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Boxing’s next superstar, Naoya Inoue

Naoya Inoue is a star in the making, you might look at his pint-sized weight class of 118 lbs, or bantamweight if you care to use terms and boxing lingo, or his previous weight class of 108 lbs or 115 lbs, and scoff, but you’d be wrong.

The fighter who is trained by his father Shingo Inoue is organically building a following in weight classes that don’t typically have big fight night feels, but rather streams at odd hours from remote locations. In fact, when he fought Jamie McDonnell more than one person I know set their alarm for 4:00 am to see the one round of action.

Since 2014, Inoue has held belts in three weight classes, light flyweight, super flyweight and is the current WBA and IBF bantamweight world champion. 

The devastating power puncher from Japan, who is modest in demeanor packs beyond a fierce punch as he is moving up weight classes while not losing his power which is reminiscent of Manny Pacquiao, yet bigger than his foes in the lighter weights, like Nonito Donaire Jr., who coincsidenctly happens to be Inoue’s next opponent in the World Boxing Super Series final.

Inoue is the critics pick. He is a deep dive comparable to a record collector scoping through obscure records only to find a criminally underplayed classic by an artist, who never got their proper shine. Inoue will get his shine, he is fair too talented not too, but in due time. 

On top of all of this 12-0 in world title fights despite having only eighteen professional fights and is 7-0 against former or current world champions stopping all of them except David Carmona.

The Lower Weights

Let’s be honest, most people are not drawn to the lower weights in boxing. Really anything below 126 lbs, rarely gets televised and anything below 135 lbs, is subject to snide remarks about how big the individual is, etc. We can sit here and preach to you about “how you have to watch Inoue”, but the truth is, if you don’t like these weight classes, a sermon on why you ought to watch will further jade you from the sport of boxing rather than help further the sport. So why should we do that?

Point blank period, Inoue is good. really, really good. Early in his career, he has amassed a career that is hall-of-fame worthy now he is going on a run to be a pivotal star of boxing, which is the only thing left for him to accomplish in his career. Inoue is the category of the modern greats and still hasn’t even headlined a card in America.

Destroying world champions

Inoue’s second round knockout of IBF bantamweight world champion Emmanuel Rodriguez was just par for the course for his typical destruction of world class opposition. Inoue knocked out Juan Carlos Payano with the only two punches he threw in the first round of that bout, similarly he stopped terrific bantamweight world champion Jamie McDonnell in the first round as well. 

Keep in mind, this is in just the past year or so. Inoue feels like an alien at times, just levels stronger than his opponents.

Prior to this he was beating the best at the lower weights, good fighters, who fans just don’t know about, but were the world’s best.


Inoue is the big, little man. He is constantly much larger and strong than his opponent, but is also more skilled as well. Inoue has a good use of distance punches at good range with good snap and rarely smoothers. Inoue is a tactical power puncher, who hits like Deontay Wilder in the lower weights, quite simply, if he lands it is hard for most to take it.

He is like Nonito Donaire 2.0, whereas Donaire focused on looking for big power punches without setting them up at times, Inoue has that power with composure and discipline looking to land a devastating shot.

Inoue is looking to be one of the interesting fighters of this generation and someone who early in his career offers star qualities 

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle