Naoya Inoue: The Mini Monster
By Jack Price
Japanese boxing sensation Naoya Inoue is most likely not a name that many people know worldwide. Even a lot of the casual boxing fans may not have heard of him because he campaigns at the very low end of the weight divisions in the sport, but with the hardcore fans of the pugilistic art he is becoming a bit of a star, and for good reason.
The man nicknamed ‘Monster’ is just 26, but has already won world titles in three separate weight divisions and has climbed in to almost every pound-for-pound top 10 list there is out there. If he continues to dominate his opponents in the way he is currently then it won’t be long until he’s competing with the likes of Canelo, Lomachenko, Crawford & Usyk for that No.1 spot.
Inoue isn’t just a technically sound boxer he also hits freakishly hard for a man of his size with 15 knock outs out of his 17 victories and 8 of them coming inside 4 rounds. Some people believe the lower weight classes in boxing are boring because you don’t see a lot of KO’s, but that isn’t the case with Inoue. He always brings excitement, which is why hopefully more people will start to take note of him the more we see him in the ring.
Inoue is currently fighting at bantamweight, having started at light-flyweight, skipping flyweight and then jumping up to super-fly before moving into the 118lb division. So far he’s had two fights at the weight and he won both via 1st round KO against two solid contenders in Jamie McDonnell and Juan Carlos Payano, showing that he’s only getting stronger as he moves up in weight.
His next fight comes this weekend in the semi finals of the World Boxing Super Series tournament and he faces arguably the toughest test of his career against Emmanuel Rodriguez, the IBF bantamweight world champion.
An impressive win here will not only make a big statement but will also see him become unified champion at 118lb and progress into the final of the prestigious tournament.
I do expect Inoue to get past Rodriguez and make it to the final, which sets up an exciting match-up with experienced veteran Nonito Donaire.
Although the 36-year old Donaire is considered to be slightly past his best he still has more than a bit about him. The Filipino is an incredible 5-weight world champion and has achieved more than most in the sport. He’s in good form right now as well coming off two KO wins so we’ll hopefully see Inoue tested at least early on.
Inoue is a huge favourite to win the Muhammad Ali trophy though and it would be a massive shock to me and every boxing fan out there if that didn’t happen.
The sky is the limit for ‘The Monster’ right now. He’s got the height and size to go up another couple of weights still and he’s still pretty young, leaving him plenty of time to cement his legacy. Hopefully winning the WBSS tournament will make a lot more people hear his name too.