Just a few short weeks ago we saw Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (23-0, 20) [井上 尚弥] unify the WBA "Super", IBF, WBC and Ring Magazine Bantamweight titles as he stopped Nonito Donaire (41-7, 27) in 2 rounds. Since then talk of his future has focused on facing WBO champion Paul Butler (34-2, 15) to unify all of the Bantamweight world titles.
Today Inoue took part in a public work out, and an event with the Japanese media,at the Ohashi Gym along with promoter Hideyuki Ohashi.
The event saw Ohashi talk business, and explain that the purse money for Inoue's next bout will be the "highest amount in history", though it seems that's in regards to Inoue's personal pay as opposed to the highest amount in boxing history, though it may related to the highest in the history of the Bantamweight division. Inoue, talking about money, explained that he wanted the money to give his children a dream, and it was a rare case of a Japanese fighter talking about money, which is something we very rarely see in Japan.
At the event it was also revealed that negotiations are underway for the Inoue Vs Butler bout, with the plan being for the contest to take place towards the end of the year. Though at the moment there isn't a deal set for the bout, with talks of the bout potentially taking place in Japan, the US or the UK. To prepare for the bout Ohashi is planning to bring in European sparring partners for Inoue, though they won't be brought over until the bout has been decided.
The only venue ruled out for the bout is the Tokyo Dome, though Ohashi did state he was wanting Inoue to fight in the iconic venue, that last held boxing back in 1990, for Mike Tyson's bout with James "Buster" Douglas.
On the subject of preparing for the bout, Inoue explained that he is looking to find challenges in training, and maintain his weight. Notably he has been doing physical training with former 3 weight world Akira Yaegashi, who is working to develop Inoue to become even more of a monster.
As for his work out today, it was around 40 minutes in front of the media, with Inoue shadow boxing, hitting the mitts and hitting the heavy bag.
Earlier today Hideyuki Ohashi revealed his latest huge signing, as he officially announced that former Japanese amateur standout Toramasa Imanaga [今永虎雅] had signed with the Ohashi Gym, and was ending his amateur carer after 126 bouts in the unpaid ranks. As an amateur Imanaga ran up an excellent record, going 113-13 (26), whilst winning 10 major amateur titles, including success National Selection tournaments, Inter High School Championships, and National Athletic Meets, and the Taipei International Tournament.
As a professional Imanaga is expected to be fighting as a Lightweight, and will be having his career guided by some of the most notable men in Japanese boxing. Ohashi will be his promoter, he will be trained by former world champion Akira Yaegashi and former world title challenge Koji Matsumoto.
Imanaga explained that he toured several gyms, and was happy to see what was out there for him before turning professional, though it appeared that the Ohashi Gym was always going to be one of the front runners for his signature, given their talent pool, training facilities and the doors the gym can open for him. It's worth noting that whilst he was impressed you the Ohashi set up, Mr Ohashi was also impressed by Imanaga, with Ohashi explaining that Imanaga had a powerful punch and good defense. He also explained that the target for Imanaga is a world title title, and that he wants to get Imanaga a Japanese ranking by the end of the year.
The plan for Imanaga is to take part in his B class protest on April 26th before making his debut in late June, on a yet to be announced Ohashi card, likely in a 6 rounder at or around the Lightweight limit.
As well as Imanaga it was also announced that Ohashi had signed 22 year Yuya Tanaka [田中湧也] and 17 year old Kenta Yamakawa [山川健太], who will both be expected to have very bright futures in the sport, under the guidance of Ohashi.
Ohashi shares Inoue plans
Back in December Naoya Inoue (22-0, 19) [井上 尚弥] scored his latest defense of the WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight titles, as he stopped Thai challenger Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11) [แก่นนคร ศักดิ์กรีรินทร์]. Today Inoue's promoter, Hideyuki Ohashi, spoke about his star man and the outlook for 2022.
One of the subjects at hand for Ohashi was the success of the Inoue Vs Dipaen bout on PPV. The bout, one of the very few notable bouts to be aired on PPV in Japan and Ohashi didn't give away the but did talk about the success of the event. Stating "I can't tell you the number of viewers," but "It exceeded my goal. It's a passing score."
