by Takahiro Onaga
This past week has been a great one for fans of the Super Flyweight division. On Wednesday we saw Luis Concepcion claim the WBA title, with a victory over Kohei Kono in Tokyo, on Friday we saw Jerwin Ancajas upset McJoe Arroyo for the IBF title and today we saw the WBO title being fought for in Kanagawa.
Whilst the first two bouts, both seen as competitive contests by those who follow the divisions, saw the titles changing hands today's bout didn't, though no one really expected it to. Instead it saw Naoya Inoue (11-0, 9) put on a mixed-performance in an expected win as he over-came Thailand's Petchbarngborn Kokietgym (38-8-1, 18), also known as Karoon Jarupianlerd, and recorded his third defense of the title.
The two men started the bout with their jabs being key, but by the end of the opening round it looked like we'd be in for a short night with Inoue hurting the Thai late in round. Rather than follow up with a hot start in round 2 the champion seemed happier to use the round as a sparring session for the most part, before turning up the heat in the final minute. Having warmed up The Monster seemed happy to have a fight in round 3 as the two traded shots on the inside, with Inoue landing some wonderful shots, including an beautiful uppercut early in the round and several wicked body shots.
Surprisingly Petchbarngborn withstood the assault and seemed to be growing in confidence from his ability to soak up punishment in round 3 and Inoue moved to plan B, a plan that seemed to concentrate on protecting the injury prone right hand. That plan was to simply box from the outside, use the jab frequently and leave the Thai chasing shadows.
In round 5 it seemed like Inoue was feeling too relaxed allowing the Thai in too easily. Whilst up close Petchbarngborn took his opportunity to land body shots, straying low on several occasions. One of those low blows saw Inoue turn to the referee and take several clean head shots with his hands down. It was a naive move from the champion but one that was later followed by him giving the Thai a bit of a beating later in the round, almost as punishment for the cheap shots.
Despite giving Petchbarngborn a bit of a beating at times in round 5 and 6 the following rounds saw Inoue again box on the move, make the most of his lead hand and take as few risks with his right as possible. The power hand was sparingly but it never seemed like Inoue was in any trouble whilst fighting one handed, in fact in round 9 he made the challenger look like a total novice whilst depending almost entirely on the lead hand and his movement. It like a soccer team breaking the opponents mentally by keeping the ball and not letting the opponents get close.
With the right hand seemingly damaged Inoue didn't use it until midway through round 10, however when he used it he seemed to hurt the Thai and set off on a fully fledged 2-handed attack. The challenger tried to fight back but it was clear that Inoue had had enough of the fight and just kept unloading until the tough Thai finally went down. The beating had been nasty but Petchbarngborn stil tried to get to his feet, being counted out in the act of rising.
After the bout Inoue's mentor Hideyuki Ohashi, himself a former champion, confirmed that Inoue would be ringside next weekend to watch Carlos Cuadras Vs Roman Gonzalez, with the intention being to build towards a bout with the winner next year. Before his next fight he will likely need to give his hand some time to rest with some visible damage being seen during the post fight formalities.