Inoue Stops Ancajas In Nine To Remain On Course For Nakatani

Takuma Inoue made the first defense of his WBA bantamweight title by impressively stopping Jerwin Ancajas in nine rounds at Tokyo’s Kokugikan.

In what perhaps represented the finest performance of his career – and certainly his finest win – he ended the improving Ancajas’ challenge 44 seconds into the ninth round with a powerful right hand to the body.

It was a right hand to the head that caught the eye in the first round, and his right hand that would consistently prove either fighters’ most influential weapon.

Ancajas, 32, was once on course to create for himself the nature of career Inoue appears on the brink of, but even with a noticeable size advantage was made to look largely one-dimensional and in decline. 

They both landed authoritative right hands in the second round, by when Inoue was already establishing himself as the superior counter-puncher. Three rights towards the end of the third – the third of which was the most significant of all until the stoppage – owed partly to the 28-year-old Inoue’s admirable mobility, and also demonstrated his edge in speed.

When they fought on the inside in the fourth – it was there that Ancajas looked more comfortable – Inoue succeeded with right uppercuts, and then a counter right on the retreat, but ultimately looked less convincing. 

A combination in the fifth showed his unusual effectiveness from range as the smaller fighter, and the extent to which in the fourth he had been taking unnecessary risks. 

Successive rights and a left hand in the sixth continued to re-establish his momentum towards regaining the title once held by his celebrated older brother Naoya Inoue, but he then – as a consequence of Ancajas’ earlier body punching – like his Filipino opponent started to tire.

It was a clinical right hand to the body in the ninth that after a delayed reaction dropped Ancajas sufficiently heavily it was quickly apparent the fight was over. Ancajas had started to assert himself against the tiring champion, but was punished with an uppercut to the liver that he hadn’t appeared at risk of.

“I was really worried – I didn’t know what to expect,” Japan’s Inoue then said of an opponent he had previously been open about “idolising”. “[But] I felt so skilled; so strong, which gave me so much confidence. 

“I showed a new side to me moving forward. I’ve so much gratitude to my father [and trainer Shingo] and brother for all their support.”

Earlier in the Japanese capital Junto Nakatani won the WBC bantamweight title from Alexandro Santiago, who in 2018 drew with Ancajas. He and Inoue can in future be expected to fight with both titles on the line.