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Seat on the ring: Naoya Inoue, Mikaela Mayer, Jermall Charlo to defend their title; Anderson Silva tries boxing … again

When Naoya Inoue started boxing as a first grader in Japan, he had no ambitions to fight professionally, let alone beat up people or become world champion. He just did it.

It wasn’t until years later, after Inoue had trained in the same gym as future three-division world champion Akira Yaegashi and saved with him, did Inoue begin to think about the possibility.

“That’s when I realized what level I was at,” Inoue told ESPN through an interpreter. “And that basically gave me the idea of ​​wanting this urge – wanting to become world champion.”

This is a role that Inoue (20-0, 17 KO’s) has played for some time and will take on Michael Dasmarinas in Las Vegas in the Top Rank Boxing Main Event on Saturday, where he will win the WBA and IBF bantamweight titles (ESPN and ESPN +) 10:00 p.m. ET, with preliminary rounds at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN +).

He has held at least one world title since 2014. First it was the WBC junior flyweight title, which Inoue won against Adrian Hernandez in 2014. Then it was the WBO junior bantamweight title against Omar Narvaez in the same year. He held that belt for three years before moving up to bantamweight where he did win the WBA “regular” bantamweight belt against Jamie McDonnell in 2018.

Inoue added the IBF and The Ring bantamweight titles a second round TKO from Emmanuel Rodriguez in 2019 and the WBA “super” bantamweight title on November 7, 2019 when he won an outright war against Nonito Donaire in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series.

As long as he beat Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20 KO’s), he said his next plan would be to unify the bantamweight belts (Donaire owns the WBC belt and John Riel Casimero the WBO title) – something that he hopes to achieve by the end of 2021. The 28-year-old from Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan hasn’t thought much about it, but he also enjoys the attention that comes with every fight.

He said he could lead a pretty normal life. When the fans recognize him, he returns the attention, but it wasn’t too intrusive. He felt comfortable in the spotlight when he started climbing the pound-for-pound rankings.

“At first it wasn’t something I paid too much attention to,” said Inoue. “And then suddenly I was number 9 and then gradually moved up and when I realized it, I started to pay more attention to the rankings.”

If he continues to win and unite titles, that attention should increase. But Inoue tries to keep his feet on the ground. If he’s not fighting, he has no other great hobbies. He spends his free time at home with his family – “the time I enjoy most,” he said.

As Naoya continues to build his name in boxing, he hopes to build a legacy that he and his family can be proud of.

“Basically,” said Inoue. “I just want people to see my boxing and see me as a great boxer.” – Michael Rothstein


Full breakdown and prediction

Inoue is a sizable betting favorite for the Saturday night bout, but Dasmarinas presents two unique challenges to date compared to Inoue’s opponents: he’s a southpaw and he’s lanky.

How will this affect Inoue’s plan and how will it adapt? Check out Timothy Bradley Jr.’s breakdown which includes his prediction for the fight.


Mikaela Mayer: In music

Before Mikaela Mayer became a boxer, Olympic and world champion, she was a musician. Before she fought in front of international audiences and fans sang her name in professional fights, she longed for the energy of standing on a small stage as the bassist for the hardcore metal band Lia-Fail during the Warped Tour. Together she and Nita Strauss – then part of Lia-Fail and now a world-famous guitarist who tours with Alice Cooper – traveled the country, sometimes playing the early, early set of a show in front of bartenders and random stragglers.

Before Mayer’s title defense against Erica Farias Read the full story by Michael Rothstein.


According to the numbers

  • 3: Number of fights in the USA; fight for the second time in Las Vegas

  • 1: 1 in 5 Japanese boxers who win titles in three different weight classes and 1 in 2 boxers who win two bantamweight title bouts by interrupting the first round (Hozumi Hasegawa)

  • 85%: KO percentage, sixth highest among current champions

  • 20: Knockouts for Dasmarinas in 30 professional fights

  • 8th: Number of opponents with lost records out of 33 that Dasmarinas faced

  • 3: Mayer is the third member of the US Olympic boxing team to win the world title in 2016 (Shakur Stevenson, Claressa Shields). She is also in her third 10 round bout in a row.


Full card

  • Title fight: Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17 KOs) vs. Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20 KOs), 12 rounds, for Inoues IBF and WBA bantamweight titles

  • Title fight: Mikaela Mayer (14-0, 5 KOs) vs. Erica Farias (26-4, 10 KOs), 10 rounds to Mayer’s WBO women’s junior lightweight title

  • Adam Lopez (15-2, 6 KOs) vs. Isaac Dogboe (21-2, 15 KOs), 10 rounds, featherweights

  • Lindolfo Delgado (11-0, 11 KOs) vs. Salvador Briceno (17-6, 11 KOs), 8 rounds, junior welterweight

  • Guido Vianello (7-0-1, 7 KOs) vs. Dante Stone (5-1, 3 KOs), 6 rounds, heavyweights

  • Eric Puente (5-0, 0 KOs) vs. Jose Antonio Meza (7-5, 2 KOs), 6 rounds, lightweights

  • Omar Rosario (3-0, 1 KO) vs. Wilfred Mariano (3-0, 2 KOs), 4 rounds, junior welterweight


Charlo wants a better opposition

The way Jermall Charlo slaps his left hand forward, circles his opponent and lands convincing punches makes him look like the middleweight champion he is. When Charlo is at his best, he also looks like the best pure 160 pounder in the world.

