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Naoya Inoue vs. Jason Moloney – preview

Naoya Inoue

By Jim Maltzman: IBF/WBA bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) will be in action tonight, looking to impress American fans on Top Rank’s card against Jason Moloney (21-1-1, 18 KOs).

This is an important fight for the 27-year-old Inoue, as he wants to show the U.S fans more of his game from the last time he was in the States against Antonio Nieves in 2017.

Inoue has got a better opponent in front of him tonight in 29-year-old Australian Moloney, who will be putting it on him just as his last opponent Nonito Donaire did. If this fight turns out to be as difficult as Inoue’s last contest against Donaire, he might not win.

Inoue was taking a lot of punishment against Donaire, and he had to dig deep to get the win. Fighting with an injured eye and a broken nose, Inoue had a hard time winning. Naoya did win a 12 round decision, but it was a grueling match.

Naoya Inoue

Inoue and Moloney will be fighting behind closed doors in ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Inoue not satisfied with his boxing

“To tell you the truth, I’m not entirely satisfied with my boxing,” Inoue said to Top Rank. “But I would like to work on becoming number one. I’ll tell you that much. To train as hard as I’m currently doing.

“I would say the gravity of what people expect of me has changed,” Naoya said when asked what’s changed since the last time he fought in the U.S three years ago.

“I’m here in America to fight as a more experienced boxer. That’s the biggest difference between now and three years ago. There’s the question of whether I’ll be able to keep up my performance here in the United States.

“I’m sure the press and the fans here want to see that,” said Monster Inoue.

Naoya has become too reliant on his slugging, and he’s left out the boxing part of his game. He’s going to need that eventually when he begins facing more fighters that he can’t knockout.

With fighters that possess huge power like Donaire, Inoue will be vulnerable against them if he doesn’t work on his boxing game.

Moloney knows that Inoue is vulnerable after watching the tough time he had against 37-year-old Donaire last November.

Many boxing fans would agree that if Donaire were in the prime of his career, still, Inoue wouldn’t have made it to the final bell.

Naoya Inoue

You could tell from watching that fight that Inoue lacked the ruggedness to deal with Donaire’s prime version. That’s why Moloney has a shot at winning tonight because he’s in his prime and still young at 29.

Donaire had Monster Inoue seeing double

“From the second round on, I was seeing double,” Inoue said about his last contest against Nonito Donaire. “There were basically two Donaires in front of me, and I was moving by instinct.

“If I were my normal self, I wouldn’t have hit like that. I got to say I found out what I wanted to know about myself through that fight. I always knew I was tough, but I never experienced anything like that in a fight until now.

“Maybe I got to know all there is to know through that fight,” said Inoue.

It was lucky that Inoue could get out of the fight with Donaire in one piece without being knocked out because he took some huge shots.

Early on, Inoue was trying to knock him out, and he left himself open for quite a few counter left hooks and right hands.

Naoya Inoue

If Donaire’s accuracy were still in top form like in his younger days, Inoue probably wouldn’t have lasted more than two or three rounds. He was there to be hit by Donaire and was vulnerable.

Top Rank wants to turn Inoue into a star, but he’s going to need to look a lot better than we saw him in his last fight for that to happen.

If Inoue gets past Moloney tonight, Top Rank needs to match him against WBO bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero. That fight has been marinating for too long, and they need to get it over with already.

If Naoya wants to become a star in a hurry, he can make that possible by beating fighters like Casimero.

Monster Inoue’s focus isn’t on destroying his opponents

“I don’t box with destroying my opponent in mind,” continued Inoue. “I don’t think that’s all there is to it. So I want to show people a variety of my skills.

“It all depends on what I do in these fights,” Monster Inoue said when asked what he needs to do to leave his mark on the sport. “That’s where I’ve got to leave my mark.”

Inoue’s last fight against Donaire gave him an important less to depend on his power. There are many guys that Inoue won’t be able to knockout, and if he doesn’t possess the defensive skills to avoid their power shots, he’s going to get broken apart.

Donaire was doing that to Inoue last November, but he ran out of time to finish the job. That fight should be a wake-up call for Inoue that he’s got to develop other parts of his game because it’s only a matter of time before he gets knocked out.

Naoya Inoue

As we observed in Inoue’s fight against David Carmona in 2016, it doesn’t take a big puncher to give him huge problems. Carmona showed how dangerous a non-puncher could be to Inoue as he took his best shots and continued to nail the Japanese star with return fire.

Inoue looked angry and was over-swinging, trying got knockout Carmona, but it wasn’t going to happen. The fight turned out to be a rough one for Inoue, and it’s clear that any fighter that can take his power has the potential of wearing him down.

Moloney has better skills on offense than Carmona, and his power is excellent as well.  Inoue will need to focus on defense tonight if he doesn’t want to get knocked out by Moloney.

That would be embarrassing because Top Rank is hyping Inoue as the next superstar, and it would be a huge let down if Moloney beat him.

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