I’ll leave it to you to decide which one of us is which, but the TQBR boys are back for an interrogation session about the previous weekend’s goings-on, so with no further ado, light a smoke, gimp down the sidewalk and get to reading you sonsabitches.
- Naoya Inoue was clearly created in a lab by a team of mad scientists and witch doctors. How good is he? And what most impressed you about his performance yesterday?
Brent: I would need six tongues and a Plutonian thesaurus to properly pronounce the words to describe how impressive he is. The power is startling but it’s the precision that leaves you breathless. When he had Emmanuel Rodriguez dead to rights Inoue threw a depth charge of a right hand that landed on the right side of his opponent’s belly, a punch that looked as physically perplexing as that description sounds. He’s a living cheat code. The result of mankind’s scientific hubris. He technically shouldn’t exist.
Swain: I will echo what Brent said. I honestly have no fucking clue how good he is because no one has tested him, which is an answer in and of itself. It’s not just that he can punch like a giant on bath salts. He’s insanely quick, ridiculously accurate, and the variety of his offense is like if you let clones of Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson pitch to little leaguers. At the same time. The kid is gonna swing and miss badly, probably taking one to the dome that puts him on dream street in the process.
Starks: I’m absolutely not going to piss on this deserved lovefest, but what Matthew said there — “no one has tested him” — is key. He’s beaten some awfully good fighters. Has he beaten a great one? I think we have to reserve conclusive answers about “How good is he” until the answer to that question is “Yes.” I believe, don’t get me wrong. Just saying. Also, I’m reminded that it totally sucks we never got Inoue in there against Roman Gonzalez before the latter exited his peak. As for what impressed me the most: Pretty much every time someone hurts his opponent to the head, all the trainers and former boxers advise they then move to the body. How often does that happen, though? Inoue did it perfectly and showed why it’s a very good idea.
Jason: I feel like I’ve made myself perfectly clear, but just in case, here goes: I’ve had sex that wasn’t as enjoyable as watching an Inoue fight. It’s true. And here’s the thing: I like sex! Sex is great. Hell, even bad sex is pretty fucking awesome. Ergo, Inoue is better than sex. What if we all surrendered to this new knowledge? What if, blessedly, we began redirecting our most primal urges only to Inoue? Instead of boning, we’d spend all our waking hours watching YouTube highlights of the Monster blowing up fools. Now, just stop and think about what that really means: We would instantly and forever cure STDs. We’d stem the rising population problem. We’d solve world hunger! What impresses me most about Naoya Inoue? I’ll tell you what: that it is he who will bring us peace on Earth.
- Based on what we’ve seen from both in this World Boxing Super Series tournament, do you give Nonito Donaire a shot against Inoue in the final?
Brent: Roughly one year ago I made a bet that if Donaire made it to the finals and beat Inoue I would punch my mother square in the face. Without fully showing my hand here I’ll just say that I expect her face to remain just as beautiful and unpunched as ever. I love Nonito and his power can bail him out of any fight but I can’t see a path to him winning or really even being competitive against the monster.
Swain: Nonito’s left hook has hurt featherweights, so anything is possible, but I’m not giving him much of a shot. Even if Inoue didn’t have tear a hole in the space-time continuum power, he’s just a much better fighter than Donaire at this point. Inoue in his absolute physical prime, and Donaire is 36. That’s roughly 1124 in bantamweight years.
Starks: Nah. Not a realistic one, anyway. And I have a soft spot for Nonito because of this whole weird thing from long ago.
Jason: Donaire is as nice a guy as you’ll find in boxing, and perhaps his mini-renaissance at bantamweight still has some legs. But here are the facts: Donaire is 36. He has lost four of his past 13 fights. He arguably hasn’t beaten an elite opponent since Toshiaki Nishioka … in 2012. He may have been ill-suited for featherweight, but that explains the loss to Carl Frampton — not the stinker against Jessie Magdaleno at 122. If Donaire has discovered the elixir to beat a prime Inoue, then by god, I’ll have what he’s having. I just think we’ll be pouring one out for him instead.