Inoue was planning to be in the ring in April, though Ohashi did admit that plan may be forced to change, as the Cornonavirus situation in Japan is hard to predict. He stated that Inoue is in training, but the date of his return may need to be pushed back.
Interestingly Ohashi admitted they haven't contacted an opponent for Inoue's next bout, but he is hoping to land either Nonito Donaire or John Riel Casimero.
The most interesting quote from Ohashi however was the plan for the end of the year, explaining "I think we will move to the super bantamweight class by the end of the year,". It's unclear who Inoue and his would be targetting for his end of year bout, but it's interesting that Ohashi seems to be planning that move already and it's fair to say he will be looking to secure a solid opponent for Inoue's first bout at 122lbs, even if he can't land a reigning champion.
Earlier today Hideyuki Ohashi helped a press conference and announced his next big show, which we now know will be a world title double header and December 14th at the Ryogoku Kokugikan. He confirmed one bout which had been widely reported over the last couple and gave us a bonus, with a second world title bout being confirmed.
The bout we knew about was the clash between WBA and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) [井上 尚弥] and Thai fighter Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11) [แก่นนคร ศักดิ์กรีรินทร์], which was first reported by Komthai 2 weeks ago. The bout is certainly not a special bout, and should be a contest that Inoue wins without any real problems, but it's nice to see him being active, being back in the ring for a second fight this year and ticking over. It's also good to see him back in a Japanese ring for the first time since November 2019, when he beat Nonito Donaire in the WBSS Bantamweight final.
At the press conference Ohashi stated that he had hoped to get Inoue a unification bout with either John Riel Casimero or Nonito Donaire for this December bout, but was thwarted by their mandatory obligations. He also suggested that that they had tried to secure bouts with Rau'shee Warren, Gary Antonio Russell and Nikolai Potapov, but those had failed to materialise, and had essentially taken Dipaen as the best ranked contender who was available and willing to face Inoue. Whilst this will be Inoue's first bout in Japan for more than two years, it will also see him returning to the Ryogoku Kokugikan for the first time in around 8 years, with the venue being the one where he claimed the OPBF Light Flyweight title in 2013 with a win over Jerson Mancio.
It should be noted that Inoue and Ohashi have both previously suggested he will be getting a "big bout" in April 2022 in Japan.
The other world title bout will be a WBO Minimumweight title bout between defending champion Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6) and his mandatory challenger Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9) [谷口将隆]. The two men were meant to have purse bids on October 27th, but they were cancelled at the 11th hour as the teams had agreed a deal, a deal that will see them being on this card.
For Mendez the bout will be his third defense, and his first bout of any kind since beating Gabruel Mendoza back in February 2020. As for Taniguchi he's been in form and will be hoping to make the most of his second world title shot. Of the two men Mendez is probably the better pure boxer, and is quick, slippery fighter, but fighting in Japan for the first time, with the crowd against him and a long lay off, he will really be up against it here.
Also set for this card Yoshiki Takei (2-0, 2) [武居由樹], Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) [松本圭佑] and Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) [石井渡士也].
This past weekend we saw unified Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) [井上 尚弥] retain his WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight titles as he stopped IBF mandatory challenger Michael Dasmarinas (30-3-1, 20) in 3 rounds, thanks in part to some brutal body shots. Today he and his team, including his father Shingo, brother Takuma and promoter Hideyuki Ohashi, arrived back in Japan.
When they arrived back in Japan Ohashi revealed that their was an announcement on on the plane, explaining that Inoue himself was aboard, with the announcement praising him for his performance at the weekend.
Inoue himself gave comments to the media, explaining "I was able to return to Japan safely after the second bout in Las Vegas. The support of the fans who watched the game on TV from Japan helped me to win with the content I was satisfied with. I was able to do it. Thank you very much.
I couldn't sleep much on the return flight, but I was able to spend a comfortable time. In the future, I plan to rest my body during the two-week quarantine period and move my body after the period.
The immediate goal is to unify the four bantamweight groups. In the future, I would like to set the standard for Donaire and Casimero and devote myself so that anyone can show Naoya Inoue's boxing"
The men will now all have to go through a 2 week isolation period, as is expected of those entering Japan at the moment. It seems the "Monster" plans to take those 2 weeks to rest his body, which may not be a bad idea, before resuming training after the isolation period.
(Image credit - Ohashi Gym)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!