On September 4th we'll see Japanese youngster Takuma Inoue (7-0, 2) [井上 拓真] battle in a "world title prelude" against Filipino foe Froilan Saludar (23-1-1, 14). That bout is being fought at a contracted 53KG, which is 116.85lbs, and whilst that might not be too peculiar the WBO latest rankings place the Japanese fighter at Bantamweight which has lead to some interesting speculation and rumour.
Whilst the world title bodies often make mistakes with their rankings, with the WBO once keeping a deceased boxer in their rankings and in fact pushing him up in the rankings, they sometimes change their division upon a request from a promoter, with some suggesting that that's what's happened here. With Takuma not likely to face his older brother, Naoya Inoue (10-0, 8) [井上 尚弥], in a world title fight their are some suggesting that Ohashi have requested Takuma's re-ranking ahead of moves to try and secure Takuma a world title bout later this year.
If that's correct then Takuma's likely target is going to be WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12), who has scored back-to-back stoppage wins on the road against Shohei Omori and Pungluang Sor Singyu.
A bout with Tapales would be a huge step up in class for the 20 year old Japanese youngster but it could help him step from beyond his brother's shadows and open up a new avenue for him to chase, rather than waiting for his brother to move up himself.
For Tapales the potential match up would be see him hit the road again, but be paid well by Ohashi who have shown a willingness to bankroll their fighters to help them establish their names. If he wins it could also set up a potential future showdown with Naoya when he eventually moves into the Bantamweight division himself.
At the moment it's unclear when Ohashio would try and secure this match up but a possible late December date would fit into their schedule for an FES show along with Fuji TV's backing and it would also fit with Tapales' schedule, with the Filipino not needing to face a mandatory challenger until 2017. It's worth noting that Takuma is ranked outside the top 10 but will likely move into the top 10 if he gets past Saludar when the two men meet in September.
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