A story just breaking from Japan earlier today confirms that Japanese super prospect Naoya Inoue (7-0, 6) will indeed battle for the WBO Super Flyweight title at the end of this year as he has agree terms to fight Argentinian champion Omar Andres Narvaez (43-1-2, 23). The original story however has proven to be inaccurate.
Originally it was reported that Inoue, a Japanese wonder kid from Kanagawa, would be traveling to Osaka to fight Narvaez on December 31st. We, like the Japanese fans, raised our eyebrows at the idea of Inoue fighting in Osaka, a place that made very little sense given that he's a star in both Kanagawa and in Tokyo. Thankfully the story today confirmed our suspicions and the fight will not held in Osaka afterall, instead it will be in the Japanese capital of Tokyo whilst the date of the fight will not be December 31st but instead December 30th.
The fight will see Inoue attempting to become a 2-weight world champion and will see him jumping from Light Flyweight, where he currently holds the WBC title, straight to Super Flyweight. The jump up seems a relatively big one as he skips the Flyweight division though it does show just how much he has been struggling the 108lb limit and why he's about to vacate his WBC title.
On paper this is a massive step up for the youngster, not just in terms of weight but also opponent. Last time out he defeated Thailand's Samartlek Kokietgym and going from the likes of Samartlek to someone like Narvaez is a world of difference. Narvaez, himself a 2-weight world champion, has lost just once in 46 fights with that loss coming to the much bigger, stronger and younger Nonito Donaire and he is currently unbeaten below Bantamweight.
For Japanese fans who haven't seen much of Narvaez he did score a notable stoppage against Hiroyuki Hisataka last year, becoming the first man to stop the "Sexy Soldier" . That was his 8th defense of the title and he has since added 3 more to become the first fighter to record 10 or more defenses in 2 divisions, something he also accomplished at Flyweight before moving up in search of a stiffer challenger.
The bout appears to be a case of a hungry young lion trying to prove himself against a veteran who is still at the top and obvious questions will be asked about Inoue trying to bite off more than he can chew. If Inoue wins however t would seem clear that he really is a special fighter who should be enjoyed for taking on risks rather than lookign for the path of least resistance.
The world title bout will be one of two Inoue Vs Narvaez fights on the same day as both men will see their younger brother's colliding in the co-feature of the show as rising teenager Takuma Inoue (3-0, 1) features in a flyweight contest against Omar's younger brother Nestor Daniel Narvaes (20-2-2, 9) in an 8 round bout at Flyweight. Like the previous bouts for Takuma this is a great test and actually comes against a former world title challenger who pushed Toshiyuki Igarashi close in a WBC Flyweight title bout back in 2012. Although Nestor has gone 1-2 in his last 3 bouts those losses did come to world class opposition.
As for now the rest of the show hasn't been announced though we do know that it will be aired on Fuji TV from the Metropolitan Gym in Tokyo and promises to be a great night for boxing fans.
(Image, from the press conference for the fight, courtesy of Naoya Inoue's blog)
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