This past weekend we saw Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) make his Las Vegas debut, stopping Jason Moloney in 7 rounds to retain his Ring Magazine, IBF and WBA "super" titles. He not only impressed with his performance but also managed to win over some of those who didn't seem to be fans before hand, notably Timothy Bradley. He easily beat Moloney, and yet seemed to be fighting well within himself at times, and keeping certain weapons in his arsenal, notably his potent body shots. With the win he left fights wanting more, and wanting to see what he could do when he was really pushed.
With that in mind we've decided to look at 5 potential bouts for Inoue for next time out. There are some obvious choices here, some that we've seen fans talk up and one from left field. The reality, however, is that the "Monster" has options out there, and there are some very attractive propositions for him and for promoters Ohashi Promotions and Top Rank.
1-John Riel Casimero (30-4, 21)
The most obvious bout for Inoue is the much anticipated and much spoke about clash with WBO champion John Riel Casimero, the provocative, charismatic and brash Filipino. This bout was supposed to take place in April before being delayed due to the on going global situation, and then the men chose to go in different directions, at least temporarily. Since then Casimero has thrown repeated barbs at Inoue, comparing him to Pokémon Squirtle regularly. The bout is the one to make, it's the one both fighters want, it's the one fight fans wants and it's the one that would see 3 major titles, and the Ring Magazine title, being unified. Not only is it a bout we all want, but it's a bout that promises high level of skills, an explosive power from both men. It's really the type of divisional super fight that we all wish to see!
2-Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12) Vs Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26) winner
We're cheating with this second pick, but it really is a clear second choice, and that's a bout between Inoue and the winner of the December 12th WBC title clash, which will see defending champion Nordine Oubaali and Nonito Donaire. Interestingly both men have sub-stories with Inoue, and the winner here would have both the WBC title and that sub-story to sell an Inoue bout on.
A win for Oubaali here would see him clash with Inoue after beating Naoya's younger brother Takuma Inoue in late 2019, for Naoya a chance for revenge and for Oubaali a chance to do the double over the Inoue family. This, combined with a triple title unification and two unbeaten records makes this a super easy sell.
As for Donaire it was the "Filipino Flash" that gave Inoue his toughest bout so far, in 2019, and took Inoue 12 rounds, whilst also giving the Monster a serious injury that still doesn't look like it's totally healed. Their 2019 clash was a FOTY contender, and we suspect a rematch would be very highly anticipated.
3-Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20)
One of boxing's needed evils, at times, are mandatory title fights and for Inoue there is a mandatory due with the IBF. That is a bout against Filipino Michael Dasmarinas, who we suspect many in the West won't be familiar with. The Filipino is a talented boxer-puncher, but the 28 year old really does lack a top tier win and any kind of name value. He's very much an IBF mandatory due to the way the IBF rankings work, rather than having got it on the back of some big wins. Problem is we see this type of thing a lot with the IBF, hence why Teiru Kinoshita got two world title shots and why Downua Ruawaiking got a recent one. Few would give Dasmarinas any chance against Inoue. If we do get this one, hopefully we see it sharing a card with Casimero, to help build their rivalry.
4-Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22)
A somewhat left field choice would be a bout between Inoue and IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas, which is a bout we really should have had when both men were competing at 115lbs. There was talk of Inoue and Ancajas meeting when both held titles Super Flyweight but for whatever reason the bout never got signed, and following that Inoue moved up in weight and became the premier fighter at Bantamweight. He has gone on to unify titles and win the World Boxing Super Series at the new weight to secure his place in the pound-for-pound rankings. Ancajas on the other hand has toiled around at Super Flyweight, failing to secure a career defining win, despite making 8 defenses of the title. With both men being Top Rank promoted fighters this is a very makable bout, and a very interesting one. Just a shame we didn't get it as a unification bout at 115lbs.
5-Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-1-0-1, 13)
Very much an outside choice, but one that some fans seem to want is a showdown between Inoue and 40 year old Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux. The bout is one that we're not likely to see, for a number of reasons that we'll get on to in a minute, but it is one worth talking about, especially given that Rigondeaux is the current WBA "regular" Bantamweight champion, and is parading around as a world champion following a win over 37 year old Liborio Solis.
A prime Rigondeaux Vs a prime Inoue would have been something very special, and would have seen two very intelligent boxer-punchers against each other in what would have been a fantastic bout. Sadly however the value in the bout now just doesn't exist. Despite how much some fans may want to suggest otherwise. At 40 a win over Rigondeaux means little, and it feels very much like Rigondeaux looking for a pension payment before retiring, added to that is the fact Bob Arum almost certainly won't want to work with Rigondeaux, who stunk out the join multiple times on Top Rank shows and was last seen on a Top Rank broadcast quitting against Lomachenko. Whilst the Cuban didn't have a chance against Lomachenko it was a case of Rigondeaux's mouth getting him the fight and we don't imagine Top Rank will allow that to happen again. Also Inoue has made it clear he wants to unify all 4 titles, and we don't imagine the WBA's made up belt secondary title has interest to him.
This might be a bout a certain corner of the boxing fan base wants, but in reality it is very unlikely to happen
One of the most interesting conversations to see unfurl is the conversation about who is the #1 pound for pound fighter on the planet. Sometimes the sport does have a clear #1, for example for much of Floyd Mayweather's career he was undeniably the #1 fighter on the planet, and by the end of his career he beat the only man who really gave him much of a run for that claim. Right now however there is no consensus #1. In fact there's 3 or even 4 fighters who could all make an argument to be #1 in the sport, and in fairness to them it seems unlikely we'll see them ever clash. This isn't like Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, where there was talk of the men fighting, but instead it's fighters from completely different weight classes all in the mix to be the sports best boxer.
Today we're going to make the case for Naoya Inoue to be regarded as the #1 pound for pound fighter.
We know some people will disagree, others will agree, but as with arse holes, we all have an opinion, we all have our beliefs, and we can all be respectful. We will make the case, but we expect many will disagree, and choose many Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, or Terence Crawford as the #1 fighter. Thing is whilst we would disagree with those picks, we do understand how fans can pick either guy.
When it comes to being a pound for pound top fighter one thing we all expect is for a fighter to fight through multiple weight classes. The guys we've previously mentioned, such as Mayweather, Pacquiao, Alvarez and Crawford, have all done that. It's, in many ways, a sign of greatness. Not just having success at your natural weight but managing to have success across multiple weight classes.
Of course not all multi-weight world champions are the same. For example few would ever suggest Leo Gamez was a pound for pound great in his prime, despite the fact he was the first fighter to win world titles across the lowest 4 weight classes. And that was before the WBA handed out titles like they belonged in Happy Meals. In fact Gamez was only the sixth man to win world titles at 4 weights.
