Naoya Inoue crushes Michael Dasmarinas with vicious body shots in Round 3

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 19: WBA/IBF bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue of Japan has his arm raised by referee Russell Mora after stopping Michael Dasmarinas of the Philippines in the third round of their title fight at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on June 19, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

WBA/IBF bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue has his arm raised after stopping Michael Dasmarinas in the third round of their title fight at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on June 19, 2021 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

A superstar is developing in front of our eyes, and he’s doing it with some of the most vicious body punches boxing has seen in years.

Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue landed 17 punches to the body of Michael Dasmarinas in just under three full rounds of fighting Saturday at the Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas. Three of them dropped the game Dasmarinas, with the last one causing referee Russell Mora to wave off the bout at 2:45 of the third.

Inoue retained the IBF and WBA titles with the one-sided win, which made him 21-0 with 18 knockouts. He proved yet again why some think he’s the hardest puncher pound-for-pound in the sport and why he may well be the best overall fighter.

Inoue has no discernible weaknesses, and one of the only reasons he’s not already a massive star in the U.S. is that he weighs 118 pounds and Americans pay attention to bantamweight about as often as the Cubs win the World Series.

This, though, may be the guy to get that to occur. He showed all the tools in the fight with Dasmarinas in addition to his paralyzing power. He’s got quick hands, great feet and an intuitive sense of how to set his punches up.

Dasmarinas was well aware that Inoue was going to go after his ribcage, and kept right elbow tucked to his side as best he could. Inoue still managed to get under it and batter his liver.

He knocked him down first with a body shot — a left to the liver, naturally — late in the second. Dasmarinas went down wincing, in obvious agony. It was the kind of a punch that can momentarily paralyze a fighter and render him or her unable to move for 10 or 15 seconds.

Dasmarinas bravely got up and survived Round 2. But Inoue dropped him midway through the third for the second knockdown and it was clear it was just a matter of time.

Again, Dasmarinas winced and appeared in considerable pain, but he took the count and was up and ready to resume. Mora took pity on him after the third knockdown and wouldn’t let him take those shots any more, halting the carnage.

“I prepare myself to knock them out, whether with a head shot or a body shot,” Inoue said. “I came prepared and to get a win by knockout is good for me.”

Promoter Bob Arum was beaming in the ring as he embraced Inoue. He knows he’s likely to be boxing’s next big thing.

“Naoya Inoue is a unique force of nature inside that ring,” Arum said. “Another incredible performance from ‘The Monster.’ We are seeing a great fighter at work here, and he is only going to get better.”

He’ll likely face the winner of the Aug. 14 bout between Nonito Donaire and John Riel Casimero, who were both ringside, in his next outing.

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