In 2014 we saw Naoya Inoue (8-0, 7) climb through the ranks at an alarming pace. He became the quickest Japanese fighter to a world title in just his 6th bout as a professional, when he beat Adrian Hernandez for the WBC Light Flyweight title, and he became the quickest fighter in history to become a 2-weight world champion, claiming the WBO Super Flyweight title in just his 8th professional bout.
The rise of Inoue has been meteoric though it seems like he's unhappy staying where he is and has already announced the next record he wants. He wants to become the quickest Japanese fighter to unify world titles as he seeks a unification bout for this coming Spring in what would be his 9th professional contest. The Japanese record for unification is 10 bouts, the number it took Kazuto Ioka to unify Minimumweight titles with his win over Akira Yaegashi back in June 2012.
Amazingly it seems that if Inoue manages to unify titles in his next bout he would actually set a world record and not just a Japanese record. As far as we are aware the world record for unification is the 10 bouts that Ioka took to achieve the feat, however Leon Spinks did hold unified titles in just his 8th bout after he beat Muhammad Ali for the WBA and WBC Heavyweight titles.
Although Inoue is targeting this record it could be a difficult record for him to actually get as it seems several champions are likely to be tied up. We know the IBF champion Zolani Tete will be defending against Paul Butler and Kohei Kono does appear to have bouts looming with either Koki Kameda or Norberto Jimenez. That does however leave WBC champion Carlos Cuadras as a very viable opponent for Spring, and with Cuadras being promoted by Teiken the bout may be very easy to make.
If a bout with Cuadras cannot be made it may be possible for the WBA to be "swayed" into allowing Inoue to fight Kono in a unification bout. If that happens it would be only the second ever All-Japanese unification bout, following the Ioka-Yaegashi bout.
(Image courtesy of Hideyuki Ohashi's blog)
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