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Naoya Inoue’s eye injury NOT severe, will fight in March or April – Bob Arum

Naoya Inoue

By Robert Addams: Bob Arum says the eye injury IBF/WBA bantamweight champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue suffered this month in the WBSS tournament isn’t great, and he thinks he’ll be back in action in March or April.

The three division world champion Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) suffered a right orbital bone fracture in his victory over WBA bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire earlier this month on November 7.

The two were battling it out in the final of the World Boxing Super Series 118-lb tournament in Saitama, Japan. Inoue’s nose was broken as well.

Inoue suffered his eye injury in the 2nd round, and he had to battle through the problem. Although Inoue came close to knocking Donaire out in the 11th, but he couldn’t do it.

Donaire was able to withstand Inoue’s power. Inoue was hurt in the fight in the 9th from a right hand from Donaire, but he made it through the round by holding and moving. Inoue won by the scores 116-111, 114-113, 117-109.

Arum: Inoue to fight in March or April

“Obviously, I was concerned, but the reports I got from Mr. Honda was that the injuries were not too severe, and that he should be ready to return in March or April,” said Arum to Fighthype about Inoue.

It sounds like Inoue’s right fractured orbital bone wasn’t a bad one like Kell Brook’s from his fight with Gennadiy Golovkin. Brook wound up missing eight months recovering from that injury, and then suffered a similar fracture affecting his other eye in his next bout.

Inoue wants to avenge his brother’s loss to Oubaali

Arum isn’t saying who he plans on matching the 26-year-old Inoue against when he returns to the ring. Inoue mentioned wanting to face WBC bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12 KOs) in a unification fight.

That’s a fight that has a high chance of happening. Oubaali wants to face Inoue, and he thinks he can beat him. Inoue’s brother Takuma lost to Oubaali by a 12 round decision on November 7, and that sets-up a revenge match.

Inoue wants to unify that weight class. WBO champion Zolani Tete is another champion that has a belt that Inoue wants. Besides those two guys, there’s Luis Nery and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Those are tough fighters with power, and not the ideal options for a fighter coming off of an eye injury.

The fight boxing fans want to see is Inoue vs. Emanuel Navarrete. Those two would be a real war. But it’ll need to wait until Inoue moves up to super bantamweight. Inoue might be too small and fragile for a brutal puncher like Navarrete.

Inoue to fight 2 times a year in Las Vegas

“We really worked hard in signing Inoue. I consider him one of the great fighters of our time, and his promoter is coming to Las Vegas for the November 30 show,” said Arum.

“I’ll get a chance to talk to him. We’ll bring Inoue back as soon as he can compete against a top 118-pounder, and we’re making a deal for two fights a year with the MGM.

If Arum is going to have Inoue fight twice a year in the U.S, he’ll need to put him in with good opposition. It worked well in Inoue facing Donaire, because the fight got a lot of publicity in the U.S. The match was shown on DAZN, and a lot of boxing fans tuned in to see it. But if Arum matches Inoue the way he’s matched Terence Crawford and Tyson Fury, it won’t help him to fight in the U.S.

Arum  plans on making ‘Monster’ Inoue into a superstar

“I think Inoue is a special talent. Some kids are talented, but you have to develop them, because they’re babies, like Shakur [Stevenson] and Teofimo Lopez until they’re ready to fly,” said Arum in talking about Inoue.

“Now we’ve got blessed, which you don’t get very often in boxing, with a full grown talent already grown without us. And now we’ve got to make him a big superstar, and that’s what we’re going to do. So the idea is for him to do two fights in the United States, and one fight in Japan every year,” said Arum.

Inoue has good power, but we don’t know if he hits hard enough to dominate the bantamweight division. It’s not just hitting guys. Inoue needs to be able to handle their power in return. Inoue’s face was breaking apart from the shots that Donaire was hitting him with.

Suffering a broken orbital bone and a broken nose could be a sign that Inoue is too thin boned to fight at 118. Of course, Inoue will be fine if he’s the one dishing out all the punishment, but he’s going to get hit back. When that happens, we may see additional facial injuries for Inoue.

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