Saturday, April 01, 2023  |


Naoya Inoue to make U.S. debut in next fight

Inoue blasts Ricardo Rodriguez with an uppercut. Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Fighters Network

Last month, Naoya Inoue easily retained his WBO junior bantamweight title for the fifth time, knocking out the overmatched Ricardo Rodriguez in the third round in Tokyo, Japan.

Inoue (13-0, 11 knockouts) had his way with Rodriguez, dropping him twice before the Mexican was counted out at the 1:08 mark of the round.

The fight was televised in Japan on Fuji TV and drew an average rating of 9.7 percent, though it peaked at 12.3 percent.

The uber-talented 24-year-old was pleased with his performance overall.

“(Rodriguez) started coming forward in the early rounds and I was able to land my counterpunches on him,” Inoue told through Tomoyuki Kataoka. “I switched from orthodox to southpaw style for a while during the bout because I thought that my left-hand punches from southpaw stance would be effective.”

His next move appears to be a widely anticipated American debut.

“I have a plan to fight in U.S. in (my next fight),” he stated. “However, I cannot disclose on it yet.”

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Former WBA and WBC strawweight titlist Hideyuki Ohashi, head of Ohashi Promotions, which manages Inoue, also wouldn’t be drawn out, only saying, “His next bout will be held in U.S. The fight will be a defense of his junior bantamweight championship. The details will be determined soon.”

Rumors suggest the fight will take place in September on the undercard of Roman Gonzalez’s return to action.

Following the Rodriguez win, Inoue enjoyed a two-day break in Hokkaido, in the north of Japan, and then returned to Yokohama to resume training.

Although he’s already a two-weight champion, “The Monster” has designs on adding to that collection.

“I would like to win a world champion in my third weight class, bantamweight, and make some unification bouts,” he said.

Whilst it was a good night for Inoue and several of their up-and-comers gained wins, Ohashi Promotions also lost a world champion.

“I was very disappointed by the loss of (IBF junior flyweight champion Akira) Yaegashi, since he had trained very well before the bout,” said Ohashi. “He commenced training the day after the bout. I am convinced that he will go to the ring again.

“(Andy) Hiraoka faced an uphill bout, although he won. It was a bitter but good lesson for him.

“(Ryo) Matsumoto and (Satoshi) Shimizu are growing up significantly. In the near future, Matsumoto will fight for a world title and Shimizu will fight for a Japanese or Oriental-Pacific title (OPBF).”

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