Unbeaten junior middleweight contender Tim Tszyu (20-0, 15 KOs) defeated an overmatched and underpowered Takeshi Inoue (17-2-1, 10 KOs) in beating him by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision on Wednesday night at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia.
In his toughest test to date, #1 WBO Tszyu stalked the former 154-lb world title challenger Inoue around the ring, concentrating on hitting him to the body to take his legs away.
Tszyu dropped Inoue in the 12th round, but he couldn’t finish him off. Inoue fought desperately in the final round, abandoning his high guard shell to fight tooth & nail in hopes of scoring a come from behind knockout.
By far, this was the most entertaining of the round’s entire fight as both guys threw caution to the wind.
The judges’ scores:
If you wanted to reach, you could give Inoue a couple of rounds based on him landing a few shots, but it was hard to do that, though, because Tszyu landed the much harder punches throughout the fight.
Although Inoue looked like the far imposing of the two in terms of his physique, he didn’t have the punching power of Tszyu, who takes his famous dad Kostya Tszyu with his heavy hands.
Because of that, this writer couldn’t give Inoue the rounds because he was underpowered in that fight and was fighting too defensively by shelling up in survival mode.
Inoue had a high guard up from the opening round and wasn’t going to let the hard-hitting 27-year-old Tszyu hit him with one of his powerful shots to the head.
Inoue moved well initially in the first four rounds, but the hard body shots from Tszyu took their toll on him by the fifth, as he was no longer able to move as he’d done earlier and was forced to stand and fight.
Tszyu had his way with Inoue once his legs were gone, and the fight turned into a heavy bag session from that point on.
In the fifth round, Tszyu caught Inoue with a sharp headshot that caused the Japanese fighter to turn and flee, exposing his back as he ran.
That move from Inoue showed that he’d lost his senses entirely because you don’t often see top-tier contenders turn their backs on opponents too often. Tszyu followed the retreating Ioue across the ring, pelting him with shots as he moved.
By that point in the fight, it was no longer competitive because Inoue had given up the ship was just there to try and keep from getting knocked out rather than putting in a concerted effort to win.
It was disappointing to watch, but Team Tszyu was aware of the type of opponent they would get when they put this fight together.
Inoue was just as severely overmatched two years ago in his one-sided 12 round unanimous decision defeat against former WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia in January 2019 in Houston, Texas.
Munguia was hitting Inoue at will with shots for 12 rounds, and it wasn’t competitive after the first four rounds, just like tonight.
“It was a great experience,” Tim Tszyu said happily after the contest. “The guy’s built like a brick wall. F***ing hit him with anything, and he doesn’t go down.”
“I don’t think any heavyweights can drop him. Hands up to him. I’m sure he’s going to be sore tomorrow. Man, what a warrior!”
“I didn’t feel s**t. I was just having a good time!” said Tszyu when asked about being hit back by Inoue.
Inoue would have likely been knocked out tonight if Tszyu had been willing to empty his tank by going all out for the stoppage rather than throwing single shots and fighting cautiously. To knock out a guy like Inoue, you can’t be cautious the way Tszyu fought tonight because it takes more than one shot to hurt this guy.
Tszyu’s win keeps him in line to eventually challenge WBO junior middleweight champion Brian Castano for his belt in 2022. Castano and IBF/WBA/WBO champion Jermell Charlo are expected to fight a rematch at some point.
It’ll be interesting to see which of those two champions Tszyu winds up facing next year. Ideally, all four belts will be up for grabs when Tszyu fights for the title because it’ll make the fight much more significant.