It was common knowledge by the time it was formally announced, but the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight quarterfinals matchup between Naoya "Monster" Inoue and Juan Carlos Payano now has an official date and location.
The title fight will take place October 7 at Yokohoma Arena in Inoue's hometown of Yokohoma, Japan. Details of the match were confirmed during a news conference held by Inoue's team in Japan.
“I didn’t expect to fight the first bout (of the tournament) here, but I hope Japanese fans will watch and appreciate my performance," Inoue stated during the session, with the Japanese dialect translated to English through a third party to FightNights.com.
Inoue is one of four-seeded boxers in the bantamweight portion of the World Boxing Super Series Season Two tournament, one of three run by event handlers Comosa AG. News of this clash landing in Japan came on the same day that the WBSS announced a second season of cruiserweight action to go along with the eight-men sets at bantamweight and super lightweight.
Along with what's at stake in the tournament, Inoue (16-0, 14KOs) will also make the first defense of his bantamweight title. The 25-year old wunderkind picked up his third major title in as many weight classes with a devastating 1st round knockout of Jamie McDonnell this past May in Tokyo. In becoming a three-division titlist, Inoue—who has previously enjoyed title reigns at junior flyweight and super flyweight—re-established himself as high among the world's best boxers in the world in a pound-for-pound sense.
On the other side of the equation, Payano (20-1, 9KOs) fully embraces the seemingly monumental task of slaying the Monster on his home turf. The two-time Oympian for his native Dominican Republic who now calls Miami home deems it a necessary risk in his own pursuit of a second bantamweight title reign, having held a title for nearly two years following an upset technical decision win over long-reigning champ Anselmo Moreno in Sept. '14.
"They call him The Monster for a reason; he's been champ in (three weight classes) and right now is the best bantamweight in the world. You don't get to that point by accident," Payano acknowledged in an interview with FightNights.com. "But with all that being said, I couldn't care less about his (lofty) status. Right now, he has to get past me to advance in this tournament, and that's not going to happen."
Payano's reign was stretched out 21 months but with only a single successful title defense, edging Rau'Shee Warren in their first fight in Aug. '15. Their rematch 10 months later was equally nip-and-tuck, with Warren this time coming up on the favorable end of a narrow decision.
Three straight wins have followed for Payano, including an off-the-canvas points victory over previously unbeaten Mike Plania this past March in Florida. His upcoming clash with Inoue marks his first pro fight in the Far East, although hardly his first time away from home given his rich amateur career which has taken him around the world.
"Payano is a skillful mover with good experience, and it might (become) a tactical fight," Inoue notes. "I (plan) to fight patiently and finally catch up with him to score a knockout victory.”