Season 1 of the World Boxing Super Series was a huge hit, there were very few glitches on the way to determining a final winner in both the Super Middleweight and Cruiserweight divisions. A young prospect grew into a certified world champion, and a unified champion and pound-for-pound star was born at Cruiserweight. There were also a pair of candidates for fight of the year, and just when you thought it couldn’t get much better, along came Season 2.
This time there are three weight classes, and having ironed out a few creases, fans will be reaping the rewards of a tournament process that just works.
Each week there will be double headers taking place across the globe. The Cruiserweights return – with a few notable returning names as well as fresh faces looking to take the world by storm.
The Super Lightweights are missing two world champions, but they have a plethora of elite prospects waiting to create their own legacies. And then there is the gem of the trio, the Bantamweights.
Naoya Inoue, Zolani Tete, Ryan Burnett and Emmanuel Rodriguez all hold titles and all come with glittering reputations as some of the best pound-for-pound.
At the time of writing the World Boxing Super Series was without a suitor to air some of the top fights in world boxing here in the UK. And with one of the most hyped talents to ever come out of Japan in action on Sunday, it will be a huge blow for so many fans that had to empty their pockets to the big pay-per-view players last month.
Kiryl Relikh and Eduard Troyanovsky take chief support in the Super Lightweight category, but the expectant Japanese support will be focused on their sporting hero.
Naoya Inoue is 25-years old, entering his 17th fight and already a three-weight world champion. This is world title fight number 12, as he makes a maiden defence of the WBA Bantamweight crown he ripped from Jamie McDonnell (W TKO 1) is a solitary round this May.
Inoue’s reputation speaks for itself, as does the nickname he lives up to in the ring, ‘Monster’. Like the rest of the entrants in the tournament, Juan Carlos Payano is up against it, but the career Bantamweight is not a stranger to fighting against the odds.
Elite amateur Rau’shee Warren (W SD 12 & L MD 12) suffered his first career loss when he met Payano as a heavy favourite. Payano suffered a scrappy affair that included a late knockdown, defending the WBA title he had won from Anselmo Moreno (W TD 6) a year earlier. The second meeting was no different, but this time it was Warren who got the nod by the tightest of margins.
The Dominican born Payano 20-1(9KO’s) will acknowledge his route to winning is a very tricky one. He likes to fight inside, make things tough and ugly for his opponent, but against a ferocious puncher like Inoue, that is a humungous risk to take.
Payano has already tasted the canvas on a number of occasions and is susceptible to cuts – certainly a side-effect of his fighting style – and that is all music to the ears of Inoue 16-0(14KO’s) and his team.
Payano is as tough as they come, but Inoue has seen many tough men crumble in front of him, and that is likely to be the case here. Payano would be a hard assignment for any of the champions in the WBSS, but they would all be heavily favoured.
However none would make the task look as easy as Inoue will on Sunday in Yokohama. Inoue can kick the new season off in style, patiently breaking Payano down inside 5 rounds.