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Naoya Inoue vs. John Riel Casimero negotiations have started

Naoya Inoue

By Dean Berman: Talks have started between bantamweight champions Naoya Inoue and John Riel Casimero for a unification fight, according to Michael Benson. Casimero’s representative Sean Gibbons will be sitting down with Inoue’s promoters Bob Arum and Akihiko Honda to put together a deal next week for a fight in March or April of next year.

Top Rank is trying to turn IBF/WBA bantamweight champion Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) into a star in the United States, and the only way they can do that is by putting him in against the best possible opponents each time out.  Inoue is going to be hard for  Casimero to beat, but anything is possible.

A win for the 26-year-old Inoue of Japan over Casimero will likely see him pushed up the Ring Magazine pound-for-pound rankings from the #3 spot to #2. The current Ring P-4-P rankings looks like this:

  • #1. Canelo Alvarez
  • #2. Vasiliy Lomachenko
  • #3. Naoya Inoue
  • #4. Terence Crawford

Inoue coming off career best win over Donaire

In his last fight, Inoue picked up his biggest career win with a hard fought 12 round unanimous decision win over former four division world champion Nonito Donaire on November 7.

The two 118-lb champions were fighting in a unification bout in the final of the World Boxing Super Series tournament in Saitama, Japan. The fight was an exciting match with both guys getting hurt. Ultimately, Inoue’s youth and talent enabled him to proveil, but the victory came at a cost. Inoue suffered a cracked right orbital bone, and a broken nose.

Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs) defeated WBO bantamweight champion Zolani Tete by a 3rd round knockout last month on November 30 in Birmingham. A lot of boxing fans expected Tete to have too much size, and power for Casimero going into that contest. Casimero shocked the world by dropping Tete twice in round 3 to score a knockout. The foot speed and power of Casimero is what led to Tete’s downfall in that fight.

Inoue will likely be a heavy favorite over Casimero 

Inoue will be the favorite, but the hard hitting Casimero has a good chance if he can withstand his power and land shots. What we’ve learned from watching Inoue’s matches against Donaire and David Carmona is he doesn’t take punishment nearly as well as he dishes it out, and he can be hurt. Inoue looked worried in both of those fights when he couldn’t make them go away.

That’s the problem with knockout artists that get accustomed to stopping their opponents early in their fights. When they meet up with guys that doesn’t fold immediately, they struggle, and lose. It’s only a matter of time before Inoue loses his first fight, and it could come against Casimero in their fight in March or April.

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