As the WBSS kicks off Season 2’s bantamweight tournament this weekend with a fight between Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue (16-0, 14 KOs) and Juan Carlos Payano (20-1, 9 KOs), Payano says that he has no real worry about being the massive underdog in the fight. Inoue, the 25-year-old phenom out of Japan, is more or less expected to cruise through this tournament in rather dominating fashion.
“I’ve been the underdog several times before and I will continue proving experts wrong. Nobody gave me a shot with any of those guys. I’m going to do what I do and that’s fight. I’ll fight for 12 rounds. I’m not going to go down because he punches hard. If that’s a reason to go down, then I shouldn’t be fighting. You gotta kill me to beat me.”
After going on to say how he’s had a tremendous training camp and that he feels he’s at 110% for this fight, Payano was once again questioned about Inoue’s reptutation for being a tremendous puncher in the lower weight divisions.
“If it’s about hitting hard, then I should’ve lost by now to four other guys who hit hard. I know he can punch. I’m going to exploit the fact that he just wants to punch. If he thinks that I’m going to just lay down, then he’s mistaken. This is 118 pounds. We’re at a different level. We are at the elite level at bantamweight.”
Payano, 34, enters this fight with three straight wins since dropping a majority decision to Rau’shee Warren in mid-2016. Meanwhile Inoue comes into the tournament with all the momentum in the world — an undefeated champion with six consecutive stoppage wins.