By Alexey Sukachev
This past Friday night at the Rossiya Theatre in Moscow, the quarter-finals were set for Season II of the World Boxing Super Series - with tournaments taking place in the super lightweight and bantamweight divisions.
All sixteen participants in attendance
The bantamweight bracket will feature IBF world champion Emmanuel Rodriguez facing Australia’s unbeaten Jason Maloney. Ryan Burnett, who holds the WBA 'super' title, will be facing former four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire. Naoya Inoue, the WBA ‘regular’ champion, is going up against Juan Carlo Payano, and WBO world champion Zolani Tete takes on Mikhail Aloyan.
BoxingScene.com spoke with Inoue (16-0, 14 KOs) about making the decision to participate in the WBSS and selected a former champion in Payano (20-1, 9 KOs) as his first opponent.
The Japanese fighter is now a three weight champion, and he's on a fast streak of demolishing the competition.
BoxingScene: Why have you selected Juan Carlos Payano as your opponent for the quarterfinal?
Inoue: I appreciate his style. He is coming forward; he is masterful at what he is doing. He has lots of skills, and I hope we are in for a great fight.
BoxngScene: What was the reason for moving up in weight?
Inoue: There are two reasons. I’m more comfortable in this weight class, and also for the challenge. The WBSS presents a real challenge for me.
BoxingScene: Who was your toughest opponent?
Inoue: They were all tough. I respect every opponent I’m set to fight, and the preparations for them aren’t easy.
BoxingScene: Are you disappointed you haven’t had the chance to meet Roman Gonzalez in the ring?
Inoue: I’m a bit disappointed that the timing for it wasn’t or isn’t right, but at the moment I’m fully content to compete in the WBSS right now.