Naoya Inoue Looking Forward to an Eventual Move Up to Junior Featherweight
Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18 KOs) is a bona fide star. Since winning his first world title at junior flyweight in 2014, the man nicknamed “Monster” has made a lasting imprint on the sport, blasting through the lower-weight divisions. The 28-year-old resident of Yokohoma, Japan also won a world title at junior bantamweight and is currently the unified IBF/WBA ‘super’ world champion bantamweight champ. Universally, he’s regarded as one of the elite fighters in the world. Inoue ranks 4th in the 3KingsBoxingTop Ten Fighters. After accomplishing so much, could there be even more in store?
Inoue’s last outing was an easy third-round knockout over then-mandatory challenger Michael Dasmarinas in June 2021. Afterward, the unified champ stated his goal is to win all four belts at 118 pounds. However, he took to social media and said, while planning to stay at bantamweight in the immediacy, he has eyes on another move up in weight to junior featherweight.
HOW WOULD INOUE FARE AT 122?
Junior Featherweight is a division still in search of a leading man. The three best fighters at 122 pounds are unified IBF/WBA world ‘super’ champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev, WBC champ Brandon Figueroa, and WBO belt-holder Stephen Fulton. Figueroa and Fulton will face each other in a unification showdown on November 27. However, none of those fighters are considered “the man” by pundits and fans.
Akhmadaliev and Fulton are versatile fighters who can box and punch. Fulton is much more of an aggressive, seek-and-destroy warrior. Most experts feel that Inoue would be the favorite over each of those fighters. Akhmadaliev, with his southpaw style, fast hands, and punching, could be one that could give the hard-hitter from Japan his toughest test.
Inoue still has work to complete at 118. He’s talked about facing current WBO world bantamweight world champion John Riel Casimero and a rematch with WBC champion Nonito Donaire. So with more business to take care of at bantamweight, it’s noteworthy he’s already talking about moving up a division. But as the fighter said himself, he will get there when the time comes. It’s a clear warning signal to everyone at 122; the “Monster” is coming!
By: Michael Wilson Jr.