As many will know Inoue is a 3-weight champion and he is a legitimate 3-weight champion. He's not someone who has picked up just picked secondary titles and held them, instead he's actually done something we don't see too often, but he's taken every world title from a reigning champion. No vacant titles for him.
His title wins have come against legitimately top level opponents. His first title win came against Adrian Hernandez, the then WBC Light Flyweight champion, his second came against Omar Andres Narvaez, the then WBO Super Flyweight champion, then he beat Jamie McDonnell for the WBA Bantamweight title, before beating Emmanuel Rodriguez for the IBF Bantamweight title and the Nonito Donaire for the WBA Bantamweight "super" title.
Some will point towards Jamie McDonnell holding a secondary title, and technically that was true, but it does ignore the history behind McDonnell's reign and the fact that boxing politics saw him being stripped of the IBF title and denied the WBO title (See note). And it also ignores the fact Inoue went on to win the WBA "super" title soon afterwards.
Not only did Inoue dethrone good champions, but he also made at least one defense of all every world title he has won. This wasn't a case of Inoue dipping his toes at a weight to win a belt and skipping town, but actually laying down some roots at all 3 weights.
One other thing to note is that Inoue is one of the few fighters to have had success whilst completely skipping a division. The plan had been for him to get a Flyweight title bout at the end of 2014, but with no Flyweight champions available he skipped the division and took on the long reigning Narvaez at Super Flyweight instead.
To be a top pound for pound fighter someone really needs to have scored a high level of wins. Not only that but those wins really need to be quite decisive. It's hard to be regarded as a top fight if you're narrowly taking split decision and controversial wins left right and center. Thankfully for Inoue he has been scoring high quality wins, completely devoid of controversy. And these big wins really do go back years.
In just his third bout Inoue beat the then world ranked Yuki Sano, he then beat Japanese national champion Ryoichi Taguchi in his fourth bout, scoring a clear decision over Taguchi. The win over Taguchi aged amazingly with Taguchi later unifying titles at Light Flyweight.
Soon after the win over Taguchi we saw Inoue stop Adrian Hernandez for the WBC world title. Less than 9 months later he jumped up 2 weights and blasted out 2-weight world champion Omar Andres Narvaez.
Sadly Inoue's reign at Super Flyweight was under-whelming, defending against the likes of Warlito Parrenas, David Carmons, Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, Ricardo Rodriguez, Antonio Nieves and Yoan Boyeaux. The only genuine stand out defense came against 2-time WBA champion Kohei Kono, who he stopped in 6 rounds giving Kono his first stoppage loss. It wasn't down to a lack of trying however, with several fighters turning down Inoue, who had wanted to unify and was frustrated by the fellow champions and the WBC's mandatory merry-go-round. A merry-go-round that appears to be continuing to this day!
Sadly the WBC merry-go-round, which saw Carlos Cuadras, Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai having amazing bouts between themselves, left Inoue frozen out of unifying his WBO title with that belt, and essentially kept those 4 world class fighters out of his reach. This does harm Inoue's reign at the weight, but thankfully he didn't just toil at the weight waiting and after making 7 he moved up in weight once again.
At Bantamweight his competition has more than made up for the time he spent at Super Flyweight. He immediately made a mark at Bantamweight with a first round blow out over WBA "regular" champion Jamie McDonnell. He then entered the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) and beat former WBA "super" champion Juan Carlos Payano and the then unbeaten IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez. Between those two men and McDonnell we saw Inoue need just 4 rounds to demolish 3 world class fighters. He then beat future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire with a 12 round decision to claim the Muhammad Ali trophy and the WBA "super" title.
Donaire was the first man since David Carmona, more than 3 years earlier, to survive with Inoue, and even that was in part to a help referee who jumped in between the two men when Donairea was reeling from a body shot.
Most recently Inoue became the first man to stop Jason Moloney, doing so in 7 rounds.
In his career Inoue hasn't come close to losing. He's never been down and rarely loses rounds. Only one judge, at point, in Inoue's career even had one of his bouts close, and that was a bizarre 114-113 score card in Inoue's bout with Donaire. A scorecard that stands out as being a terrible score.
In just 20 bouts Inoue has beaten 9 men to hold world titles. He has stopped 7 of those, with only Taguchi and Donaire surviving. He has spent more than half of his career in world title bouts.
Whilst it's true that Canelo and Crawford have also beaten top competition it's fair to say that Crawford has lacked top competition recently. His Welterweight reign is terrible, and he is still struggling to secure a top win in the weight class. Much like Inoue did at Super Flyweight.
One thing that really needs to be mentioned is recent form. What have you done lately? If we ignore this one fighters like Roman Gonzalez and Manny Pacquiao would all rank incredibly highly on the pound for pound lists. Typically we might see Pacquiao and Gonzalez in the top 10, but their competition and weight exploits should see them higher in the rankings. Sadly though both guys have failed to do much at the top level in recent years.
With that in mind we should perhaps look back over the last 36 months. In that time Inoue has beaten Yoan Boyeaux, Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano, Emmanuel Rodriguez, Nonito Donaire and Jason Moloney. That's a 6-0 (5) record with 5 wins over legitimate world class fighters, and no debatable wins. They have all been definitive.
In that same time we've seen Canelo fight 4 times, going 4-0 with wins over Gennady Golovkin, Rocky Fielding, Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Kovalev. The win over Golovkin was heavily debated and the win over Fielding was regarded as a joke, much like Inoue's over Boyeaux. However the wins over Jacobs and Kovalev do hold up very well, particularly the one over Jacob's. He probably has the better wins here, but he also has arguably the weakest win, the one over fielding, and a very hotly debated one.
Likewise in that same period of time Terence Crawford Jeff Horn, Jose Benavidez, Amir Khan and Egidijus Kavaliauskas, and will likely add Kell Brook to his ledger on November 14th. All of those wins have been decisive, and he has stopped all 4 men. Whilst Horn was a reigning champion he wasn't highly regarded, Benavidez was once regarded highly but had failed to live up to his potential, Khan was a former world champion but had looked a long way from his best and Kavaliauskas was a live under-dog but relatively untested. He has been dominant, but against a lower tier of opposition.
Of course pound for pound, at the end of the day, also needs to incorporate a fighter's ability and skill set. Can they adapt? Have they got a plan B? How many flaws does a fighter have in their style? What can and can't they do?
There are, at the moment, a number of fighters who stand out here, including Crawford and Canelo, again, along with Juan Francisco Estrada. Although the men we consider as the most skilled are all very highly skilled, the reality is that not a lot separate them. They all have flaws, and they all have strengths. Notably they all have different styles and different weaknesses.
