Inoue and Relikh advance to semi-finals after ‘Monster’ Season II opener
Naoya Inoue KO’d Juan Carlos Payano after only one minute and ten seconds of the first round, and Kiryl Relikh went through twelve tough rounds against Eduard Troyanovsky to score a unanimous win in Sunday’s Ali Trophy Quarter-Finals at the Yokohama Arena, Yokohama.
“I am going for the KO, I am going to finish him,” said Inoue to WBSS’s reporter in Yokohama shortly before entering a sold-out arena modeled after famous Madison Square Garden.
Flash forward to a stunning, lighting-fast left-right combo from the ‘The Monster' that floored Payano and sent shockwaves throughout the world of boxing.
“I am normally not a person who brags, but I said that I went for the KO to put myself under maximum pressure,” said Inoue.
The 25-year-old local hero, Inoue (17-0, 15 KOs) made the first defense of the WBA ‘Regular’ world bantamweight title he won by stopping Britain's Jamie McDonnell in the first round of his previous fight.
The 34-year-old Payano (20-2, 9 KOs) from the Dominican Republic, a former bantamweight world champion, was stopped for the first time since making his debut eight years ago.
In the semi-final, Inoue will face the winner of the Emmanuel Rodriguez vs Jason Moloney quarter-final that takes place on October 20 in Orlando, Florida.
Earlier in the evening, all three judges scored the opening super-lightweight quarter-final of Season II 115-113 in favour of Belarus’ Kiryl Relikh (23-2, 19 KOs) in his clash with Russia’s Eduard Troyanovsky.
“It was a tough fight,” said 29-year-old Relikh who also defended his WBA World Super-Lightweight Championship for the first time. “I went for the KO so I am not happy with my performance. I saw that I hurt him, but I was surprised I couldn’t finish him.”
38-year-old Troyanovsky (29-2, 24 KO’s) showed class in the time of the defeat.
“I want to congratulate Kiryl,” said Troyanovsky. “It was an emotional fight, my first 12 rounder, and I want to say thanks to Kiryl for a good fight. I did my best.”
Relikh will take on either Puerto Rico’s Manny Rodriguez or Australia’s Jason Moloney in the semi-finals. Rodriguez vs Moloney will also be settled on October 20 in Orlando.