Friday, May 17, 2024  |



Naoya Inoue strives to improve

Photo credit: Naoki Fukuda
Fighters Network

Naoya Inoue lived up to his moniker of “Monster,” demolishing durable former world champion Kohei Kono in six one-sided rounds on Dec. 30 to retain his WBO junior bantamweight title at the Ariake Colosseum, Tokyo, Japan.

Inoue (12-0, 10 knockouts) looked sensational walking Kono – 13 years his senior at 36 – down and with ease, becoming the first man to stop his countryman, doing so in eye-opening fashion.

The wunderkind was keen to praise Kono’s resilience, while also being relatively pleased with his own performance.

“He was extraordinarily full of spirit for the bout,” Inoue told through translator Tomoyuki Kataoka. “I have never felt such spirit from any opponent. Therefore, the fight was a great experience for me. I should express my thanks to him.

“My perfection level at the bout seemed to be 70 percent, since I could not commence preparing for the bout as early as possible, because of my backache. However, the condition of my body itself was very good and therefore I was able to perform well.”

Former WBA and WBC strawweight titlist Hideyuki Ohashi, head of Ohashi Promotions, which manages Inoue, was happy with his fighter’s performance.

“Prior to the bout, I was aware of his lack of practice because of his backache,” said Ohashi. “However, he was able to do intense and concentrated sparring and exercises and, therefore, I think that he could perform well against Mr. Kono.

“As Naoya said, I am of the view that his perfection level of the bout was 70 percent. He must be stronger and stronger.”

Injuries are nothing new to Inoue; having beaten Omar Narvaez two years ago, he suffered a bad injury to his right hand that kept him on the shelf for a year.

In his second fight back, earlier this year, he badly bruised both hands against David Carmona.

Thankfully, he came through this fight unscathed.

Although, Kono was doubtlessly a top opponent, Inoue doesn’t consider it to be his best performance, not even since the Narvaez win.

“No, it was not,” he said before agreeing with Ohashi. “It was not the best fight I have ever done. I have to work in training.”

Both men are now looking to the future. It is believed that the target date for Inoue’s next fight will be the Golden Week, which will be in late April-early May.

As for whom or what is next, Ohashi says there are several options but wouldn’t be drawn on them, at this time, but did state his fighter is comfortable at 115-pounds.

“Naoya has no plan to move up in weight at the current moment,” said the promoter. “I have no concrete plan to have Naoya go to the U.S. yet. However, of course, Naoya and I would like to go to the U.S. in order for him to achieve fame all around the world.”




Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.



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