By Keith Idec
Naoya Inoue made the announcement fight fans wanted to hear about as quickly Friday night as he knocked out Jamie McDonnell.
The newly crowned WBA world bantamweight champion confirmed during a post-fight press conference in Tokyo that he has agreed to participate in the World Boxing Super Series’ bantamweight tournament later this year. The heavily hyped Inoue’s inclusion in the WBBS’ single-elimination, 118-pound tournament should bring plenty of additional attention to it.
Japan’s Inoue (16-0, 14 KOs) is generally regarded as one of the top 10 boxers, pound-for-pound, in boxing, despite his limited professional experience. The hard-hitting, 25-year-old Inoue became a world champion in a third weight class by knocking out England’s McDonnell in the first round at Ota City General Gymnasium.
Inoue knocked down McDonnell (29-3-1, 13 KOs, 1 NC) twice in the first round and needed just one minute and 52 seconds to knock out the 32-year-old former champion.
Before beating the taller, more experienced McDonnell quickly in his bantamweight debut, Inoue had won the WBC light flyweight and WBO super flyweight titles during a pro career that began in October 2012.
The unbeaten Inoue figures to battle better bantamweights than McDonnell in the WBSS tournament.
The entire field has yet to be officially announced, but WBA “super” champion Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9 KOs), WBO champ Zolani Tete (27-3, 21 KOs) and IBF champ Emmanuel Rodriguez (18-0, 12 KOs) confirmed their participation prior to Inoue’s announcement regarding the WBSS’ bantamweight tournament. Inoue could get the opportunities in that tournament to become the WBA’s true champion at 118 pounds, a distinction that currently belongs to Northern Ireland’s Burnett, and add other titles to his resume.
The WBSS is expected to announce its bantamweight schedule at some point in July. Its 118-pound tournament is expected to start on an unspecified September date.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.