Takuma Inoue Positioned for Title Fight Should Naoya Inoue Vacate
In the bantamweight division, one brother is about to leave while the other is in a position to benefit from it. Takuma Inoue (17-1, 4KO) could fight for the WBA title against Melvin Lopez, Liborio Solis, or Nonito Donaire despite not campaigning in the division since November 2021. Of course, this is providing his older brother, undisputed champion Naoya “Monster” Inoue (24-0, 21KO), vacates the titles.
On December 13, 2022, Monster became the undisputed champion by defeating Paul Butler for the WBO title. In the post-fight interview, he mentioned going up to super bantamweight.
“I made this path, and now I am considering changing my division to the super bantamweight class.”Naoya Inoue, undisputed bantamweight champion
TAKUMA INOUE IN GOOD TITLE POSITION
This is where things get interesting. Takuma holds the #2 slot with the WBA, although, his last three fights were at the division his brother is moving to. Much like two-division champion Danny Garcia recently being ranked at middleweight, is this “foreshadowing” of Takuma’s move back down to bantamweight? Regardless, with the #1 slot vacant, he is primed to fight for the vacant title when Naoya makes his move.
Takuma Inoue has not captured the same kind of magic as the older brother. In fact, he has lived in the shadow of Naoya’s accomplishments for most of his career.
In 2018, he won the WBC interim title after defeating Tasana Salapat before losing a title shot against Nordine Oubaali for the WBC title in 2019. He has since won four straight fights, earning the opportunity to possibly fight for a title.
A LIST OF POSSIBLE OPPONENTS
When looking at the division, there are a few opponents he could fight for the vacant belt. There is number-three ranked Lopez (29-1, 19KO), who has not lost a fight since 2019 and is on an eight-fight win streak. The Nicaraguan grabbed the vacant WBA Continental belt by a split decision against Jobert Alvarez on December 11, 2022.
Solis (35-6-1, 16KO) is also a possibility, ranked fourth. He is a former WBA ‘regular’ super flyweight champion with a lot of experience. The Venezuelan has shared the ring with former champion’s like Daiki Kameda, Shinsuke Yamanaka, Jamie McDonnell, and Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Donaire (42-7, 28KO) is a familiar name with the Inoue family. Having fought the undisputed champion twice, he is ranked number four and could find himself fighting the younger brother.
Whichever way things unfold, Inoue has a chance to come out of his brother’s shadow to forge his own legacy.
By: Bo Bland