Naoya Inoue could possibly be the most effective fighter on the earth.
On Boxing Day appropriately, December 26, reside on Sky Sports activities, ‘The Monster’ Inoue fights Marlon Tapales on the Ariake Area in Japan.
Inoue brilliantly gained the WBC and WBO super-bantamweight titles in his final battle, his first at 122lbs, when he knocked out glorious American Stephen Fulton.
With Tapales the holder of the IBF and WBA belts, this conflict gives Inoue the prospect to develop into a two-weight undisputed champion.
Successful that may place Inoue in august firm. Within the four-belt period to this point just one man, Terence Crawford, has gone undisputed in two weight courses.
Inoue’s monitor file of feat is phenomenal. He first gained a world title at light-flyweight, in simply his sixth professional bout.
He gained a championship at super-flyweight earlier than leaping as much as bantamweight, the place amongst his spectacular victories he smashed Jamie McDonnell in a spherical and gained a thriller towards Nonito Donaire, earlier than dismissing ‘ The Filipino Flash’ in simply two rounds in a rematch.
He grew to become the undisputed bantamweight champion final December, and if he beats Tapales will go undisputed in his second weight class in simply over a yr.
What has made such an impression too is the type of his victories.
“A particular fighter, he does every thing nicely. Every thing. I can not discover a fault in him,” stated Corridor of Famer Jane Sofa.
Gary Logan, a boxing coach and pundit, famous: “And what he is actually good at, for those who do discover a weak spot, he shortly closes that door. He shortly closes that door and finds a solution to the reply that you just assume you’ve got discovered.
“He did it with Fulton within the final battle the place he saved touching Fulton with a tough jab to the abdomen. Earlier than Fulton realises it, to guard his abdomen from that arduous jab, he is dropped his left hand and he [Inoue] has introduced by way of that proper hand excessive.
“He is all the time cleverly pressuring you and taking a look at your errors that you just’re making whereas he is pressuring you. So in impact, he is fairly an aggressive counter-puncher.
“However he can even lead as nicely as a result of he is obtained that one-two snap, that uncommon energy, that uncommon timing. In the event you needed to put him in a field, it is the uncommon timing that he has that provides you that snap.
“He is knocking out males that look decidedly greater than him and you could possibly see him going as much as featherweight and doing it.
“Tapales is to not be underestimated however what number of instances have we stated that and he is nonetheless gone on the market and chinned him.”
Josh Taylor is aware of higher than nearly anybody what it takes to develop into an undisputed champion. The Scotsman achieved that feat at super-lightweight.
He is additionally fought on the identical card in Glasgow as Inoue. “He is an important fighter and I am a really large fan of him,” Taylor stated.
He considers Inoue to be at present probably the greatest fighters on the earth at any weight. “He is obtained to be both No 1 or 2. There can be solely two two-weight undisputed world champions [if Inoue beats Tapales].
“These two guys have gotten to take No 1 and No 2. Completely. You have positively obtained to have an argument whether or not it is him or Crawford.”
Todd duBoef, of Prime Rank which promotes Inoue, believes the Japanese star has already established himself because the pound-for-pound greatest within the sport.
“It is exhausting to not recognise him as pound-for-pound No 1 simply due to his physique of labor. He is all the time combating the most effective on the market, whatever the weight division and he is a type of simply decided athletes,” duBoef advised Sky Sports activities.
“I have been within the enterprise since 1993 and once I noticed all these guys developing, you could possibly simply see particular fighters.
“Whether or not it was Floyd Mayweather, whether or not it was Kostya Tszyu, whoever it was and he has that. He has that capacity. He has that ‘it’ issue, the place he is obtained pace, energy, IQ and simply pure domination.
“I feel most individuals would say the Donaire battle, the primary one was a really aggressive, fantastic battle. He obtained tagged early within the battle and fought in all probability at 60 per cent as a result of he had a damaged orbital socket and nonetheless dealt with him, however it was a terrific battle.
“He’s a particular, particular fighter throughout the board,” he added. “His recognition in Japan is simply unbelievable. We might like to have him in America however he’s doing such wonders for the game in that nation.”
Opinion is cut up between Inoue and Crawford as to who’s the pound-for-pound No 1.
“I feel pound-for-pound lists are troublesome. You are pretty much as good as your final battle and it is whose efficiency was probably the most excellent not too long ago. Everybody jumps on that. Crawford was sensational towards Spence however in a means by way of consistency, he [Inoue] is just about sensational each single time,” stated former world title challenger and Sky Sports activities pundit Matthew Macklin.
“He is definitely in that dialog. I feel most individuals would have him No 1 or No 2. I’d say the overall consensus is it is between Inoue and Terence Crawford.”
Sky Sports activities commentator Andy Clarke reckons Crawford does have the sting on that entrance at current. “If Inoue beats Tapales, he’ll develop into undisputed in his second weight division however I’d nonetheless put him behind Terence Crawford, I feel as a result of Crawford’s achievement of unifying at welterweight, I’d put above Inoue’s at super-bantamweight,” Clarke stated.
“As a result of he beat [Errol] Spence and that was a large battle. I might put their achievement at bantamweight and super-lightweight comparatively even. So I’d give Crawford the sting over ‘The Monster’.
“I’d nonetheless put Crawford forward of Inoue 1703495500 as a result of his win towards Spence to unify at welterweight and the way of it, given the opposition, will prime Inoue unifying towards Tapales.”
However that could be a staggeringly excessive bar and Inoue might definitely outshine Crawford in future, particularly if he strikes as much as one more weight class.
Inoue, Todd duBoef believes, can and can do exactly that. “Might he run by way of the 126lb division? I would not put something previous him. Most likely,” duBoef stated.
“Relying on the ’30lber I feel you could possibly probably put him in a ’30lbs match however I feel he will actually cap out at 126lbs.
“For measurement functions, I am undecided we see Inoue above 126lbs.”
Successful titles there, in a powerful featherweight division, would put Inoue on the very summit of the game, though Oleksandr Usyk might be a part of him and Crawford as a two-weight undisputed champion if he had been to beat Tyson Fury in February.
Clarke famous: “It is all the time doable after all if Inoue strikes as much as featherweight, I feel all of us count on that he’ll, then possibly he might eclipse [Crawford] by successful a world title in that weight division. There’s Usyk to contemplate as nicely. If he beats Fury then he is proper up there.”
Matt Christie, editor of Boxing Information, stated: “It is a troublesome enterprise predicting the place a fighter can be ranked in the event that they win in a battle that’s but to occur. I feel within the case of Naoya Inoue, who everyone knows is a superb, gifted and thrilling fighter, even when he appears to be like like I feel he will look on Boxing Day and wins in good type, at Boxing Information we nonetheless can have Terence Crawford as the game’s main fighter.
“I feel for those who have a look at what he did in 2023, albeit in only one efficiency, within the victory over Errol Spence who for a very long time was thought to be Crawford’s closest rival, and lots of earlier than that battle thought that Spence would win, the way by which Crawford took him aside I feel units a really excessive benchmark within the sport that even Inoue in the meanwhile cannot fairly match.
“However what we’re set for within the sport of boxing, with these two main the way in which and doubtlessly Oleksandr Usyk in February to affix them is a sport that is very, very wholesome on the prime.”
Watch Inoue vs Tapales reside on Sky Sports activities on the morning of December 26, the undercard from 8am, predominant occasion after 10am