Over the last 2 years there have been numerous fighters bursting on to the scene in one way or another. Some have gained more attention and hype than others and others have achieved more than many fighters do in their entire career.
One of the men to fall into that second category is Japanese super stud Naoya Inoue (6-0, 5), a man who claimed a world title in just his 6th professional bout after being a professional for a mere 18 months. Aged 21 it's clear that Inoue has the potential to be an all-time great, in fact he has the tools to be the best Japanese fighter in history. It may sound like hyperbole but the potential for this youngster really is limitless.
Last time out Inoue claimed the WBC Light Flyweight title by stopping Mexican Adrian Hernandez in just 6 rounds. The performance was sensational and saw many proclaiming him to be the best fighter at 108lbs. Sadly however he had struggled to make weight for the bout with Hernandez and it seemed almost certain that the fight with Hernandez was going to be Inoue's last at Light Flyweight. Instead however he will continue at the weight for one more fight, defending his world title against Thailand's Samartlek Kokietgym (17-4, 5) in what really is seen as a mismatch. Though for Inoue it's a chance to defend his belt before moving on, something he never did as the Japanese or OPBF champion.
Although viewed as a lamb to the slaughter Samartlek is himself a champion, albeit a PABA champion at 105lbs. Sadly however not only is he moving up a division but he is also facing his best opponent to date in Inoue. Saying that Samartlek has mixed with solid company in the past. He holds a very good win over Muhammad Rachman and a notable one over Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr whilst he has suffered losses to Denver Cuello and Randy Petalcorin, both of whom are world class fighters. Sadly those losses are more notable than the wins with Cuello stopping Samartlek in 9 rounds.
Samartlek is, on paper, on a good run with 9 successive victories including wins this year over Samuel Tehuayo and Domi Nenokeba, both via 6 round decision. Unfortunately that 9 fight streak has seen him scoring just 2 stoppages indicating a real lack of power. Another thing Samartlek lacks is size, even for a fighter in the lowest weights he looks tiny, in fact he sort of looks like a school boy. He has decent enough movement though nothing that should make a world class fighter worry.
With Inoue being a destructive force the only issue he has here is complacency. He has said he's looking for a quick win and if he's not careful that could be his downfall. He has all the advantages in terms of skills, power, speed, size and strength though he will need to keep his head straight and focus on scoring a win rather than looking amazing. If he mows down Samartlek inside a round then that'll be a great way to wave goodbye to 108lbs. If he needs to take a hard fought decision win then he shouldn't feel disappointed with himself. Aged 21 however we all know he'll want to impress the fans and the boxing public who have tuned in to see if he is as good as people say. For what it's worth, he really is as good as people say.
(Image courtesy of our great friends at http://www.thairec.com)
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.