Friday, June 02, 2023  |



Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue could return in fall

Fighters Network
Naoya Inoue (L) digs to the body of then-WBO titleholder Omar Narvaez en route to a second-round knockout. Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images.

Naoya Inoue (L) finds then-WBO titleholder Omar Narvaez with a hard left en route to a second-round knockout. Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images.

Naoya Inoue made a huge statement to the boxing world on the penultimate day of 2014. The burgeoning star ripped the WBO junior bantamweight crown from the grasp of long-reigning titlist Omar Narvaez in two emphatic rounds.

The win was all the more impressive because it was just Inoue’s eighth pro fight. In comparison, it was 47th fight of the Argentine champions impressive career and his 31st world-title fight. It was also the Japanese fighters first at 115 pounds, having previously operated at 108 where he was the reigning WBC belt holder.

The 22-year-old fighter is understandably still pleased at living up to his moniker: “Monster.”

I am very delighted that I was able to beat Mr. Narvaez,” a respectful Inoue told through translator Tomoyuki Kataoka. “One of the remarkable champions in the world, and in accordance with the bout I could receive recognition in the boxing industries all over the world.”

The only downside to the eye-opening win was a hand injury that has kept Naoya out of the ring since.

I injured my right hand during the bout with Mr. Narvaez,” he said of the injury. “Precisely, I got injured when I hit him with a punch which made him hit the canvas for the first time during the first round of the bout.”

The rehabilitation has been slow but finally things seem to be moving in the right direction.

Inoue has stayed in shape but hasn’t been using his right hand. He started sparring earlier this month and says he’ll be stepping things up “doing sparring in full power” starting next week.

It remains early to say but the plan suggests a fall return. It is believed that the opponent will be either WBO No. 1 contender Warlito Parrenas or No. 2 David Carmona, who fought to a draw in July.

Former WBA and WBC strawweight champion Hideyuki Ohashi, head of Ohashi Promotions, has helped mastermind the dramatic emergence of Inoue, his younger brother Takuma, rising bantamweight Ryo Matsumoto, two-time world champion Akira Yaegashi and several others.

Ohashi has high hopes for his young fighter: “I would like to make him one of the greatest boxers in the world, who will be able to fight in a main event of a big boxing event in Las Vegas. There might be many boxers to be targeted for him. However, I, of course, understand that Mr. Roman Gonzalez shall be the one that most boxing fans want him to fight with.”

That fight is one on HBO‘s radar Peter Nelson, vice president of programming for HBO Sports, told earlier this year.

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