How scary is The Monster?

SPORTING CHANCEJoaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) – November 1, 2020 – 12:00am

Super WBA/IBF bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue got banged up by Nonito Donaire Jr. in their unification showdown in Saitama last November but still walked away with his unblemished record intact. The Japanese fighter known as The Monster suffered a fracture in his right orbital bone, a broken nose and a cut over the right eye that required five stitches to close. To his credit, Inoue battled courageously until the end of the 12-round contest despite bleeding from the cut starting the second stanza and from his nose starting the third.

Inoue dropped Donaire with a shot to the body in the 11th round to seal the victory by unanimous decision. If not for the knockdown, Inoue would’ve won by a majority verdict, a consolation for Donaire who stood his ground from start to finish. The three judges scorecards were 117-109, 116-111 and 114-113. For his efforts, Donaire has been rewarded with a shot at the WBC crown held by Frenchman Nordine Oubaali in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Dec. 12.

Inoue, 27, will make his debut with Top Rank against Australian Jason Moloney at the MGM Grand Bubble, Las Vegas, this morning (Manila time). Has he fully recovered from his injuries? Inoue never underwent repair surgery, deciding to let the wounds heal on their own. How fragile is he without going through surgery? Will his aggressive style be tempered by the scars of the Donaire war?

Regardless of Inoue’s state of mind and body, Moloney, 29, should be easy prey for The Monster. He totes a 21-1 record, with 18 KOs, and his only loss was a 2018 split decision to Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez whom Inoue dispatched in two rounds a year later. Since the defeat to Rodriguez, Moloney has won four in a row, all inside the distance and one of his victims was Filipino Cris Paulino. In all, Moloney has victimized nine Filipinos – Paulino (KO5), Lolito Sonsona W10), Marco Demecillo (W8), Gerpaul Valero (KO7), Jeffrey Francisco (W6), Virden Rivera (KO3), Markquil Salvana (KO5), Danilo Garibay (KO5) and Alvin Bais (KO3).

Under the terms of his Top Rank contract, Inoue was supposed to fight thrice in the US this year but because of the pandemic, he’ll settle for just one against Moloney. He was ticketed to face WBO bantamweight champion Johnriel Casimero in Las Vegas last April but it never pushed through. Inoue’s excuse was travel restrictions. Casimero ended up fighting Duke Micah in Connecticut instead and knocked out the Ghanaian in style last September. Inoue arrived in Las Vegas two weeks ago to keep his appointment with Moloney who also has a Top Rank contract.

Inoue’s record is 19-0, with 16 KOs. But Casimero isn’t impressed. After demolishing Micah, Casimero called out Inoue and renamed him The Japanese Turtle for hiding from him. Inoue said the other day he’ll deal with Casimero after dismissing Moloney. Casimero said he’s not interested to watch Inoue fight Moloney because he knows what will happen. He doesn’t expect Moloney to push Inoue to the limit like Donaire. Casimero, however, might want to check out how much scare is left of The Monster after suffering the injuries that Donaire inflicted.

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