There’s just one big problem. Despite being unbeaten, Charlo’s winning streak has not included top opponents. Juan Macias Montiel, Charlo’s opponent Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET), will also not support Charlo’s argument for middleweight supremacy.

That doesn’t mean the 31-year-old isn’t looking for a chance to put his skills to the test against another champion. In fact, he longs for it.

“I really want it,” Charlo told ESPN. “I’ve never had a union fight. That’s something I want. I want all the belts in the division.”

Montiel (22-4-2, 22 KOs) is the type of opponent who could lead to a Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) showcase. Charlo wants bigger fights against bigger names – especially Gennadiy “GGG” Golovkin. Charlo said the GGG camp had not responded to talks about a possible unification struggle. The IBF defending champion Golovkin could instead embark on a unification battle against WBA champions Ryota Murata in December.

A fight against the winner Charlo wants could bolster his status as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in boxing. And given Charlo’s age, the clock is ticking if he is to maximize the potential many believe he has.

“To be the best middleweight in the world, you have to beat the best,” said Charlo. “That’s what we do with anticipation. It’s just small bumps on the road that we have to jump over and over again. Montiel is one.” –Ben baby


According to the numbers

  • 3: Charlo is defending the WBC middleweight title for the third time, winning it in June 2019 when he defeated Brandon Adams

  • -2500: Charlos chance of winning at Caesars William Hill. Charlo has been the betting favorite in all of his World Cup matches so far

  • 22: Number of Montiel knockout wins in the same number of fights as a professional


Full card

  • Title fight: Jermall Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) vs. Juan Macias Montiel (22-4-2, 22 KOs), 12 rounds, for Charlos WBC middleweight title

  • Gabriel Maestre (3-0, 3 KOs) vs. Cody Crowley (19-0, 9 KOs), 12 rounds, world weights

  • Angelo Leo (20-1, 9 KOs) vs. Aaron Alameda (25-1, 13 KOs), 10 rounds, junior featherweight

  • Isaac Cruz Gonzalez (21-1-1, 15 KOs) vs. Francisco Vargas (27-2-2, 19 KOs), 10 rounds, lightweights

  • Alexis Salazar (23-3, 9 KOs) vs. Jairo Ariel Rayman (16-1-1, 7 KOs), 10 rounds, middleweight

  • Richard Medina (9-0, 6 KOs) vs. Omar Castillo (6-2, 3 KOs), 8 rounds, featherweights

  • Willie Jones (7-2, 4 KOs) vs. Brian Jones (15-11, 9 KOs), 6 rounds, world weights

  • Desmond Lyons (6-2, 2 KOs) vs. Jose Israel Ibarra (5-1, 2 KOs), 6 rounds, junior lightweights


Silva steps into the boxing spotlight

There are a handful of other cards to watch out for on Saturday, including a boxing pay-per-view from the Estadio Jalisco, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico owned by former middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and UFC- Legend Anderson is led by Silva.

Record-breaking former UFC middleweight champion Silva will take on Chavez Jr., son of Boxing Hall of Famer Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. – and the elder Chavez will fight another legacy fighter in an exhibit on the undercard, Hector Camacho Jr.


According to the numbers


  • 58: Totals fights as a professional for Chavez Jr. (52-5-1, 34 KOs)

  • 5: Loses 46-0-1 in his last six bouts after starting his career

  • 2: Silva’s career is fighting in boxing before the fight on Saturday (1-1, 1 KO). First boxing match since 2005

  • 45: Total fights for Silva in MMA. 34-11 (17-7 in UFC, 16-0) started

  • 20: UFC record 20 main events for Silva. He also holds the record for the longest winning streak in UFC history (16), the most placements (9) and the most K.


Full card

  • Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (52-5-1, 34 KOs) vs. Anderson Silva (1-1, 1 KOs), 10 rounds, cruiser weights

  • Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. vs. Hector Camacho Jr., 6 round, middleweight show

  • Omar Chavez (38-6-1, 25 KOs) vs. Ramon Alvarez (28-8-3, 16 KOs), 10 rounds, middleweight

  • Damian Sosa (17-1, 10 KOs) vs. Abel Mina (13-0, 7 KOs), 10 rounds, junior middleweight division

  • Kevin Torres (17-1-1, 14 KOs) vs. Jorge Luis Melendez (13-7-2, 8 KOs), 8 rounds, Junior Welterweight

  • Mario Alberto Ramirez (15-1-1, 4 KOs) vs. Pedro Castro (8-2-1, 4 KOs), 8 rounds, junior lightweights

  • Jesus Acosta Ayala (15-2-1, 10 KOs) vs. Leonardo Padilla (19-3, 14 KOs), 8 rounds, junior lightweights

  • Cesar Gutierrez Flores (11-0-2, 4 KOs) vs. Oscar Mejia (14-4-1, 6 KOs), 8 rounds, featherweights

  • Jose Luiz Vazquez Hernandez (2-0, 1 KO) vs. Jonathan Luis Perez Zuniga (6-1, 3 KOs), 8 rounds, featherweights

  • Brian Barragan Rico (6-0, 5 KOs) vs. Ruben Estrella, (8-4-2, 3 KOs), 6 rounds. Junior flyweight weight

  • Erik Inzunza (7-2, 7 KOs) vs. Carlos Daniel Acosta (8-4, 5 KOs), 6 rounds, junior lightweights

  • Karen Rubio (5-1, 0 KOs) vs. Estefany Alegria (1-0, 0 KOs), 4 rounds, juniors in flyweight

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