- Josh Taylor vs Ivan Baranchyk was a great deal of fun, even if it was somewhat one-sided. What’s Taylor’s greatest strength in your mind? And how fucking great is Taylor vs Regis Prograis going to be?
Brent: Taylor vs Prograis is pugilistic pornography. Nothing separates the two on paper and aside from Taylor’s length (#pause) I don’t see anyone glaring advantage for either guy. I was incredibly impressed with his chin on Saturday. He took some shots from Baranchyk that would’ve dropped an elephant and walked right through them. He’s a beautiful beast and the WBSS continues to do every single fucking thing right.
Swain: Taylor is a really interesting case. He only has 15 fights, but he’s 28. Normally guys who come to the sport that late are technically deficient, but he’s not at all. His craft is absolutely gorgeous. He’s smooth, relaxed, defensively responsible, offensively varied, oh yeah and he’s also tall as hell and has plenty of power in both hands. People tend to downplay his power because he is such a good technician, but he’s throwing bricks in there. And he’s all fighter. I figured Taylor and Prograis would make the finals, and I’m thrilled they both did. That’s a Gar Samuelson drum solo of a fight, which means it’ll be fast, technical, and absolutely fucking awesome.
Starks: A similar point to Swain’s: I like that he’s somehow simultaneously patient and aggressive offensively. He just seems to have a knack for picking the right moment. Taylor-Prograis will be excellent, of course — it’s one of the best fights that can be made that I can even think of, and it’s going to happen. Hallelujah. Let’s see if Taylor can keep that patient decisionmaking with Prograis coming at him like a German Shepherd on meth.
Jason: When he’s locked in, Taylor’s movement is really impressive. He commanded range brilliantly for much of the Baranchyk fight, and his ease fighting inside was overlooked on the stream. Frampton kept pleading with his buddy to stay on the outside in the second half of the fight, but Taylor, despite his length, did his best work Saturday when he bodied up Baranchyk. He was a bullfighter, drawing the Beast closer, using his momentum against him and striking at angles Baranchyk couldn’t defend. Can’t wait to see how Taylor’s style will mesh with Prograis’.
- Dominic Breazeale isn’t much, but Deontay Wilder’s power is cartoon level violent. On a scale of one to being legally adopted by Gravedigger, how clenched did your taint get when that bomb landed?
Brent: As I covered in my recap, Wilder has no genuine personality to speak of but to be honest he might not need one. I’m almost willing to put up with his comically fruitless attempt to fabricate a persona if the result is the ACME level of violence he can provide. It’s not pretty and it’s bereft of almost any technical skill but who gives a shit? We’re all pigs and cavemen and just give me my god damn savagery wholesale and uncut. The taint clenching reached “police dogs at the airport stopping at your suitcase and signaling to their handler” levels.
Swain: On that scale, I’ll go “‘Judge Judy’ booty calling me at 5 pm on a Wednesday.” Hit me up, your Honor. That was a sloppy, relatively meaningless fight, but sometimes pleasure is a justification in itself. I personally find Wilder mind-bendingly tedious as a human being, and I profoundly dislike watching him fight, but goddamn. The only thing missing from that KO was RoadRunner saying “Beep Beep.”
Starks: This sounds crazy to say out loud. Here goes anyway: Wilder might be in the top handful of most naturally powerful heavyweights ever. The record says so, of course, even though some of those guys were sub-bum level opponents. He caught Breazeale clean but he doesn’t have to in order to score knockouts. He’s a little like the Key & Peele sketch where the protagonist casually breaks everyone’s necks even when he’s not trying.
Jason: It wasn’t all that long ago, remember, that Wilder fought every moment of every fight like a wind turbine on skates. So to watch him set up his screaming right hand with a nifty little jab feint before sending Breazeale to a previously undiscovered circle of hell was legitimately encouraging. I’ll pass on the double-jointed prefight freakshows and Malificent-inspired ringwalk get-ups, but as long as Wilder is throwing smoke, he can have as many of my Saturday nights as he’s willing to suit up for.