THIS Friday sees the return of one of British boxing’s most accomplished road warriors. Doncaster’s Jamie McDonnell, no stranger to flights, finds himself once again travelling to foreign territory to take on a formidable foe. This time however he comes face to face with a monster. McDonnell has the unenviable task of going to Japan to square off with their very own Naoya “Monster” Inoue. The Japanese starlet has had a blistering career to date. With this contest he aims to win a title in his third weight class. As if this achievement wasn’t special enough, he is aiming to do it in only his 16th professional fight. The diminutive Naoya Inoue has firmly established himself as one of the premier fighters in the world pound-for-pound.

Make no mistakes McDonell has a big task ahead of him but one he is relishing and as WBA ‘regular’ bantamweight champion he cannot be overlooked, regardless of how precocious his talented rival may appear. Here I will discuss five tactics that I feel could see McDonnell topple “The Monster”.

  1. Start fast – against a fighter as formidable as Inoue it is imperative that McDonnell gets off to a good start. This will surely boost his own confidence and perhaps plant the seeds of doubt in the burgeoning pound-for-pound king’s mind. In such a hostile environment Jamie won’t have the support of the fans to help him shift through the gears and claw his way back into the fight if he falls behind. He needs to come out hard and fast thus setting the tone from round one. This leads into point number two.
  2. Gain respect – now this Is easier said than done of course, if it wasn’t we would all be world champions but it’s important that McDonnell doesn’t allow Inoue to just adopt his role as the power punching stalker. He needs to hit hard early and hopefully deter the forward march of the “Monster”. This should not be mistaken with standing and trading for the sake of it. McDonnell has some brilliant movement which he will need to employ for point three.
  3. Use the ring, avoid the ropes – McDonnell is a fighter who has great movement and is very adept at using the ring. He does, however, have periods where he likes to languish on the ropes. This could be potentially critical against a fighter with such a devastating offense arsenal like Inoue. Whether the languishing on the ropes is stamina conserving or purely a lapse in concentration, I hope its been eradicated for this fight.
  4. Use the uppercut – I feel this may be the key punch to the fight. McDonnell throws a tremendous short uppercut when inside and against a fighter like Inoue who is going to look to be inside, this could be fruitful. When I have analysed the fight footage for both men this is where I feel McDonnell can and will have his greatest success. Inoue will present ample opportunity for the uppercut to be thrown, he will be inside, and he will be going to the body often which is a staple of his game. McDonnell must try to take advantage.
  5. Finish strong – as is always the case when you travel behind enemy lines the emphasis will be on finishing strong, closing the show and making the result decisive. McDonnell is travelling to Japan to fight a fighter who is very quickly turning into a national treasure (and for good reason). While he will have no doubts, the judging will be fair, he is under no illusions to expect any favours. If McDonnell has enough left in the tank after his fast start he will need to rally down the stretch and finish the fight strong, put a stamp on what would be a career defining victory.

I am under no illusions, Inoue has looked spectacular. He has beaten all 15 of his professional opponents and only two have heard the final bell. This is not mission impossible however. Jamie McDonnell with his height, reach, natural size advantage, experience and world class ability is not a man to be overlooked. I am eagerly awaiting Friday’s contest. We will either see the crowning of the man thought to be king or the gold stamp on one of the most underrated British boxing careers of recent years.

Naoya Inoue

Aarron Morgan is a professional fighter and personal trainer. Find out more here