Naoya Inoue is perhaps the greatest current boxer you haven’t heard of yet.
The 28-year-old pound-for-pound sensation from Japan has become a real superstar in her homeland, but has rarely fought abroad until very recently.
talkSPORT.com Top 10 pound for pound
- Canelo Allvarez (56-1-2)
- Terence Crawford (37-0)
- Naoya Inoue (20-0)
- Oleksandr Usyk (18-0)
- Josh Taylor (18-0)
- Teofimo López (16-0)
- Vasyl Lomachenko (14-2)
- Errol Spence (27-0)
- Tyson Fury (30-0-1)
- Juan Estrada (41-3)
As a young pro, Inoue reached the world level at just 6-0 and won the WBC lightweight flyweight title in 2014 at just 20 years old.
He made a defense before jumping two divisions at super flyweight and dethroning the then king of consensus – Omar Narvaez.
Prior to facing Inoue, Narvaez was a longtime WBO champion who held titles in two divisions since 2002 and had never been floored in his entire career.
He had only lost once – to legendary Nonito Donaire – and it was a points loss.
When he entered the ring with the man known as “The Monster” he was down in 30 seconds.
After another 30 seconds, Narvaez was struck down again and barely survived the opening session after being severely pummeled in the head and body.
Inoue finished his relentless demolition job in the second round with two more knockdowns that kept Narvaez from continuing.
This, in his eighth pro fight at just 21, was a major statement.
Inoue built his fame in Japan, winning several title defenses in the super flyers before moving to bantamweight in 2018.
He made his division debut crushing highly rated British veteran Jamie McDonnell in one round and then announced he was entering the World Boxing Super Series tournament.
In the quarterfinals, Inoue blew up Juan Carlos Payano with a superb knockout with a punch in the first round.
And then, in the semifinals, he brilliantly destroyed the undefeated Emmanuel Rodriguez in two rounds to win his IBF title and become the three-weight world champion.
The final was more difficult than expected as Inoue met the legendary Donaire.
Together they produced the fight of the year 2019 as Inoue was rocked for the first time in his career and suffered a serious eye injury.
Regardless, he always fought and forced Donaire to the canvas with a body blow.
Inoue ultimately prevailed by unanimous decision, unifying the WBA and IBF bantamweight titles while simultaneously collecting the WBSS Ring Magazine belt trophy.
Today, Inoue signed a co-promotion agreement with the American powerhouse Top Rank and built his global profile.
At 28, ‘The Monster’ is entering the prime of his already magnificent career.
This weekend, he will face his compulsory IBF Michael Dasmarinas.
In truth, it should be an easy night’s work for Inoue against an outclassed foe.
Regardless, it’ll probably be worth logging in to see yet another masterful destruction from one of the best offensive fighters in the sport right now.
Then, we hope, more unifications and greater battles await you.