Back on January 14th Takuma Inoue (14-1, 3) [井上拓真] claimed the OPBF Bantamweight title, taking a technical decision win over the hard hitting Keita Kurihara (15-6, 13) [栗原慶太] at Korakuen Hall. Typically after a win like that a fight takes some time to rest, recover and recharge the batteries. Surprisingly however Inoue is already back in training, with reports coming out Japan that he only took 3 days rest before starting road work, and begin preparing for his next bout, whenever that might be.
Not only did Inoue begin road work after just a few days rest, but today he was back in the gym, and actually back in the ring, as be took part in his first fully fledged spar since the Kurihara bout. A bout that was just 12 days ago.
Earlier today Inoue sparred 4 rounds with former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (24-3, 21) [松本亮].
Inoue explained that there was no damage from the Kurihara bout, and consulted with his father and trainer Shingo Inoue, before getting straight back in to the gym and beginning on sharpening his tools for when they are next needed.
After the spar Shingo himself spoke about striking when the iron is hot and that the sparring can help Takuma maintain the condition of his previous bout, whilst also saying that today's was a good one.
The return to the gym also seems to have surprised Ohashi gym chairman Hideyuki Ohashi, who's quoted in the Nikkan Sports stating that Takuma's quick returned showed "a terrifying aspiration."
As for why Takuma has returned to the gym so early, he, himself, is quoted as saying "I want to try again to win world title by the end of the year." Getting back in the gym, staying ready and being prepared for an opportunity is often half the battle for a fighter, and it's great to see such determination from Takuma, who obviously wants to hold a title at the same time as his older brother, Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥], the reigning WBA "super", IBF and Ring Magazine Bantamweight champion.
On October 31st we'll get the chance to see the "Monster" return as Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] defends his WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight titles against Australian challenger Jason Moloney (21-1, 18) in Las Vegas.
The bout, which will be Inoue's Las Vegas and Top Rank debut, but not his US debut, is the final big bout of October and one of the most anticipated lower weight bouts of the year.
Today Inoue left Japan, heading to the US where he will quarantine and put final touches to his preparation for the upcoming contest.
Before leaving Japan, along with his father and trainer Shingo Inoue, brother, Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3) [井上拓真] and cousin, Koki Inoue [浩樹井上], he spoke with the media at Haneda airport.
At the airport Inoue revealed he wasn't sure of how many rounds of sparring he had done in total for Moloney, but did admit it was less than usual. However he added that he been sparring for Casimero earlier in the year and has amassed a lot of sparring this year.
As for his condition he stated it was the same as usual, and that he isn't feeling stressed about not fighting recently, stating that the important thing was recovering from injuries, and that he feels it's only really been half a year since he last fought. In regards to his it appears it's completely on line with what he and his team were expecting.
In regards to fighting in Las Vegas he has revealed there's no anxiety about his Las Vegas debut, and spoke about his previous fights on the road, having fought in Glasgow and LA. It also appears he's not too bothered about a lack of crowd, something he's strangely experienced from outside of the ring having attended fan-less events as part of the Ohashi Gym earlier in the year.
(Image credit - Ohashi Gym)
At the end of the month WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] will be stood in a ring, in Nevada defending his titles against Australian challenger Jason Moloney (21-1, 18). What few are perhaps aware of is that he's still, currently, in Japan.
Earlier today Inoue took part in his last sparring session at the Ohashi Gym, as he sparred with youngster Keisuke Matsumoto (1-0, 1) [松本圭佑].
Following the session Inoue sent a message to the media through promoter Hideyuki Ohashi explaining:
"I was able to finish the final sparring with convincing results. This time it is an unknown world with no spectators in Las Vegas, but I am very excited" [Translated]
Inoue's father, and trainer, Shingo Inoue also commented to the media stating:
""I've been practicing the best. The content is perfect with attack power, defense, speed of entry and exit. Just enter Las Vegas to adjust weight and relieve fatigue. The sparring was also good," [Translated]
Inoue and team will leave Japan tomorrow, and will head straight to quarantine in the US ahead of the Moloney bout. He will be accompanied by his brother, Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3) [井上拓真], who will be there for last minute in Las Vegas, and by cousin Koki Inoue [浩樹井上], who will reportedly be in the US for companionship.
For those wondering, Inoue has had a PCR test, and it has come back negative.
(Image below courtesy of Ohashi Gym)
Yesterday Top Rank announced their line up of shows for October, with a show set for October 31st that would pit Japanese star Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] against Australian Jason Moloney (21-1, 18), with Inoue to defend his IBF and WBA "Super" titles at Bantamweight.
Since that announcement by Top Rank two things have happened in Japan.
The most notable of those was an online press conference today by Inoue, along with his promoter Hideyuki Ohashi and his trainer and father Shingo Inoue.
