Severe dehydration, a disdain for tattoos and a cultural shock, Rendall Munroe on fighting in Japan

With Jamie McDonnell set to battle Naoya Inoue in Japan this Friday, Rendall Munroe reveals the good and the bad about fighting in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Munroe, from Leicester, challenged WBC super-bantamweight world champion Toshiaki Nishioka, back in October, 2010, and fell to a decision defeat, so we caught up with ‘The Boxing Binman’ to give us an insight into what Doncaster’s McDonnell is up against…

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Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass So, was it a big difference fighting in Japan?

It wasn’t different for me, my mentality was just to go out there and do what I do, a ring is a ring, I didn’t suffer from jet-lag or anything like that.

The only difference was the humidity, in the fight after round five or six, my body wasn’t feeling right, I was a second or two short of myself.

Did you notice a massive culture change?

Just seeing how life is so different over there was the main thing. Like Jamie, I fought in Tokyo and everything was so clean and the people really polite.

There’s always a good and bad side to everywhere but the way they respect each other and do things out there, it really was a wonderful place.

And did you try the food?

I’m a fussy eater so I never eat things unless I know what it is! But I wasn’t really out there long enough anyway, I stuck to what I know.

How did locals react to you out there?

I was in brilliant shape so when I did my public workout, someone said ‘take your top off’ to show you mean business. As soon as I took it off, the cameras all stopped and I didn’t know what was going on.

It was because of my tattoos…Over there, it is a tribal thing to have tattoos, and it’s not good. Unless you’re in a tribe or gang over there, you don’t have tattoos. If a boxer has one, they’re not allowed to fight, even if they have small tattoos – it’s as simple as that!

I think people were shocked. They don’t know me but, to them, they see a gangster or something along those lines. It was all a bit surreal.

What was the atmosphere like on fight night?

One of the shocks for me was when you fight, as soon as the bell goes, there’s no noise in the arena. When it breaks, everyone claps and cheers and then, after a minute, silence. My fans were the only ones making noise.

We had visited the arena a few days before and a concert was going on, but everyone was so reserved and polite, they was no push or shove at all.

Your defeat to Nishioka, what went wrong?

Frankly, humidity is what affected me. I started decent, as I always do, and then, in the fifth round, when it was time to up the gears, I felt cramp in both my calves. I didn’t know what was going on. My calves felt they were ripping and I was off the pace from then.

I was disappointed after the fight, it was a missed opportunity. I was adamant I wasn’t going to get stopped but, in hindsight, if I had got stopped, I would have got more world title opportunities after.

So was you badly dehydrated?

I had to have a wee sample afterwards and, when I did, my urine was black. It’s never, ever, happened before but the doctor said it was serious dehydration.

It all came back to the humidity and the amount of water I’m used to drinking in England, you have to drink a lot more over there. Everything was fine until the fight.

Do Japanese fighters have a different style?

Their style is about being sharp and light on your feet. They hit hard but it’s not a thudding, stinging hit. It’s not about how hard you punch, it’s the punch you don’t see that does the damage.

Nishioka was like lightening, he didn’t hit hard, but it was like getting hit by six men at once. He didn’t hit harder than anyone else I’ve boxed, it was just the amount of punches that were coming at me.

What advice would you give Jamie McDonnell?

There was so much respect over there, no rowdiness or fan abuse or anything, so just go and be Jamie McDonnell.

I used to spar with Jamie in the early days, he is massive for bantamweight and uses all his attributes to the best of his ability. He uses his range and isn’t afraid to get hit, it’s why he’s one of the world’s best.

Your final prediction for McDonnell-Inoue?

I don’t think it will be easy, but Jamie has proved everyone wrong a few times now and he can do it again. Styles make fights.

He’s a very big lad for 8st 6lbs, can he keep doing it? Every boxer dreams of being a world champion, once you’ve done that, it’s about making money. Is he looking at it as a payday? If we win, it’s a bonus, lose and we can move up. I hope he does it.

Watch Jamie McDonnell, in Tokyo, on Friday, May 25, from 1pm, live on Sky Sports Action before Kal Yafai takes on David Carmona in the early hours of Sunday morning, from 2.30am, on Sky Sports Action.