Earlier today in Tokyo, Japan, Takuma Inoue, the younger brother of “Monster” Naoya Inoue, won the WBA bantamweight title his brother vacated as he made the move up to 122 pounds. Takuma Inoue won an at times hard-earned 12 round unanimous decision over Venezuela’s Liborio Solis.
The scores were 1117-111, 118-110 and 116-112. Inoue is now 18-1(4). 41 year old Solis, who used all his experience in making some of the rounds very close, falls to 35-7-1(16). There was a nasty clash of heads in round five, with Inoue suffering a cut to his left eye. Thankfully, the damage was not bad enough for the fight to be stopped.
A good fight that was no match for the Kenshiro Teraji-Anthony Olascuaga WBC/WBA light flyweight co-feature – this one a real firefight, with late sub challenger Olascuaga giving the defending champ all he could handle before he was knocked through the ropes and stopped in the ninth round of a hugely entertaining battle – Inoue’s win was a more technical affair.
But now that he has seen to it that the WBA bantamweight belt will stay in the Inoue trophy cabinet, Takuma says his goal moving forward is to unify all four belts at 118 pounds the way his more famous, harder punching brother did.
“This is the belt that my brother used to have and it was the first one that he won, so I’m relieved to win it,” Inoue, who was the WBC interim champ from 2018 to 2019, said post-fight. “My brother held all four belts and I want to say that my challenge is now to do the same – I want to become the undisputed champion.”
The younger Inoue may not be as heavy-handed as Naoya, but he is a quality boxer with plenty of ability. As of now, the other three bantamweight titles, WBC/WBO/IBF titles, are all up for grabs as they remain vacant. So can the younger Inoue follow in his brother’s footsteps? Maybe, maybe not.
To repeat, though, the Teraji-Olascuaga battle really did steal the show today. Teraji is often involved in great action fights and today he again gave his supporters plenty to get excited about. Teraji was really given a run for his money by his young challenger. From the opening bell, both men threw power shots as they looked to land some hurt. Teraji was able to mix it up to head and body and he appeared to take over the fight in the middle rounds. Yet the ultra-game Olascuaga raged back in rounds 7 and 8, his efforts elevating the fight.
Teraji, though, put his challenger in his place in style in the ninth, this with a barrage of shots that blasted Olascuaga through the ropes, this prompting referee Mark Nelson to wave it off without issuing a count. Olascuaga, who was a late replacement for Jonathan Gonzalez who was forced to pull out due to illness, can absolutely come again. As for Teraji, the 31 year old is carving out a reputation as being one of the most consistently thrilling fighters out there. If he was a bigger man, Teraji would be a huge star not only in Japan.
Also on today’s card, Spanish warrior Kiko Martinez was unable to pull off the kind of upset win he has become known for. Facing Reiya Abe in an IBF 126 pound eliminator, Martinez was soundly outpointed, this via scores of 119-109, 119-109, and 117-111. Abe is now 25-3-1(10). Kiko falls to 44-12-2(31) and his incredible run may finally be over.