For us Inoue is on the same level as anyone in terms of ability. Like all top fighters he has a variety of tricks in his locker. Not only can he box and move, but he can pressure, he can punch, he's a criminally under-rated counter-puncher, and he can can adapt during a fighter. There are some flaws with what he does, but given how many things he does really well he's very much among the elite in terms of skills and ability. At just 27 he's still improving, but is already the best boxer-puncher in the sport.
Whilst it is his power that gets so much acclaim and attention his power really isn't his biggest asset. Instead it's his boxing IQ, his balance, his movement and his timing. Those allow him to use his power. It's these tools which have helped him have success through the weights, and why we suspect his power has carried up from 108lbs to 118lbs with no issues at all, and why we suspect it will carry up to 122lbs and even 126lbs.
Unlike many puncher's it's not the power that is the key to Inoue's knockouts. It's the mechanics behind things. He knows where he is, what he's doing there, and how to make the most of mistakes from opponents.
One complaint is that he can be hit, and it's true, he can. Everyone gets hit. Inoue has ever shown a real chin when he's had to take a shot, and has neutralised opponents really well, shutting down the capable Moloney recently to the point where Moloney landed just 62 punches in 7 rounds, at a connect rate of 19%! He might not be the most defensive fighter, but he's also not a defensively naive one. For an offensive fighter to get hit as rarely as he does is a real credit to his ability, anticipation, and ring craft. Things that are often under-rated when it comes to Inoue.
In terms of ability there are very, very few who can consider themselves even close to the elite level of skills of Inoue.
Not so much a criteria used for Pound for Pound conversation but something worth thinking about is the future position of fighters in the rankings.
For the 27 year old Inoue things are very bright. There are a host of great fights out there for him, including showdowns with Bantamweights like John Riel Casimero, Nordine Oubaali, Nonito Donaire and Guillermo Rigondeaux. Or Super Flyweights like Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Jerwin Ancajas or even Donnie Nietes. He could, and likely will, move up to Super Bantamweight in a year or two, opening up bouts against the likes of Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Luis Nery, Ryosuke Iwasa, Daniel Roman, Michael Conlan, Isaac Dogboe. Inoue is in a great position looking forward.
At the moment we know that the 33 year old Terence Crawford's next bout is an underwhelming one against Kell Brook, and he has genuinely struggled to get decent Welterweights in the ring with him. If he fails to land a good opponent next year he'll be on the back end of his prime years, and Top Rank still won't have any attractive bouts for him.
Canelo is battling with his broadcaster and promoter outside of the ring. At just 30 years old he could, potentially, waste a year or two and still have a lot of attractive bouts on the table. It's a shame that he's being kept out of the ring and battling in the legal system however. He has plenty of potential opponents, but it's very unclear when he'll be back in the ring. He's been out of the ring for a year and if the legal case extends another 6 months, and there is a chance of that, it could be 18 months of his prime out of the ring.
The 33 year old Oleksandr Usyk is one of the most talented fighters on the planet. Sadly however his future doesn't look the best. He turns 34 in January and his style will struggle to hold up with his ageing body. He also will be going up against some significantly bigger men. Wins against Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury would be huge for him, but he would be an under-dog against either man, and it's hard to imagine him having prolonged success as a Heavyweight.
Teofimo Lopez looks to be the new kid on the block and the American has all the tools to be a future pound for great. He neutralised the fantastic Vasyl Lomachenko recently, and although he has struggled at times he ticks pretty much every box. Much like Inoue he wants to face the best and there is serious competition out there for him at 135lbs and 140lbs. Aged just 23 he has all the tools to be a major player in the coming years, though we do need to see what he's like when he moves through the weights.
We've just mentioned Vasyl Lomachenko and he does deserve a mention here. He's probably the best talent in boxing. He can do things others can't even imagine doing. Sadly however he was completely neutralised by Teofimo Lopez earlier this year, and with repeated injuries the 32 year old Ukrainian doesn't appear to have a long future in the sport. He turns 33 early next year and with repeated injuries his long term potential is limited, especially with his high energy style. He's never looked the most comfortable at Lightweight and it does seem likely that a move down in weight would be best for his career.
The 29 year old Josh Taylor is some one with a potentially bright future. He turns 30 in January and will, by then, be looking to to face fellow unified champion Jose Carlos Ramirez to become the undisputed champion at 140lbs. When he does that we do hope that the "Tartan Tornado" doesn't immediately move up in weight, as he will likely find himself in the same position that Terence Crawford is in, struggling to get leading Welterweights in the ring with him. We do want to see fighters move up in weight, but sometimes a fighter, and fans, need to be patient and we hope that Taylor can wait until Top Rank have some interesting Welterweights before moving up.
The past 2 years have been huge for the Charlo twins, and they headlined a split PPV earlier this year. Of the two 30 year old fighters Jermell Charlo has the better claim to be in the pound for pound conversation and is a unified champion champion at 154lbs with wins against good competition. He is in a great position at the moment, though longer term there may be some issues. We suspect he'll be racing for the WBO title next year, to become the undisputed champion at 154lbs, and the longer he stays at 154lbs the better his competition can be. Sadly though we don't see many good bouts for him at Middleweight, given so much of the division is tied up on DAZN whilst he's with PBC, and deson't have the financial backing to get people to cross the street.
In terms of skills few match Juan Francisco Estrada, and he is in an amazing position right now. The 30 year old Super Flyweight has been ordered to face Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, in what will be their third bout, and also has eyes on a second bout with Roman Gonzalez. After those bouts there are potential contests with Donnie Nietes and Kazuto Ioka for him at Super Flyweight, or a potential move to Bantamweight to pursue Inoue. He's in a great position, given who he can face, and his age. We do worry about the damage he's taken, and will take against Srisaket and Gonzalez, but there are few fighters with the options there that he has right now.
There are some great fighters out there, and some are laying down the ground work now to not just be in the pound for pound ratings but also be in them long term. Others however seem likely to struggle to solidify, or improve, their position. Either way Inoue is in a great position to add to his legacy, and even though many of his main rivals are with PBC it seems likely that the finances would make sense for them to cross the street to face the Monster, not something that is always the case.
Is Naoya Inoue the #1 pound for pound fighter?
Obviously we're going to say yes. He ticks more of the boxes than anyone else for us. He has the skills to match anyone in the sport, he has notable achievements across multiple weights, and he's got the mix of solid competition through his career and a high level of recent competition. He's rarely losing rounds, bouts with him involved aren't competitive and he's notching big win after big win.
