Some people remember Hiroaki Inoue’s dramatic knockout of Ryan Coyne in the first round of their heavyweight World Boxing Association eliminator in Tokyo in 2012. But the damage done to the American fighter’s psyche has yet to heal.
There are details.
In the first, Inoue was taken down by a roundhouse kick to the body and then a massive blow to the head. Fortunately for Coyne, the referee was not aggressive but instead observed the punches and counted them off. Still, two shots to the head with his back against the ropes must have made Coyne’s vision blur like Ben Horne’s when he was dropped by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2007.
Said Coyne: “It was so frustrating, because you’re competing against someone who’s very similar to you. We’re both always trying to be perfect. Then to get run over, get punished like that in two seconds, it’s hard to understand how you do the sport. It’s not that I didn’t lose to a good fighter, it’s that I lost to a bad fighter.”
When Inoue beat Coyne, it marked the beginning of an Olympic commitment, and then a spring training and summer training stint in Florida. Upon returning to Tokyo, he promptly dominated Hikaru Hosono of Japan in three rounds before losing a six-round technical decision to Murat Gassiev in his first bout of 2015.
But there was something missing.
Inoue was not dominating anyone. His 19-fight unbeaten streak was over. He was likely not going to get a title shot for some time to come.
“It was frustrating because there wasn’t any victory,” Inoue said. “My goal this year was to stay undefeated and get into the rankings, but I didn’t achieve my goal. I was happy to be back in the gym. I had worked hard for eight months. But I was the underdog against a very good boxer.”