Thursday, March 30, 2023  |


Ring Ratings Update: Naoya Inoue moves up in style

Naoya Inoue lived up to his "Monster" moniker with his first-round demolition of highly rated bantamweight Jamie McDonnell. Photo / Naoki Fukuda
Fighters Network

Everyone agrees that former 115-pound titleholder Naoya Inoue looked sensational in his bantamweight debut last Friday in Tokyo. Inoue (16-0, 14 knockouts), THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior bantamweight, blasted Jamie McDonnell (29-3-1, 13 KOs), THE RING’s No. 2-rated 118 pounder, in less than a round.

Inoue has climbed to the top of a third weight class in just 16 pro bouts. Photo / Naoki Fukuda

The 25-year-old Japanese star instantly became a major bantamweight player and the likely favorite of the upcoming World Boxing Super Series tournament in the 118-pound division. But was “The Monster” impressive enough advance from his current No. 7 spot in THE RING’s Pound-for-Pound rankings? After all, McDonnell, who had never been stopped previously, was the fifth top-rated opponent in a third weight class that Inoue has faced.

Strangely, Inoue’s pound-for-pound status was not brought up by Anson Wainwright or Martin Mulcahey, the two Ratings Panel members that usually kick off the weekly email chain discussion. So, I brought up the subject and asked if anyone thought The Monster should advance.

“Not for me,” responded Wainwright. “It was a good win, excellent in fact. Inoue looked terrific, but McDonnell struggled to make the weight and had nothing left. McDonnell is a sturdy guy but not someone that advances you in the pound for pound rankings if you beat him. If Inoue moved up (in THE RING’s Pound-for-Pound rankings) he’d go above Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and the Thai’s wins over Roman Gonzalez and Juan Estrada are very impressive, much more so that beating McDonnell.”

I pointed out to Wainwright that the pound-for-pound rankings take a boxer’s entire body of work into account, and in Inoue’s case, he was a two-division titleholder by his eighth pro bout. The precocious boxer-puncher has arguably accomplished as much in 16 pro bouts that Mikey Garcia, who is No. 5 in THE RING’s mythical rankings, has in 38 pro bouts.

Panel member Adam Abramowitz, who is seldom shy with his opinions, agreed with my argument.

“I think Inoue should move up to No. 4,” he said. “I like his resume more than the three rated above him.

Inoue finished McDonnell quickly. Does that say more about the English veteran than it does the Japanese phenom? Photo / Naoki Fukuda

“He beat who many thought was the No. 1 guy in two divisions (Adrian Hernandez and Omar Narvaez) and a secondary titleholder (McDonnell) in a third division. I think that speaks for itself. Anyway, I’ve made the case. If the group doesn’t see it that way, I understand. And for the record I think that Sor Rungvisai should be much higher than he currently is…water under the bridge now.”

Wainwright still wasn’t convinced.

“The Narvaez win is very good, Inoue blew him out after he went shut-up shop against (Nonito) Donaire and did the same with (Zolani) Tete,” he said. “However, he made seven (115-pound title) defenses (against) nobody of any great shakes, best win was against (Kohei) Kono. I love Inoue, but his resume, in my opinion, isn’t what Srisaket’s is. Twice beating Chocolatito, second time definitively, and last time out vs. Estrada. I have no problem with Inoue moving up, but come on McDonnell isn’t any great shakes, (he’s a) sturdy, solid guy but he isn’t top notch. Gonzalez and Estrada were, or in Estrada’s case, very close.

“To me this win cements his position and shows we were correct having him at No. 7.”

I see both sides, but I think Inoue’s performance and impressive body of work (compiled in under 20 pro bouts) merits a move up of at least one spot in the pound-for-pound rankings. Sor Rungvisai is a card-carrying badass who I admire, and he will have an opportunity to advance ahead of Inoue and perhaps those in front of The Monster with his next fight. 

POUND FOR POUND: Inoue advances to No. 6. 

JUNIOR FEATHERWEIGHT: No. 9-rated Julio Ceja drops out after suffering a fifth-round stoppage to unrated and unheralded Franklin Manzanilla. Emanuel Navarette (24-1, 21 KOs), a 23-year-old puncher from Mexico City, enters at No. 10. 

BANTAMWEIGHT: Inoue enters at No. 2. Jamie McDonnell (who admits that he needs to move up in weight) drops out.

JUNIOR BANTAMWEIGHT: No. 1-rated Inoue exits. No. 9-rated Jonas Sultan, who was rather one-dimensional while losing a unanimous decision to No. 3-rated Jerwin Ancajas last Saturday in Fresno,

Shiro spears Ganigan with a jab before stopping the Mexican veteran with a body shot. Photo / Naoki Fukuda

California, drops out. Australian up-and-comer Andrew Moloney (17-0, 10 KOs) enters at No. 9. Wenfeng Ge (10-0, 6 KOs), a 31-year-old Chinese standout, enters at No. 10.

JUNIOR FLYWEIGHT: No. 2-rated Ken Shiro holds his place after stopping No. 6-rated Ganigan Lopez, who drops to No. 9.




Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer

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