Whilst Japanese superstar and current WBC Light Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (6-0, 5) may be expected to see off upcoming challenger Samartlek Kokietgym (17-4, 5) with ease on September 5th he's not been taking his preparation lightly. In fact his sparring partners so far have been a relative who's who of Japanese boxing.
Less than 2 weeks ago Inoue was sparring with Tetsuma Hayashi. The two men spent 6 rounds together sharing very high quality work. Just 2 days later Inoue was in the ring with Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe. The work with Tobe saw Inoue needing to adapt to neutralise a significant reach disadvantage and actually had adversity to cope with.
The same week Inoue also sparred with former world title challenger Takuya Kogawa in what would have been a fantastic session for anyone lucky enough to have watched it.
This past Friday saw Inoue returning to high level sparring as he shared 6 rounds in the ring with former OPBF Bantamweight champion Hiroki Shiino. Shiino, a huge puncher at Bantamweight, spent 6 rounds with Inoue and the young Inoue focused on using his speed rather than trading with the very strong Shiino.
Strangely the height difference between these two was startlingly little given that there are several division between the two men.
A day after sparring with Shiino, Inoue returned to sparring and shared the ring with Japanese Flyweight champion Suguru Muranaka in a very good 6 rounder that saw Inoue focusing on footwork, movement and speed. Muranaka wouldn't have been taking things easy and would have used the session to prepare himself for the next defence of his title, scheduled for October 4th.
Ranked by all 4 world bodies Muranaka likely has his eyes on a future world title fight at Flyweight. A session with Inoue would have done him the world of good.
From what we understand, and in correction to something we wrote in the Hayashi piece, Inoue hasn't yet sparred with IBF Minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama. Their spar will take place this coming week, though we've not been informed what day.
(Images, with Inoue and Shiino above and Inour and Muranaka right, are both courtesy of Naoya Inoue's blog)
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