They don’t call Japanese boxer Naoya Inoue “The Monster” for nothing.
The WBA and IBF bantamweight world champion is undefeated, with all but three of his wins by knockout – mostly early in the rounds.
Praising one of Asia’s best pound-for-pound active boxers and best since Manny Pacquiao, Inoue has her eyes set on the big moment.
Inoue (21-0, 18 KOs) made his Las Vegas debut last year with a knockout victory over Jason Moloney, which followed a bout in California in 2019.
Signed with Top Rank, Bob Arum’s boxing promotion company, Inoue fought again in Las Vegas this year, knocking out Michael Dasmarinas.
His next fight is scheduled in Japan on December 14, widely seen as a tune-up for a title unification fight in the United States next year.
Inoue therefore intends to please his Japanese fans, who have not seen him in action locally for two years.
When he enters Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s main venue for sumo wrestling, to face Thailand’s Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11 KOs), Inoue must be decked out in red.
The crowd must be a sea of white, the dress code for the evening symbolizing the Japanese flag and the huge hope the nation has on Inoue.
“Every fan is going to have expectations. And I want to challenge and exceed each of their expectations, ”Inoue, 28, told reporters after recently training at the Ohashi Boxing Gym in Yokohama.
Inoue said he is looking forward to fighting John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21 KOs), the WBO bantamweight champion.
The fight, scheduled for last year, has been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Casimero is due to face Briton Paul Butler on Saturday next week.
Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27 KOs), the WBC bantamweight champion, has a fight the same day against Reymart Gaballo.
Inoue defeated Donaire by unanimous decision in 2019, a grueling bout that was voted Best Fight of the Year by the Boxing Writers’ Association of America.
Once his unification mission for bantamweight belts is completed, already three-division world champion Inoue plans to step up in 2023.
However, the former WBC lightweight flyweight champion and former WBO super flyweight champion ignored his reputation.
“I’m not called a home monster,” he said with a smile. “They call me Naoya or Nao.”
Inoue loves to eat yakiniku, or Japanese barbecue, especially beef tongue, and he loves watching horror movies. He loves karaoke.
For Inoue, who started boxing at the age of six, it has always been a family matter. His younger brother, Takuma, is also a professional boxer. Their father, a former amateur boxer, devised training methods for his sons, such as having to push a car with the engine off, or climb a rope that hangs from the second-story veranda of their house.
Naoya Inoue said he never questioned the techniques.
“You probably only rebel when you don’t agree with what’s being done,” he said.
Having married his high school sweetheart, Naoya Inoue is already a father himself.
He has a four-year-old son and two daughters, one two years old and the other a newborn.
His son, Akiha, whom he held in the ring as a baby, shows a keen interest in his father’s fights, but Naoya Inoue isn’t sure he wants him to be a boxer.
“I just hope he can find something he really enjoys doing,” he said.
The best way to be successful is not to stress, he said.
“You can’t continue with this unless you really like it. There can be injuries and risk to your life. It’s a dangerous sport,” said Naoya Inoue. “It’s not something. thing you can do without liking it. “
Naoya Inoue is part of a legacy in Japan, which produced some Hall of Fame members including Yoko Gushiken and Masahiko “Fighting” Harada.
More recently, boxing’s popularity has manifested itself among Japanese women medalists at the Tokyo Olympics.
Boxing gymnasium president and former world champion Hideyuki Ohashi came up with the nickname “kaibutsu” or “monster” when Naoya Inoue turned pro.
He said Naoya Inoue is a cut above any boxer he’s seen – and he’s seen quite a few.
“It’s not one thing or the other, but he excels in all aspects. In boxing, his speed, the power of his punches, his timing. And most importantly, he has mental toughness, ”Ohashi said. “He’s having fun.”
Ohashi said Naoya Inoue is the only boxer he knows who has already decided to retire at 35.
After a rest he said he would move on.
He declined to say what it might be, but for now Naoya Inoue is considering this career path.
“I’m still a long way from the ideal style of boxing I’m pursuing. If I am content now, I will hit a wall when I step up to super bantamweight, ”he said. “I still have a long way to go before I reach my peak, and I still don’t know my true potential. I’m still seven or eight years old as a pro, so I’m going to keep going higher.
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