Unlike many fighters Inoue is somewhat immune to the issues affecting boxing in the US. He is the draw at Bantamweight, he's the man other Bantamweights want to face, and there is no problems with him not getting stiff competition. The division he's in, plus divisions either side of him, as full of options.
Notably he is one of the very few active fighters in, or around, the pound for pound discussion to have scored wins on 3 different continents. This is a sign of someone who has the confidence to to travel. He could stay at home, like many fighters, but instead has travelled, and has scored wins in Asia, Europe and North America. Something we'd love to see other top fighters do.
We understand fans may disagree, and may use different criteria, and that's fine. For us however, Inoue is now the #1 pound for pound fighter on the planet, and is very much in the perfect position to solidify that claim over the next year or so. That is not something we can see for some of the other fighters in the discussion.
Note-In 2013 Jamie McDonnell won the IBF Bantamweight title but was stripped due to failing to defend against the mandatory challenger after splitting with his then promoter. The title was then won by a man he had beaten in 2011. He then won the WBA "regular" title, made a string of defenses including one over the previous WBO champion Tomoki Kameda, who vacated to face the then "unranked" McDonnell, who was the WBA "regular" champion. The political situation around McDonnell was a farce and a black eye for the IBF and WBO.
(Images courtesy of Ohashi Gym)
This past weekend we saw WBA "Super", IBF and Ring Magazine Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) make his Las Vegas debut, and secure his latest successful out, as he stopped Australian Jason Moloney (21-2, 18). The bout, which was Inoue's first since his WBSS triumph last November, was a huge opportunity for Inoue to improve his profile and it was one he took brilliantly, showing why so many regard him so highly, and why he is one of the sports must watch fighters.
With the bout now done, we've rewatched it and have a number of take aways we want to share about the contest and then men involved.
1-Inoue has it all
Usually a fighter has something missing. It's very rare for a fighter to having timing, speed, power, foot work, balance and a high level boxing brain but Inoue has all that and so much more. He is one of the very few fighters who makes every movement look natural, fluid and like it was thought out several minutes ago. We all talk about his speed, both foot and hand, and his power, but we dare say it's his brain that is the quickest. He seems to see things in advance, and anticipate things so well, allowing him to time things perfectly. Even when he's taking risks he seems to know where he was and where Moloney was, allowing him to get away with his mistakes without issue.
2-Moloney is incredibly tough
Whether Jason Moloney ever wins or a world title or not one thing is clear. The Aussie is a real tough guy. Most men would have folded when Inoue started to up the pressure in round 4, others would have taken the way out in round 6, and either stayed down, or got bailed out. Moloney on the other hand gritted his teeth and went through some real punishment looking to turn things around. Genuine credit to him for the toughness he showed, and the stubbornness. We know Aussies are typically stubborn, confident and proud, but this went well beyond what was expected. Real credit to Mayhem for lasting as long as he did.
3-Inoue's body punching wasn't up to the standards we expect
This is probably about the only complaint we can make about Inoue here, but it was something that we noticed live. His trademark body punching was a lot less prevalent than we've typically seen, and instead we saw him head hunting more often. We did see him go to the body every so often with something meaty, but in reality it was mostly with his jab, and not the hooks or uppercuts that he has showcased in the past. To be fair Moloney wasn't an easy target, and did protect his body well, but this was, perhaps, the one complaint about Inoue's performance. Then again he did so well up top that it hardly mattered and scored both of his knockdowns with shots upstairs.
4-You can't try to outbox Inoue
Jason Moloney is a very, very good boxer. He's got the tools to win a world title in he future. He's quick, sharp, light on his feet, knows his way around the ring, has good timing and has everything to be a very good boxer. Sadly for him his gameplan here seemed to be one focused on his boxing ability. He relied on his jab, a lot, and that was a battle he was never going to win. He has a good jab, but it's as good as Inoue's. He's a good boxer, but Inoue is a better one. Sadly for the Bantamweight division, there isn't anyone there who can outbox Inoue. To beat him your gameplan can't be based around out boxing the genius that is Inoue. You need something else. If you let him get behind his jab, and dictate the tempo there he's going to beat you without too many problems. Problem is there's many gameplans that look likely to have success, and going into the trenches with him also looks like it's bound fail as well. Sadly for opponents, it all looks so effortless for him.
5-There's a compromise on the free/pay TV argument
One of the big issues we have with PPV boxing is that it freezes out a potential audience, limiting the fan base of the sport and the potential impact that fights have on the next generation of fighters. It appears Japanese TV have managed to find a genuine compromise on fights like this. This wasn't live at a great time for a Japanese audience. It was in the morning and not great for viewers. It was however available to fans wanting to watch it live thanks to WOWOW. It was then made available to a wider Japanese audience on free TV at prime time. This was a brilliant work around, and maybe should be copied internationally. When a British fighter fights in American it's the middle of the night, the audience will be small, but then airing it for free on tape delay, either same day or on a few day delay, will allow it to have the big audience it deserves.
It may be a fine balancing act on pay vs free broadcasts of the same fight, but we certainly believe that this sort of thing will help keep the sport in the public eye, and even grow it in certain cases. The Fuji TV delay broadcast got over 10% of the Kanto audience, and that is a sign that this sort of thing can work, incredibly well.
This coming weekend we'll see Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) make his Las Vegas debut, as he looks to defend the WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight titles. In the opposite corner will be Australian challenger Jason Moloney (21-1, 18).
Before this bout we have heard a lot about Japanese fighters and their form internationally, so ahead of this weekend's bout we've decided to look at some recent events where we've seen Japanese fighters in Las Vegas.
The last win by a Japanese boxer in Las Vegas
November 30th 2019 - Andy Hiraoka TKO2 Rogelio Casarez
Just 11 months ago Inoue's stable mate Andy Hiraoka travelled over to the US and beat Rogelio Casarez in 2 rounds to make a successful US debut. This was Hiraoka's first bout under the Top Rank banner, and was the ideal way for him to make a statement and impress the likes of Bob Arum. Unfortunately he failed to build on this momentum and hasn't fought since though he does, at the time of writing, hold the distinction of being the last Japanese fighter to win in Sin City.
An interesting caveat to add here is that Hiraoka actually fights again this weekend. In fact he'll do so before Inoue, as he takes on Rickey Edwards, so there is a chance this fact will be incorrect by the time Inoue fights. If Hiraoka does beat Edwards he'll be one of the very, very few Japanese fighters to have scored multiple wins in Las Vegas!
