Since that win little has really been set in stone about Inoue's next bout. The fighter was quoted as saying he wanted to fight the best, there was hints that his team were going to try and set up a unification bout and there was even an announcement by the WBO that Inoue would have to defend against mandatory challenger McJoe Arroyo (16-0, 8).
When the WBO made that announcement we were, admittedly, rather excited about the unbeaten showdown between Inoue and Arroyo. Sadly that bout has seemingly come off the table after Joe Koizumi made a complaint to the WBO regarding Arroyo's ranking, which had mysteriously jumped 11 places prior to the WBO's announcement. After Koizumi's complaint Arroyo fell to #5.
What we do know it is will come before summer, barring an injury to Inoue. That is as concrete as things have come, with everything else being little more than rumour or speculation.
One of the more recent rumours is that Inoue will face his #1 contender, a heavy handed Filipino fighter known to Japanese fans as "WARS Katsumata".
WARS, real name Warlito Parrenas (23-6, 20) was penciled in to fight Ireland's unbeaten Jamie Conlan (13-0, 8) on February 28th. That bout was on the calendar until about a week ago when Conlan was forced to pull out of the bout with flu and essentially freed up Parrenas. There is hope from Conlan's team that that bout could be rescheduled though our source has indicated that Parrenas's availability has sounded the alarm bells at the Ohashi gym and that they may try to negotiate a bout between Parrenas and Inoue for April.
What makes the bout particularly interesting is that Parrenas was relatively popular when he was fighting in Japan. In fact Parrenas has fought 7 times in Japan, with all those bouts coming in little more than 19 months. Those 7 bouts saw him running up an impressive record of 6-1 (6), with his sole loss coming to Oscar Blanquet, Fans who saw him in Japan beating the likes of Atsuhi Kakutani (KO1) or Tomoya Kaneshiro (KO6) will likely remember him for his power, aggression and excitement. Some of those fans may also have seen him beat Koji Itagaki (Rtd1) at the Yano Fitness Center in Zama, Kanagawa. That would particularly notable as Zama was where Inoue was born, and he still lives in Kanagawa prefecture.
If this rumour turns out to be true and Inoue is matched with Parrenas it would be the first time Inoue would have been in with a vaunted puncher and it could give us a clear indication of whether or note Inoue has the chin and toughness to match his sensational skills. One thing we've not really seen is Inoue face is a "Chin Check" and if he passes that test then expectation of a super fight between the Japanese youngster and Nicaraguan sensation Roman Gonzalez (41-0, 35) becomes even more exciting.
(Image courtesy of Hideyuki Ohashi's blog)