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Naoya Inoue vs. John Riel Casimero announced for 4/25 in Las Vegas, NV

Naoya Inoue

By Jeff Aronow: Naoya “Monster” Inoue will be fighting the powerful John Riel Casimero in two months from now in a unification bout on April 25 on ESPN+ at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The two bantamweight champions will have their respective titles on the line when they meet up.

‘Monster’ Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) will be putting up his IBF/WBA 118-lb belts, whereas Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs) will have his WBO bantamweight strap up for grabs.

Inoue vs. Casimero has knockout written all over it

This is a compelling match-up between two past three-division world champions, and with both huge punchers. It’s one of those fights that will surely end in a knockout, and it’s difficult to predict a winner with any degree of accuracy.

Inoue, 26, will likely be a big favorite, but that doesn’t matter. As we saw in Casimero’s last fight against Zolani Tete, he’s more than capable of proving the odds-makers wrong with his punching power and talent.

Inoue is coming off of the hardest fight of his career in defeating WBA bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire by a 12 round decision last November in the WBSS final . The shots that Donaire landed in the fight broke Inoue’s nose, fractured his left orbital ridge and cut him. Inoue escaped with a win, but the punishment he absorbed from Donaire may have left a mark on him.

Inoue with mileage on him from Donaire fight

It’s clear that Inoue won’t be coming into the fight with Casimero as fresh as he was going into the Donaire contest. Before facing Donaire, Inoue had been blowing out his over-matched opposition in stopping his last seven opponents in six rounds or less dating back to 2016.

The last – and only time – that Inoue had gone 12 rounds before facing Donaire was his fight against David Carmona in May 2016. Inoue wasn’t a happy camper in the Carmona fight in having to take a lot of shots, and he looked very uncomfortable getting.

In the Donaire fight, Inoue’s face was falling apart from the hard punches from ‘The Filipino Flash’ in that fight. For this reason, you cannot rule out a victory for Casimero on April 25 if he’s able to get Inoue involved in a long 12 round war of attrition.

Which fighter is tougher?

This fight could come down to which of the two fighters is tougher, and more willing/capable of enduring the hard shots they’ll be throwing at each other. Inoue is so accustomed to knocking guys out right away, and he’s not shown that he’s able to take the punishment in return without getting flustered. The ‘Monster’ Inoue looked stressed against Donaire and Carmona despite being in the lead throughout both fights.

Casimero could make it tough on Inoue

“The ‘Monster’ is coming to Las Vegas, and we couldn’t be more excited,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “He is a generational talent, a fierce competitor who is ready to take the United States by storm. Casimero is a seasoned champion, and Inoue knows he’s in for a firefight at Mandalay Bay.”

On paper, this is the second best opponent Inoue will have faced during his eight-year pro career, and the second best puncher. Although Inoue has faced some quality operators over the years, they didn’t have the kind of power that Casimero has going for him.

That’s why this fight is going to be interesting to watch. If Inoue can’t get Casimero out of there early, he’s going to have to take his power. The criticism that Inoue has as a fighter is that he dishes it out well, but he doesn’t look great when his opponents hit him back.

If Inoue’s opponents fail to crumble right away, he gets nervous, and reacts like his arguably less talented brother Takuma Inoue in losing his composure. During those times, Inoue doesn’t look like a battle hardened warrior. He looks more like a bully that is suddenly being confronted by someone not afraid of him.

Inoue will need to move a lot against Casimero

If Casimero doesn’t fold up immediately like many of Inoue’s past opponents, we could see an upset. If Inoue starts getting beaten up like he was against Donaire, he’ll get on his bike, and look to win by hitting and moving. It won’t be thrilling to watch, but it might be the only way Inoue can win this fight.

Casimero’s foot speed, and his ability to close the distance will be key here. He moves a lot better than Donaire. When Inoue ran from Donaire, there wasn’t much he could do about it, because he didn’t have the foot speed to catch him. Casimero is a different story. He’s capable of getting to Inoue quickly if he uses movement, and he could force him to fight when he doesn’t want to.

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