After TKO of Donaire, Naoya Inoue is the perfect pound-for-pound fighter on this planet


Naoya Inoue cannot be denied any longer.

Within the wake of Canelo Alvarez’s loss to Dmitry Bivol, and now, Inoue’s second-round TKO of future Corridor of Famer Nonito Donaire on Tuesday in Saitama, Japan, there’s little doubt for my part that “Monster” is the now the pound-for-pound king.

Whereas the Japanese star sliced his means by means of three weight divisions, he acquired little resistance till he met Donaire in ESPN’s 2019 fight of the year. Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs) received that first conflict broad on two scorecards, however suffered a damaged nostril and a fractured proper orbital, the product of Donaire’s heavy punches. Thirty-one months later, Donaire was no match.

The 29-year-old added a 3rd bantamweight title with two knockdowns of Donaire, the final of which prompted the referee to cease the struggle. Donaire, 39, was ESPN’s No. 2 boxer at 118 kilos, and there is loads of separation between him and the third spot (John Riel Casimero).

However at this level, there’s nothing left for Inoue to show at 118 kilos — simply as there wasn’t after he captured titles at 108 kilos and 115.

Inoue mentioned that he “would love to remain on this division” if he can accomplish his objective of changing into undisputed champion this 12 months (Paul Butler has the WBO belt). “But when I am unable to,” Inoue mentioned in translated remarks, “I am able to elevating my division.”

It seems to be a fait accompli Inoue will quickly search to beat the junior featherweight division, the place he figures to face his stiffest competitors but. In any case, nice boxers like Inoue normally aren’t examined till they proceed to maneuver up in weight. Canelo Alvarez is a chief instance of this.

The 112-pound division options higher expertise than Inoue has ever encountered, particularly within the type of Stephen Fulton and Murodjon Akhmadaliev. Each the Philadelphian and the Uzbek are unified champions at 122 kilos.

It is potential Fulton and Akhmadaliev will meet later this 12 months for the undisputed championship. Akhmadleiv should first defend his two titles in opposition to Ronny Rios in a June 25 rematch whereas Fulton took care of enterprise this previous weekend with a call victory over Daniel Roman. A struggle for the undisputed championship on prime time within the U.S. is an effective begin for Inoue on that path to stateside stardom, which ought to proceed with a bout in opposition to both Fulton or Akhmadaliev in the identical sort of coveted TV slot.

“I do not assume it is far-fetched. I imagine it is sensible if [Inoue] comes up in time [before I move to 126 pounds],” Fulton told ESPN last week. “I do not draw back from massive fights. Lots of people wanna see [me vs. Inoue], lots of people wanna speak about that as effectively.”

In fact, a lot should occur earlier than Inoue and Fulton may even enter negotiations, however the matchup would give Inoue the chance to announce his arrival stateside.

Regardless of his success and co-promotional take care of High Rank, Inoue has competed simply 3 times within the U.S. None of these bouts featured the type of top-flight opposition Inoue must turn out to be a star stateside. He additionally fought within the High Rank bubble throughout the pandemic which sadly restricted any big-fight really feel that’s essential for all boxing stars.

Inoue’s first two fights at 118 kilos had been first-round finishes of Jamie McDonnell, a champion, and Juan Carlos Payano, a contender, in Japan. His third struggle was a second-round KO of Emmanuel Rodriguez in Scotland to win one other title. However if you’re preventing within the early-morning hours within the U.S., like he did in opposition to Donaire, it is exhausting to seize consideration from all however essentially the most die-hard of boxing followers.

A lot of Inoue’s lore was constructed on highlights and YouTube. Should you’re an informal follower of the game, he simply could be the best fighter you’ve never heard of.

Together with his scary energy and entertaining model, Inoue undoubtedly has an opportunity to turn out to be a bona fide star within the U.S. The Philippines’ Manny Pacquiao reached superstardom within the States, and whereas it is almost unimaginable to succeed in that stage, Inoue can certainly carve out a reputation for himself on a stage under.

For now, his objective is the undisputed championship, and which means a matchup with England’s Paul Butler, who like the remaining, have little hope in opposition to the “Monster,” the perfect fighter in all of worldwide boxing.

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