The last world title fight involving a Japanese fighter in Las Vegas
October 20th 2018 - Rob Brant UD12 Ryota Murata I
Just over 2 years ago we saw a massive upset as unheralded American challenger upset the then WBA "regular" Middleweight champion Ryota Murata with a wide 12 round decision. The bout, a WBA mandatory, seemed like Murata over-looked Rob Brant and paid for it, losing pretty much every round. Thankfully for Murata the two men engaged in a rematch 9 months later with Murata beating Brant in 2 rounds to reclaim the title.
Interestingly this was Murata's third bout in Las Vegas, and he had won the previous 2. This was also the last time a Japanese fighter lost a world title bout in Japan
The last time a Japanese world champion was stopped in Las Vegas
November 21st 2015 - Francisco Vargas TKO9 Takashi Miura
We need to go back to 2015 to find the last time a Japanese world champion was stopped in a world title bout in Las Vegas, and that came in the sensational bout between Takashi Miura and Francisco Vargas. This amazing battle for the WBC Super Featherweight title was one of the best bouts of the year and saw both men being dropped, and dynamite being thrown by both men. If you've never seen this one, you really do your self a watch of it before the weekend!
The last successful world title defense a Japanese world champion in Las Vegas
July 12th 2014 - Tomoki Kameda KO 7 Pungluang Sor Singyu
The last successful world title defense by a Japanese world champion in Las Vegas came more than 6 years ago, when Tomoki Kameda successfully defended the WBO Bantamweight title against Pungluang Sor Singyu, stopping the Thai with a brutal body shot in round 7. Interestingly this was Kameda's Las Vegas debut, and is still his only bout there.
It's also worth noting that on October 1st 2011 Toshiaki Nishioka retained the WBC Super Bantamweight title with a unanimous decision win over Rafael Marquez. This was the first time a Japanese fighter had successfully defended a world title in Las Vegas. Interestingly this was Nishioka's third, and final, bout in Las Vegas and came almost 9 years after his Las Vegas debut. It's worth noting Nishioka's record in those 3 bouts was 3-0.
The last No Contest in a world title fight featuring a Japanese fighter in Las Vegas
December 9th 2017 - Kenichi Ogawa Vs Tevin Farmer
No Contests are always a bit of an oddity and a rarity but in December 2017 we did have one as Kenichi Ogawa and Tevin Farmer had their clash become a No Contest following a failed drug test for Ogawa. This bout had originally seen Ogawa win a controversial decision but that was over-turned due to the drug test, which found a steroid in his sample.
The last draw by a Japanese fighter in Las Vegas
October 21st 2017 - Shoki Sakai D8 Cameron Krael
Given how rare draws are we thought this was worth adding, despite the fact it wasn't a world title bout. The last draw for a Japanese fighter in Las Vegas came in October 2017 when Shoki Sakai fought to an 8 round draw with Cameron Krael as Sam's Town Hotel and Gambling Hall. Unlike most of the bouts here this was on a Mayweather Promotions show and came before the Japanese fight, Sakai, had even fought in Japan.
One interesting thing to note is that no Japanese fighter has ever won a world title in Las Vegas. Only 5 Japanese fighters have actually claimed world titles on US soil, with the most recent being Masayuki Ito and then, going backwards, Tadashi Mihara, Yatsusune Uehara, Kuniaki Shibata and Shozo Saijo.
Any other interesting trivia when it comes to Las Vegas?
This will be the first bout for some version of the WBA Bantamweight title to be held in Las Vegas in 20 years! The last time the title was defended there was Paulie Ayala's 12 round majority decision win over Johnny Bredahl in 2000. For the last WBA Bantamweight title change we need to go back to 1999 when Ayala won the title from Johnny Tapia.
For those wondering the WBA Bantamweight "Super" title has never been fought for in Las Vegas.
The last defense of the IBF Bantamweight title in Las Vegas came in 2012, when Leo Santa Cruz beat Eric Morel in 5 rounds. Incidentally the title actually changed hands a year earlier in Las Vegas, when Abner Mares dethroned Joseph Agbeko in a controversial clash in what is the last time the IBF Bantamweight title was won in the City. Rather interestingly the title has changed hands in 2 of the last 3 bouts where it has been fought for in Las Vegas.
One other interesting fact is that in December 1996 Yuichi Kasai came up short against the then WBA Super Bantamweight Antonio Cermeno. The two men would notable have a rematch the following year which ended with a brutal KO win for Cermeno. Rather interestingly Kasai was is a close friend of Koji Matsumoto, a trainer at the Ohashi Gym, the same Ohashi Gym that Inoue, and Andy Hiraoka, fight out of!
*Note this is not a comprehensive list of all bouts, and is very much focused on recent contests.
We've all heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and we've decided to put our spin on things with "Six degrees of separation" looking to connect Asian fighters you may never have assumed were connected! Today we connect current day Japanese star Naoya Inoue to former Kazakh fighter, turn boxing official, Serikzhan Yeshmagambetov.
Just as ground rules, we're not doing the more basic "A beat B who beat C who beat D" type of thing, but instead we want to link fighters in different ways. As a result we will limit A fought B connections, and try to get more varied connections together, as you'll see here! We also know there are often shorter routes to connect fighters, but that's not always the most interesting way to connect them.
1-Before winning his first world title Naoya Inoue had already won both the Japanese and OPBF Light Flyweight titles, as he raced through the domestic and regional ranks, and then onto world level. A prior Japanese and OPBF Light Flyweight champion is Takashi Shiohama, who won the Japanese title in 1995 and the OPBF title in 1996. He did challenger for a world title, but came up short against the then WBA champion Rosendo Alvarez.
2-To win the OPBF Light Flyweight title Takashi Shiohama stopped experienced Filipino Ric Magramo, who was fighting in his 51st professional bout. This would actually be the second OPBF title bout for Magramo, who had previously fought to a draw with Shiro Yashiro, just 5 months prior to losing a technical decision to Shiohama.
3-The Ric Magramo mentioned above, who faced Shiohama and Yashiro, was born Renato Magramo but fought as Ric Magramo. This sees him sharing a ring name with Endrikito Magramo, who used the Ric Magramo name in the 1960's and 1970's. Interestingly the first Ric Magramo also came up short in a number of OPBF title bouts, albeit at Flyweight.
4-The original Ric Magramo, the one from the 1960's, fought a mini who's who of the Flyweight scene of the era. This included bouts against the likes of Hiroyuki Ebihara, Bernabe Villacampo, Walter McGowan, Berkrerk Chartvanchai and Erbito Salavarria. In fact Magramo and Salavarria clashed 4 times, with the men splitting their series 2-2.
