By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
WBO 115-pound champ Naoya “Monster” Inoue (15-0, 13 KOs), Japan, will have an ambitious crack at the WBA bantamweight belt against Jamie McDonnell (29-2-1-1NC, 13 KOs), UK, in Tokyo, Japan, on May 25. It was officially announced by Ohashi Promotions today (Tuesday). At the press conference Inoue, accompanied by his father/trainer Shingo and his manager/promoter Hideyuki Ohashi (formerly WBA/WBC 105-pound champ), expressed his motivation to have a shot at his third world belt by outgrowing the 115-pound category. “I know McDonnell is a strong champion with his good height (five inches taller at 5’10”) and good record. I’d like to prepare well in order to win the third championship for me.”
Ohashi officially announced that Inoue today renounced his WBO junior bantamweight belt that he defended seven times, and expressed their great thanks to WBO president Francisco Paco Valcarcel for his warm consideration and cooperation as Naoya sustained a hand injury upon his shocking victory over Omar Narvaes in December 2014 and needed a long recovery.
In Japanese boxing history, some British boxers fought our champions with world belts on the line. Alan Rudkin had a shot at the world bantamweight belt against Fighting Harada, losing a unanimous decision in 1965. Former titleholder Ken Buchanan, in 1975, was a prefight favorite, but failed to win the WBC lightweight belt from Guts Ishimatsu on a unanimous verdict in Tokyo. In the UK, Mitsunori Seki faced Howard Winstone in quest of the vacant WBC featherweight belt only to be halted in round nine in London in 1968. Lately, Suguru Muranaka and Sho Ishida went to UK to challenge WBA super-fly ruler Khalid Yafai only to lose on points both last year. It is McDonnell that, for the first time in history, will put his world belt on the line against a Japanese challenger here in Japan.
We hope the sensational McDonnell-Inoue title bout will be competitive enough to fully entertain the audience at Ota-city General Gymnasium and television watchers in Japan (through Fuji Television) and UK as well.