Naoya Inoue got THE TREATMENT from Top Rank in the lead-up to his Saturday night fight against Michael Dasmarinas which unfolded at the Virgin Hotel Las Vegas…and the Japanese bantamweight ace lived up to the gushing.
Oh, it was gush-y.
I know because I was one of the talking heads who offered takes on the 28 year old with the beyond mellow personality which is paired with a hunger to close the show with a climax. Top Rank put together a lengthy and entertaining package which ran on their platform and then screened on ESPN before the main event.
Doug Fischer, Lance Pugmire, Steve Kim, Mark Kriegel, Elie Seckbach and me, and a few others, summed up our perceptions of the pound for pound pugilist, and I think every single person mentioned assumed Naoya Inoue would be adding Dasmarinas to his body count.
The body work was something to behold, if you missed it. You could, I guess, ask the brave Filipino Dasmarinas who sought to summon answers to Inoue's skill set, to no avail, if he agrees…but the wince-faces he made in rounds two and three, when Inoue dialed in on his pain delivery plan, answers the question without it having to be asked.
The first knockdown came about like this: jab, right uppercut to cut the guard, left hook strafed as Naoya Inoue backed away, to stay defensively responsible.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) June 20, 2021
Dasmarinas took a knee, his right hand involuntarily going to the region where the left hook landed. His eyes were clear, but he was acting some. You saw him work harder to get oxygen as he listened to the ref play out the mandatory eight. His insides weren't right, he knew that as he looked up at the clock to see how much longer he'd have to work to make it to round three. The guy took four more hooks to his right side in the remaining 60 seconds of the round, bless his hearty soul.
Dasmarinas didn't act like he was entering the room where the electric chair rules to start the third, props to him. In fact, he started the round attempting to send a message (“I'm good, you didn't take that much out of me”) with a thrust at Inoue, punctuated by a left hand power attempt. Almost right away, the body snatching started. Blow by blow man Joe Tessitore's enthusiasm couldn't be contained, he ohhh'd and aww'd as two left hooks landed clean, in that same pained place on Dasmarinas' right side. The analysts Tim Bradley and Andre Ward were savvy, they saw what the Japanese boxer was doing as he sought to close out the show. He tried to shift attention, by utilizing right hands to the head, and who knows, maybe that worked a bit, because Dasmarinas hung tough and showed decent defense in the middle third of the round.
I think maybe people studying this fight, if they are going to be fighting Naoya Inoue and are looking for things to do that might work, and seeking to learn things to avoid doing, so as not to fall prey to the same fate, will be noting that not getting backed into the ropes is a key to victory–or to not getting kayoed as quick.
Dasmarinas could have succumbed more quickly, by the way, the second time he went down, the ref could have reached a ten count and nobody in the joint would have vocalized any displeasure. How'd this knockdown come to fruition? Inoue used a right uppercut to get more space to aim for with the hook, and then wham, that hook detonated, and Dasmarinas went to the floor, both knees hitting canvas. Ward had just said, “A smart fighter like Naoya Inoue will go away from it, then come back to it,” and voila, the main event focal point followed suit.
“It's over,” said Bradley, after Dasmarinas had rolled onto his back, but then sat up, on his butt, wincing, thinking about his options. Props again to the Filipino, for not choosing to close up shop. He got to his feet and stood erect at the count of nine, while again doing a search for the clock. How much time do I have to work to stay aloft, he wondered. Not enough, was the answer, or more specifically, 26 seconds remained of the third.
Liver … Liver … Game Over, #AndStill inside of 3 rounds.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) June 20, 2021
The finishing sequence went like this: a jab started backing Dasmarinas up, a left hook kept him backing harder into the ropes, a right hand didn't land clean but it froze Dasmarinas even more. Next, a left uppercut came from underneath as Naoya Inoue slid to his right, to get a sweeter angle, so a left hook could be placed on that same beleaguered region of his right side. Dasmarinas after turning to be able to see Inoue, and defend himself more adequately, started a left hand counter, as the final hook got deployed. Deployed and detonated…Dasmarinas went down again, for the third time, and the ref did the right thing and didn't even give him the opportunity to beat the count.
He waved his hands, signaling the end. That was the last wince face we'd see from Dasmarinas.
Won't be the last wince-face Inoue inflicts on foes.
Your next opportunity to see it comes in November, according to Inoue's American promoter Bob Arum. But it's not maybe as likely we see the same level of destruction come the fall, because Arum is planning to match Naoya Inoue with the winner of the forthcoming Nonito Donaire v John Riel Casimero fight, which unspools in August. Dasmarinas was game but in over his head. Donaire has already proven that him and Inoue are comparable and Casimero is closer to Nonito in terms of tools in his arsenal than Dasmarinas.