizzing, "Crikey, this could be the man to take the P4P top spot away from Loma!" He is frighteningly good, is now a bona fide three-weight world champion, and if Donaire can upset him in the WBSS final then it will be arguably the biggest boxing upset since Tyson vs Douglas. Inoue is a joy to watch, and what he accomplishes over the next three to four years could be absolutely huge!
AC: Inoue has again staked his claim as the best boxer in the world. Arguably the most explosive and entertaining boxer in the game today, he just walks through his opponents like Godzilla stomping through Mount Fuji!
LB: I thought something that was perhaps overlooked with the ferocity of the finish was the chin Inoue showed early on. He was tagged early a few times as he worked out Rodriguez before making the required adjustments and putting on a show to appease a raucous Glasgow crowd. He also did everyone a favour that has been singing his praises to those outside of boxing and has likely picked up a lot more supporters here in Britain.
BM: Is the Japanese phenom the best boxer in the world right now?
TC: Inoue is a remarkable talent, and it’s been a pleasure watching him develop since those breakthrough wins over Adrian Hernandez and Omar Narvaez. He’s all but conquered three weight classes, having skipped 112lbs completely, and has obliterated three world-level fighters at 118 in less than five minutes combined. Comparisons with the best names of his generation are both warranted and valid. Inoue was a P4P Top 5 fighter before last night, but there’s a real argument his record is now even deeper than the likes of Terence Crawford. Those two, plus Saul Canelo, Vasiliy Lomachenko, and Oleksanr Usyk - in virtually any order - are the standard-bearers for our sport.
LG: Inoue is undoubtedly in the top five P4P in the world right now. In no particular order, Lomachenko, Crawford, Usyk, Canelo and Inoue are the top dogs of boxing currently and there's a strong case that 'the Monster' is the best of them. He has plenty of big names at his weight to add to his legacy in the near future after Donaire too, like Zolani Tete, Ryan Burnett or Luis Nery. So it's likely only a matter of time before he solidifies himself as number one in the world.
DW: Inoue’s level of opposition puts him close to Usyk and Lomachenko at the top of the P4P rankings in my opinion and for sheer excitement he surpasses them. If as expected he does something similar to Donaire in the final I’d like to see him face someone like Luis Nery and maybe then a jump to 122 to face Guillermo Rigondeaux?
CW: I’d still rank Usyk and Lomachenko slightly above Inoue for the moment, but there isn’t much in it at all.
LW: On accomplishments Usyk and Crawford are the world's best (having totally unified divisions), for extravagant skills Loma is number one, for sheer destructiveness it's Inoue.
CH: As per the above, I think he cannot be any lower than third: there's not much between Loma, Crawford, Inoue and Usyk, but not having Loma as number 1 feels weird. I do think Inoue may have just overtaken Crawford for second place, but I'm sure the American would feel hard done by.
AC: Inoue must be considered in the top three boxers in the world right now. And the other two are just making up the numbers.
LB: I still prefer Crawford but you certainly couldn’t tell anyone they were wrong for thinking otherwise. With no clear top dog, he’s got his name in the conversation which is a huge achievement in itself.
BM: How impressed were you with Josh Taylor and does he beat Regis Prograis in the WBSS 140lbs final?
TC: Taylor was excellent once again. What’s so exciting about the Scot is that he’s so good to watch — he’s a beautiful technical boxer when he wants to be, but that Celtic blood running through him means he’s always able to be tempted into a war of attrition. Last night was more of the latter, but he beat Ivan Baranchyk at the type of fight the Belarussian wanted. Prograis is rightly the slight favourite with the bookies, but it’s the highest-level match-up we’ve seen at 140 in several years, and it’s close to a pick ‘em. The location of the fight could have a significant bearing on its outcome.
LG: Taylor was impressive yet again in overcoming a very tough and durable Baranchyk. He showed experience beyond his years in not blowing himself going after the finish when he dropped and hurt his opponent midway too, instead getting back to basics and building on his lead. He's a worthy world champion and perhaps the best and most exciting fighter Britain has to offer right now. Prograis is a tough match-up as well and it's a close fight that could go either way. The location of it could play a big part in proceedings.
DW: I thought Taylor was excellent last night. Baranchyk refused to be dominated and so it made for a terrific battle with Taylor showing how good he is on the inside. At times he switched off and allowed Baranchyk to steal rounds but was a deserved winner. The Prograis fight will be a totally different affair but I think Taylor has the chin, size and inside game to withstand the Americans bombs to wear him down over 12 rounds for a decision win. The location of the fight could be a big factor but it seems that Prograis is open to travelling back to Scotland which is good news for Taylor.
CW: Taylor passed his biggest test against Baranchyk and impressed me greatly. His hot head remains both an asset and a liability while also making him a must-watch fighter. I’m sitting on the fence with regards to the 140lbs WBSS final until the dust has settled and I’ve rewatched recent footage of both men.
LW: Taylor was impressive although he could have won wider if he'd boxed a bit smarter. I think he will edge Prograis in a tight but absorbing contest.
CH: Taylor did really well and is deserved of holding the IBF title. Perhaps fighting at home was the 'extra' he needed but he upped his game to the necessary level and was a deserving winner. I think Prograis starts as favourite in the final for good reason, but perhaps the location of the match will prove to give the eventual winner the 'edge'.... if having to pick a winner right now I'm afraid my money is on the American.
AC: Taylor was impressive against the teak-tough Baranchyk, but he is going to have to reach another level to beat Prograis.
LB: Extremely impressed, particularly as Taylor showed Baranchyk in the middle rounds that he could even beat him at his own fight. He looks like he’ll be in an entertaining scrap whenever he fights and has that grit that you need at the highest level when the fights get tough. I think Prograis looks to be making lighter work of his opponents but it’s as much of a 50-50 fight as you can ask for; the WBSS has delivered again.