WBSS Semi-Finals: Inoue and Taylor Move On to the Finals

WBSS Semi-Finals:

Inoue and Taylor Move On to the Finals

By Jack Price

The World Boxing Super Series tournament travelled to Scotland on Saturday night for the second stages of the light-welterweight and bantamweight semi-finals.

Boxing fans were treated to two mouth-watering clashes as Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue took on the unbeaten Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez for the IBF world title and Scottish fan favourite Josh Taylor had a tough test to take on against the Belarusian beast Ivan Baranchyk in the main event.

Both match-ups were expected to provide us with excitement and they did not disappoint!

First up was Inoue vs Rodriguez.

Inoue, now 18-0 with 16 KO’s, started as the favourite but he was expected to at least be tested a bit against Rodriguez in this one.

But once again he dominated and demolished another world-class fighter with ease, proving once again just how good he is.

Rodriguez, who suffered the first loss of his career and is now 19-1 with 12 KO’s, was an unbeaten world champion going into this and he did start confidently. But that confidence was sucked out of him as soon he felt the power of Inoue. The firepower the Japanese 26-year old has in his fists for a man of his size is quite frightening.

There’s an argument for him being the biggest pound-for-pound puncher in the sport today.

The 1st round was close but Inoue just edged it as he started to let his hands go in the final minute. In the 2nd round he came out with mean intent and started to unleash some big bombs. A massive left-hook dropped Rodriguez just 30 seconds into the round and the end looked inevitably near as Rodriguez rose to his feet very wobbly. The ring-smarts of Inoue were then also on show as he decided to go for the body instead of trying to hurt his opponent to the head again. This worked well as a sickening left-hook, right-hand to the gut bent Rodriguez over and sent him down to the canvas.

The Puerto Rican did show guts to climb to his feet once again but just seconds later Inoue dropped him once more with another left to the body and this time the referee decided to wave it off.

Inoue has now picked up another world title in his third weight division and looks unbeatable right now. He’s becoming more and more of a pound-for-pound contender with every performance. Next up, he will face Filipino legend Nonito Donaire, the WBA champion, in a unification fight in the final of the WBSS tournament.

Donaire will be good enough and smart enough to last a few rounds but I think it’s another inevitable KO victory for ‘The Monster’ and he will get his hands on that Muhammad Ali trophy.

The main event saw exciting up-and-comer Josh Taylor in his first world title fight in front of his home fans in Scotland. It wasn’t going to be an easy night for him though as IBF champion Ivan Baranchyk was an unbeaten world champion and full of confidence.

This was my pick for fight of the night and it didn’t disappoint. The first four rounds were very close and could have gone either way, but the 5th was a big round for Baranchyk as he started to close the gap and tag Taylor.

Taylor didn’t go down but he was definitely buzzed a few times. But in the 6th round we saw a massive turnaround as Taylor dropped the champion twice, showing just how quick things can change in boxing.

The 7th was another round for Taylor but then he seemed to slow down a bit and let Baranchyk get back into the fight in the 8th and 9th with the Belarusian winning them simply on work-rate. As the gap was closing again Taylor put in a good performance in the 11th before Baranchyk did well to win the final round.

In terms of rounds the fight was close but with the two knockdowns it was clear that Taylor would be the winner on the scorecards. I had it 115-111 and the three judges had it 117-109 and 115-111 x2 handing Taylor the first world title of his career.

In the final of the 140lb tournament Taylor will take on WBC Diamond & WBA world champion Regis Prograis, who is currently regarded as the No.1 in the division. It’s an intriguing match-up and tough to pick a winner. Right now I’d edge towards Taylor but I believe it’s one that really could go either way.

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