5-Despite twice losing to Ric Magramo the talented Erbito Salavarria would go on to have a very successful career, winning both the WBA and WBC Flyweight titles during his very notable career. Another Filipino who won the WBC Flyweight title was, of course, the iconic Manny Pacquiao.
6-In March 2003 Manny Pacquiao, the then IBF Super Bantamweight champion, fought in a non title bout as he took on little known Kazakh Serikzhan Yeshmagambetov. The bout, although not too well remembered, saw the Kazakh pull himself off the canvas in round 1, drop Pacquiao in round 4, but end up being stopped himself in the 5th round.
Over the last few days we've worked our way through the top 10 rankings for the Asian scene at Minimumweight through to Super Flyweight and today we add the Bantamweight rankings, and this is one of the divisions with incredible depth. We feel the #1 is a consensus pick, #2 and #3 are interchangeable and then the other 7 are a mix of really talented fighters in one of the most packed top 10's that we'll be covering. There could be some debate about the placements, but in reality there's not a lot separating some of these guys. However, that's not a bad thing, and it helps show the competitive nature of the division right now.
1-Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16)
The current WBA "Super" and IBF unified champion champion is arguably the face of Asian boxing right now, Naoya Inoue. The heavy handed 27 year old from Kanagawa is already a 3 weight world champion and within just 19 fights is one of the sports genuine stars. After winning world titles at Light Flyweight and Super Flyweight Inoue moved to Bantamweight and decimated Jamie McDonnell, Juan Carlos Payano and Emmanuel Rodriguez, before working hard to defeat Nonito Donaire in the WBSS Finale last November. The bout against Donaire saw Inoue needing to prove his toughness, chin and will to win and proving them in the way he did really boosted his standing in our eyes, and he answered some real questions. Having now shown he can fight through adversity we know Inoue is much, much more than just an offensive "Monster".
2-Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26)
Having given Inoue such a tough bout in the WBSS final it's fair to suggest that Nonito Donaire is #2, or at worst #3, in division in regards to Asian fighters. The 37 year old Filipino veteran is a physical monster at the weight, with huge size advantages over almost everyone else at 118lbs. He's not just big but he's also strong, very powerful, incredibly tough and a nightmare to fight. He's not as quick as he once was, though as he's lost speed he has adapted and certainly throws fewer wild shots than he once did. There is a case of father time being on his back, but the "Filipino Flash", is experienced, skilled, strong, and has become a more intelligent fighter as the years have gone on. We don't imagine he'll have a Bernard Hopkins-esque career, but he did show there is more than just a bit of life left in his career.
3-John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20)
We mentioned that Donaire was either #2 or #3, the man he is potentially interchangeable with is WBO champion John Riel Casimero. Casimero is a 3-weight world champion, and is someone who has long been over-looked by fans of the sport. He's won titles at at 108lbs, 112lbs and now Bantameight. Blessed with confidence, speed and power Casimero is nightmare to face when he's on song. He is however rather unpredictable and he can look both amazing and terrible in the same fight. He won the WBO title last year, stopping Zolani Tete, and seems to be enjoying a good run of form, though that could change at any moment. Originally the plan had been for Casimero to face off with Inoue in April though that bout was cancelled by on going global situation. Now it appears the two men could end up going in different directions with Casimero now looking likely to face Joshua Greer Jr, in a mandatory title defense instead.
4-Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13)
After the top 3 we end up with 4 or 5 guys who are very tricky to split, and matching any of them would give some compelling bouts. Among those "chasing group" is OPBF champion Keita Kurihara, a hard hitting 27 year from Japan. On paper Kurihara shouldn't be here, with 5 losses from his 20 bouts, however those losses don't tell the full story of where Kurihara is now. In fact 4 of his losses came in his first 7 bouts and he has only been beaten once in his last 13, with that coming to Hiroaki Teshigawara. In that time he has beaten Ryan Lumacad, Yuki Strong Kobayashi, Warlito Parrenas and Sukkasem Kietyongyuth. He's not the most talented of the ones in this area of the rankings, through he is very much among the most dangerous.
5-Reymart Gaballo (23-0, 20)
The most overlooked man in the division, by some margin, is 23 year old Filipino Reymart Gaballo. Gaballo is a joy to watch, but also a freakishly good fighter with some absolutely terrifying traits. He's lightning quick, tall and rangy, with frightening power, very confident and despite look a bit raw around the edges appears to take a good shot, and throw and even better one. His best win to date is probably over Stephon Young, more than 2 years ago, and since then has been supposedly decent opponents. We're really looking forward to seeing the leash being off Gaballo and allowing him to back up our high ranking of him as he looks like the sort of fighter who really could stamp his authority on the division.
6-Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3)
Naoya Inoue's little brother, Takuma Inoue, is pretty much the opposite of Keita Kurihara. Whilst Kurihara is all about power Inoue at the cost of skills Takuma Inoue is very much about skills and movement, at the expense of his power. He's a smart boxer-mover, with under-defense, very good movement and sharp punches, but a lack of punching power a strange lack of physical strength, despite visibly looking strong. His 2019 loss to Nordine Oubaali saw him being bullied for much of the fight, though his will to win shined through late on and he pushed Oubaali hard late on, answer questions about his heart and his stamina. We do wonder whether he could drop back down to Super Flyweight, where he fought earlier in his career. If he could he would a great addition there, but instead might find his success being a bit limited at Bantamweight. Saying that however he's only 24 and is still a boxing baby, despite being a pro since 2013. He might not be the generational talent that his older brother is, but don't write him off at after just a single loss.
7-Nawaphon Por Chokchai (48-1-1, 38)
Former Flyweight world title challenger Nawaphon Por Chokchai, also known by various other names, has reeled off 12 wins since being stopped by Juan Hernandez back in 2017. Whilst his competition hasn't been the best he has scored notable victories over Amnat Ruenrroeng, Richard Claveras, Sonny Boy Jaro and Ryan Lumacad since his sole defeat, putting him back among the contenders looking for a shot. His record is padded, but watching him, you know he can step it up and would be a nightmare for many of the divisional elite. Some how he's only 28 at the moment, and right bang in his prime, despite already having 50 bouts to his name. Another fighter we can't right off for just having a loss against his name.
8-Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20)
There's an argument that 27 year Filipino Michael Dasmarinas should be much higher up this list, and we do appreciate those arguments. Wins over Karim Guerfi and Kenny Demecillo are very good wins. Sadly however we can't the gift he got against Manyo Plange out of our head, and his win over Demecillo was certainly not the clear cut win that many would have expected for a supposed top divisional talent. He's skilled and talented, but we do wonder if he has maybe hit an early peak and is now, perhaps, heading the wrong way. He's been a sparring partner for both of the Inoue brothers, and is technically a mandatory for the IBF title, but we do wonder whether he'd last long with the Monster if, or when, they fight.
