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Naoya Inoue: Is he the next Pacquiao?

Manny Pacquiao Naoya Inoue

By William Lloyd: IBF/WBA bantamweight champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue is viewed by some boxing fans as the next Manny Pacquiao, and they believe he can achieve some of what the legendary Filipino star has during his long career.

Top Rank wants to turn Inoue into a mega-star in the U.S along the same lines as Pacquiao, but they’ve got their work cut out for them.

Inoue needs a lot of time to build up his fanbase in America, and, of course, he must face high-caliber opposition.

Inoue is trailing Pacquiao’s early accomplishments

The then 29-year-old Pacquiao’s popularity soared through the roof when he defeated Oscar De La Hoya by an eighth-round stoppage in 2008 at welterweight.

Manny Pacquiao Naoya Inoue

Pacquiao was just a little bit older than the 28-year-old Naoya Inoue is now when he rose to superstardom in the United States. With that said, Pacquiao had already beaten the following huge names during his career:

  • Marco Antonio Barrera
  • Erik Morales
  • Juan Manuel Marquez

In contrast, the only big name on Inoue’s nine-year professional resume is Nonito Donaire, and he struggled in beating him in 2019.  Inoue’s victory over Donaire paled in comparison to Pacquiao’s early victories over De La Hoya, Marquez, Morales, and Barrera.

Tonight, Inoue will be showcasing his talent on ESPN in defending against #1 IBF Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20 KOs) at the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

‘Monster’ Inoue will be fighting for the second consecutive time in the U.S and will be looking to outdo his last performance against Jason Moloney on October 31st.

At the early age of 28, the Japanese star Inoue (20-0, 17 KO) has already captured world titles in three weight classes.

That’s obviously far short of what the eight-division world champion Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) has accomplished during his own career, but it’s still impressive.

Inoue had problems with Donaire

What some boxing fans question about Inoue is his ability to take the punishment the way Pacquiao has in winning his fights. In watching Inoue’s face break apart in his clash with Nonito Donaire in November 2019, he looked fragile.

Manny Pacquiao Naoya Inoue

Donaire broke Inoue’s nose and right orbital bone in the second round. He also hurt Inoue with a booming right hand in the ninth round that wobbled him. Inoue’s face was bloodied in the ninth, and he looked a mess.

The way that Inoue was crumbling from Donaire’s punches, makes it difficult to see the Japanese star as the next Pacquiao.

What the fight showed is that Inoue can dish out punishment just fine, but when it comes to taking it in return, he’s susceptible to suffering injuries.

Inoue has fought just once since his grueling fight with Donaire, beating the light-hitter Jason Moloney by a seventh-round knockout last October.

‘Monster’ Inoue hasn’t had to worry about getting hurt by a powerful punch again as of yet, but he could run into problems tonight against Dasmarinas because he has excellent power.

Although Dasmarinas’s shots aren’t on the same level as Donaire, he still has excellent pop.

Inoue must climb through the weight divisions

“Inoue has a huge market in Japan,” said MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons to Sky Sports. “Can he really cross over into the real mainstream in the US like The Senator did? Pacquiao was generational.”

It’s one thing for Inoue to be popular in his home country of Japan, but it’s a different story for him to do the same in the U.S. I mean, Ryota Murata is a huge star in Japan as well, but he’s viewed as the weakest link among the champions at 160.

For Inoue to become a Pacquiao-level star in the U.S, he’s going to need to beat the best for a long, long time. When I say ‘beat the best,’ I’m talking about Inoue beating these fighters:

  • Nonito Donaire
  • John Riel Casimero
  • Guillermo Rigondeaux
  • Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
  • Roman Gonzalez
  • Juan Francisco Estrada
  • Murodjon Akhmadaliev
  • Danny Roman
  • Gary Russell Jr
  • Emanuel Navarrete
  • Oscar Valdez
  • Gervonta Davis

In other words, Inoue will need to stride through the different weight classes, beating the best as he goes, for him to become the next Pacquiao Inoue won’t become the next Pacquiao if he stays at 118 for the remainder of his career.

The Japanese star will need to at least capture world titles in three to four more weight classes to become the next Pacquiao. That means, Inoue will need to win world titles in the following divisions:

  • 122
  • 126
  • 130

Can Naoya accomplish what Pacquiao did?

If Inoue does that, he’ll be a six-division world champion, which is impressive. It would still be far short of the eight-division world titles that Pacquiao has won, but it might be as good as he can hope for.

“He makes me speechless when I watch him,” Todd duBoef, the president of Top Rank who promote Inoue, tells Sky Sports. “I’ve been in the business since 1993 but when you see speed, power in both hands, boxing IQ the way he has? He is just gripping.

“He is as exciting a fighter as anyone who has come out of Asia. He is the most exciting thing since Manny Pacquiao in the United State




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