At the event today Inoue stated that he was ready to fight and that he had "been preparing for the match anytime." He added that he had a "desire to do it in April, but I was a little worried whether I could tackle it by finishing it to 100% myself, including the condition of the injured eye. It was postponed and I was able to challenge the match in perfect condition."
That injury in question is the eye injury he suffered last November against Nonito Donaire in the World Boxing Super Series final. The injury had threatened to be a problem for an April date, and hadn't looked 100% in the images of him training in the weeks before that bout was postponed due to the on going global situation.
Speaking about Moloney, Inoue stated "He's tough and has stamina. I think he's a highly skilled player....Overall, he is a fighter who is higher than Casimero, I think it's a dangerous opponent unless I take counter measures in the next month and a half." Interestingly that was pretty much echoed by Ohashi, who also seemed to suggest that Moloney was a better boxer than Casimero, and that he was harder to break down than the Filipino.
Whether they believe that or they are trying to hype up Moloney is unclear, but the Australian is certainly no push over and is very much a live challenger.
In regards to the importance of the match Inoue stated "It's been eight years since I made my professional debut, and I think it's eight years from now to the goal. It's a turning point. You can think of this as the second chapter. Departing from Las Vegas, we'll have a good fight there"
One of the big differences from other recent Inoue bouts, at least in terms of preparation, will be the sparring. In the past Inoue has brought over international sparring partners from the US, UK, Philippines, and China, among other countries. Due to the travel restrictions that isn't possible here and instead he will have to spar with domestic opponents, giving him a limit on the options of partners to replicate Moloney's style. Another difference is that he plans to get to Las Vegas 2 weeks before the event, and training, weight loss etc will be done in Japan. It needs to be remembered that there is, for obvious reasons, a bubble in Las Vegas and more of the preparation side of things needs to occur before travelling.
The second thing of note is that WOWOW have announced they will be showing a special Excite Match, talking about Inoue's journey to fighting in Las Vegas. This will feature Joe Koizumi and Hozumi Hasegawa and will be shown on September 13th and September 14th
Inoue’s trainer-father pushed by Team Rodriguez member at Media Workout in Glasgow!
Things got heated between Team Inoue and Team Rodriguez at Tuesday’s workout ahead of Saturday’s sensational WBSS semi-finals at the SSE Hydro; Naoya Inoue vs. Emmanuel Rodriguez and Josh Taylor vs Ivan Baranchyk.
A member of Rodriguez’s team pushed Inoue’s father and trainer, Shingo Inoue when he was taking photos of the Puerto Rican IBF titleholder who performed his training with renowned coach Freddie Roach.
“It was an open workout so naturally I was taking pictures and using the phone. A guy came over, after staring down at us from the ring, and said I couldn’t do it and pushed me aside. That was very ungentlemanlike,” said Shingo Inoue after his son’s workout.
“The two fighters who have actually trained for this that’s what we are here to see and who is the better fighter. Outside of the ring, nothing needs to be hostile.”
Tensions were running high, but Team Inoue is not going to use it as fuel in Saturday’s semi-final.
“I don’t think of those petty things and get emotional. It’s between Inoue and Rodriguez and that’s what they are here for. Let them work it out,” concluded The Ring Magazine’s ‘2018 Trainer of the Year’.
Team Rodriguez didn’t stay to watch Inoue’s workout, but the champion himself was in a good and talkative mood after his session. And he made it clear that he is in Scotland to make a statement.
“We are going to shut some mouths,” said Rodriguez referring to Inoue being called the favourite by press and boxing fans. “I am going to take it round by round and in the end, I will win either by KO or decision.”
Naoya Inoue didn’t see the incident with his father, but he was oozing self-confidence and fully focused on the task ahead of him.
“I am in great shape, I can’t wait for the fight. I am going to knockout Rodriguez on Saturday,” said the WBA champion. “I can’t predict the round, but I am going for the KO and it will happen sooner or later. I know what everyone is expecting from me.”
Tickets for the Monster WBSS Semi-Finals night, Ivan Baranchyk vs Josh Taylor and Naoya Inoue vs Emmanuel Rodriguez on 18 May at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland are on sale now from TheSSEHydro.com
All the action will be live on DAZN in the U.S. and Sky Sports in the U.K.
WBSS Season 2 Semi-Finals:
27 April - Cajundome, Lafayette, LA, USA
Regis Prograis vs Kiryl Relikh - Prograis W TKO6
Nonito Donaire vs Stephon Young - Donaire W KO6
18 May - The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland
Josh Taylor vs Ivan Baranchyk
Naoya Inoue vs Emmanuel Rodriguez
15 June - Arena Riga, Riga, Latvia
Mairis Briedis vs Krzysztof Glowacki
Yunier Dorticos vs Andrew Tabiti
(Image courtesy of World Boxing Super Series)
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