9-Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7)
Japanese national champion Yusuke Suzuki is another fighter with a record looks out of place in this top 10, but he certainly belongs here. He would also be an absolute nightmare for many in the rankings. The 31 year old southpaw is a solid puncher, teak tough, with an insane work rate and excellent will to win. He can be out boxed, and he cant be out manoeuvred, but but he's a dark horse in the division and certainly deserves a mention. Last time out he over-came some awful facial swelling to out point Yuta Saito. To date he has only lost once at the weight, and that was a split decision in the Philippines to the touted Jeffrey Francisco. Since then he has reeled off 5 wins and come back from a nasty injury. He's not in the mix for the higher positions but is pretty much interchangeable with the man ranked #9.
10-Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-8, 9)
Another fight who's record doesn't scream "top 10" is Yuki Strong Kobayashi, who is in the list due to his recent results. In the last 60 months he had gone 6-1 (3) with his only loss being a close one to Keita Kurihara. In that same time he has beaten Satoshi Ozawa, Vicent Astrolabio and Ben Mananquil. The win over Mananquil saw him net the WBO Asia Pacific title and score a recent big surprise last year over the talented Filipino. Kobayashi has improved from the fighter he once was, and when he was 10-7 (5) his career very much seemed like it was going nowhere but the 28 year old is now an experienced regional champion and with Muto gym well and truly behind him his future is bright. He's not near the top of this list, but certainly belongs on it. A rematch between him and Kurihara would be good, as would a bout with Suzuki.
On the Bubble:
Ben Mananquil, Kenny Demecillo, Renz Rosia, Yelshat Nikhemttolla, Petch Sor Chitpatttana, and Carl Jammes Martin
With live boxing still off on the horizon, we thought we'd have a bit of fun looking at some of the most eye catching knockouts in Asian Boxing history. This really isn't going to make up for the complete lack of action we've got right now, but will hopefully be a chance to share some perhaps over-looked finishes from Asia.
Naoya Inoue (1-0, 1) Vs Ngaoprajan Chuwatana (9-10, 9)
We get to begin this series with a KO that was compared, at the time, to Sugar Ray Robinson's sensational knockout of Gene Fullmer by Joe Koizumi. Whilst the fight didn't have the same meaning as that one, the shot it's self is similar and had Japanese scribe fans in serious excitement about the sensational youngster they had seen in just his second professional bout.
The fighter in question was the then 19 year old Naoya Inoue, who had made his debut just 3 months earlier, stopping Crison Omayao, and was returning to take on the usually durable Ngaoprajan Chuwatana from Thailand. Chuwatana was no world beater, but from his 19 fights coming in to this he had faced a real mini-who's who, including 3 men who, at some point, won world titles, and a further 3 world title challengers. He had also gone the distance in an OPBF title bout, in a very competitive bout against Toshikazu Waga.
Like the Robinson shot it was a counter left hook, whilst going backwards, that landed like a peach.
Some how the Thai got to his feet, being counted out standing, but that's not to take away from how brilliant the finish shot was. For a fighter to do this only his second bout, whilst still a teenager, against a fighter who had gone much longer with the likes of Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Katsunari Takayama, Ryo Miyazaki and Jonathan Taconing.
Given Inoue has scored more impressive wins since this one it's easy to over look how impressive this was at the time, but it deserves a rewatch. The timing, the placement, and the speed were all sublime and thanks to TBS we got replays from multiple angles. For a man in just his second bout to do this is genuine sensationally, though of course as we all know now Inoue is no normal fighter.
This past weekend we saw Uzbek sensation Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6) claim the WBA "super" and IBF Super Bantamweight titles with an excellent win over Daniel Roman. The performance, in just his 8th professional bout, was a real statement from Akhmadaliev, despite a bizarre 12th round, and a sign of the rising wave of the Uzbek fighters, which include the likes of Israil Madrimov, Bektemir Melikuziev and Bakhodir Jalolov.
With his win at the weekend it's going to be interesting to see what Akhmadaliev does next. The Super Bantamweight division is a very interesting one, and as a double champion there are some very interesting potential moves for "MJ" going forward. So with that in mind lets look at Five for... Murodjon Akhmadaliev
1- Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17)
The obvious next next fight for "MJ" is a mandatory defense of his titles against IBF "interim" champion Ryosuke Iwasa. If MJ avoids this fight, for whatever reason, he'd likely be stripped of the IBF title and given how he spoke about being a unified champion we don't imagine him wanting to relinquish either belt any time soon. In the ring this would be a really interesting match up. It would be the first time MJ has fought a hard hitting southpaw, though he has faced two lefties already in his career, and would also see whether or not Iwasa has figured fellow southpaws himself, or whether his performance against Marlon Tapales was a fluke. Given the heavy hands both men have we wouldn't be surprised to see this one end inside the schedule and for both to be rocked at some point.
2- Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26)
Whilst Akhmadaliev may be a unified champion there are still titles out there for him to go and capture. The reality is that a bout between "MJ" and WBC champion Rey Vargas wouldn't be an enjoyable watch, however a fight between the unbeaten Uzbek and marauding Mexican Emanuel Navarrete would be something special. It would be beautifully brutal, with both men firing off heavy shot. It would be "Vaquero's" pressure, against MJ's movement and boxing ability, it would be champion against champion, and it would be stylistically the most pleasing and exciting unification bout the division could give us right now. This would be something to get very, very excited about.
3- Daniel Roman II (27-3-1, 10)
Lets be honest the first fight between Akhmadaliev and Daniel Roman was good, really good...so good we want to see it again! Of course with the bout being a WBA mandatory there's no obligation for "MJ" to give Roman a rematch, but it did seem like both wanted to do it again, and we sure as hell would love to see them go again. Their first bout showed they were well matched, and with 12 rounds already between the men we would love to see what changes they make for a rematch. We would expect more output from Roman in the early going, especially given the way he seemed to have Akhmadaliev in trouble in the final round, whilst we expect Akhmadaliev to pace himself just a tough more and be able to fight hard in the final round. Alternatively the first 12 rounds may have allowed one man to find a weakness in the other they could exploit early in a rematch. Although we don't expect this to be next, we do expect this to be excellent when, and if, it happens.
4- Brandon Figueroa (20-0-1, 15)
Another really interesting match up from a style point of view would see "MJ" take on "The Heartbreaker" Brandon Figueroa. Whilst Akhmadaliev is the WBA "Super" champion Figueroa is the "Regular" WBA champion, so it would get rid of one of those pesky WBA belts, at least temporarily. MJ would certainly be favoured over the unbeaten Figueroa, but that doesn't take away from the fact this would be very, very exciting to watch and would see him up against a big, strong, powerful and aggressive foe. In many ways this would be like Akhmadaliev facing a lesser quality version of Emanuel Navarrete, and would work as a nice tune up for a bout with the Mexican down the line.
5- Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16)
Possibly entering to the realms of a dream fight here, but "MJ VS The Monster" is a mouth watering proposition, and potentially something we'll see somewhere down the line. In terms of height and reach the guys are very similiar, but both are also very different. MJ is probably the better boxer, and the better mover, but we suspect Inoue is the better puncher, and and the slightly quicker on the trigger. Either way we would love to find out, in what would be arguably the most intriguing bout either could have. This would see Inoue stepping up in weight again, attempting to become a 4-weight champion, but again given the fact the men are so similar in size, we wouldn't imagine that being a problem. In fact instead size being the key to victory it would be what they can do in the ring, and we would love to see match up of sensational young champions at some point, preferably sooner rather than later.
Following his win this past weekend the big question now is, what is next for WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20). Obviously he called out Naoya Inoue, but that certainly isn't the only for the hard hitting Filipino, who has a lot of potential fighters looking in his direction.
With that in mind we will look at Five For... John Riel Casimero, with Inoue being one of the 5 fighters we'll look at, alongside the WBO mandatory challenger and other interesting potential foes.
1-Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16)
The obvious choice for Casimero is, Naoya Inoue, the man he called out after his win over Tete. The bout would be a huge all-Asian unification bout that could take either side of the Pacific. In Japan the bout would be a huge follow up to Inoue's win over Donaire in the WBSS final, whilst in the US it would be a monster introduction for US fans to the winner in Inoue's Top Rank debut. Obviously Inoue would be the favourite, but Casimero has regularly been the under-dog and hasn't cared about his opponent being the favourite. This could be mouth watering, but really depends on which Casimero turns up.
2-Joshua Greer, Jr (22-1-1, 12)
Loud, brash and confident American Joshua Greer is the #1 contender to Casimero and the WBO title, and is the Inoue bout can't come off, for whatever, then Gree is the man Casimero should be looking to face as quickly as possible. A win over Greer would get rid of him as the mandatory challenger and help to further enhance Casimero's reputation as a road warrior. If we're being completely honest we don't see Gree being competitive over a half focused Casimero, though of course seeing Casimero fighting at less than half of his best is never a surprise. Gree has managed to create plenty of hype with his pillow gimmick, and we suspect that if he got in the ring with Casimero he'd need the pillow himself, rather early on.
3-Jason Moloney (20-1, 17)
The well travelled Casimero has genuinely fought all over the place, but has yet to pick up a stamp from Australia on his well used passport. A trip "down under" to face the talented and heavy handed Jason Moloney would certainly be an interesting assignment, and would come against a legit top level opponent. Moloney proved his ability in 2018, when he beat Kohei Kono and the lost a hotly contested bout with Emmanuel Rodriguez, and would make for a fantastic opponent for Casimero. This wouldn't be as high profile as Inoue or Greer, but from a neutral point of view this would be a brilliant match up between heavy handed and talented fighters.
4-Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26)
One thing we still don't get enough of is All-Filipino world title bouts, and yet we have to truly top level Filipino Bantamweights, both of which are at an interesting cross roads and both are seemingly interested in a future showdown with the same man. Why not have them face off? Both Casimero and Nonito Donaire have made it clear they want to face Inoue down the line, and whilst Donaire has just faced the Monster he wants to go again, and Casimero has made his intention clear. A bout between the two wouldn't just be an Inoue eliminator but would also be a potentially explosive clash between two very heavy handed fighters. This could be made in either the Philippines, in what could be sold as Donaire's last bout, or in the US, with Casimero looking to boost his profile and Donaire being seen as the perfect foil. It would be a potential passing of the torch for Casimero, or one more final hurrah for the Filipino Flash.
5-Jonas Sultan (16-5, 10) II
A left of field choice, but maybe a more personal one for Casimero, would be a rematch with fellow Filipino Jonas Sultan. In 2017 Casimero was out pointed by Sultan in a Super Flyweight world title eliminator, and suffered his first, and only, loss to a fellow Filipino fighter. The bout saw Casimero look totally off, and the cards of Carl Zappia and Glenn Trowbridge really were both kind to Casimero who never looked good at any point against Sultan. Since then Sultan has gone 2-2 and looks like a fighter who has peaked and is on his way down, whilst Casimero looks to be having an Indian summer of sorts. The loss is one that looks wrong on Casimero's record, and the only one which has come to someone who has never won a world title. He has a chance to avenge it, and why wait? Yes this is much less high profile and big name, but we certainly see the appeal of this bout, if Casimero wants to get revenge for what happened in their first bout.
We've all heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and we've decided to put our spin on things with "Six degrees of separation" looking to connect Asian fighters you may never have assumed were connected! Today we connect Japanese star Naoya Inoue and..Sung Kil Moon
Just as ground rules, we're not doing the more basic "A beat B who beat C who beat D" type of thing, but instead we want to link fighters in different ways. As a result we will limit A fought B connections, and try to get more varied connections together, as you'll see here! We also know there are often shorter routes to connect fighters, but that's not always the most interesting way to connect them.
1-Current WBA and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue has become one of the biggest stars in Japanese boxing and is already a 3 weight world champion and one of the most highly regarded fighters in world boxing today. Before he moved to Bantamweight he had won the Japanese Light Flyweight title, his professional title.
2-Another man to have held the Japanese Light Flyweight title was Yu Kimura, who actually won the title after Inoue vacated it. Kimura was a fighter from the well established, and world famous, Teiken Gym in Tokyo. Not only was he a Teiken fighter, but he was also a man who Teiken lead to a world title.
3-At Teiken one of Yu Kimura's stablemates, was WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka, who held the for close to 6 years.
4-Another Japanese fighter who held the WBC Bantamweight title, well before Shinsuke Yamanaka had achieved the feat, was Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, who was a Japanese boxing mega-star in the 1990's.
5-The man Joichiro Tatsuyoshi beat for the WBC Bantamweight title in 1991, in just his 8th bout, was Greg Richardson from the US. Coming in Richardson was looking to make his second defense in just 7 months, but was stopped by Tatsuyoshi.
6-In his very next bout, after losing to Tatsuyoshi, Greg Richardson would resurface in South Korea, where he lost to the then WBC Super Flyweight champion Sung Kil Moon.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).