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Naoya Inoue rated #1 in Ring Magazine’s updated pound-for-pound list

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By Sean Jones: Ring Magazine has elevated bantamweight champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue to the #1 spot, ahead of Oleksandr Usyk, in their updated pound-for-pound list this week following his second-round knockout win over 39-year-old Nonito Donaire last Tuesday night in Saitama, Japan.

Given Naoya Inoue’s weak resume from top to bottom, you can argue that he doesn’t deserve to be on the pound-for-pound list at all, let alone at the #1 spot. Of course, Sean Jones looks at resumes when he’s rating fighters.

It’s a highly questionable move on the Ring Magazine staff’s part, as Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs) beat a well past his prime Donaire (42-7, 28 KOs), who will be turning 40-years-old this year. This isn’t the Donaire from a decade ago.

‘Monster’ Inoue’s best wins have come against less than the best fighters, and he’d burned through his last three years fighting lesser opposition instead of being matched against the best.

It’s excellent that Inoue destroyed Donaire, but we are talking about a fighter pushing 40-years-old. Where will Inoue be when he’s Donaire’s age? Will he still be at the top? Sean Jones doubts it because Inoue is a fighter that thrives on hand speed, and those guys fall apart once they slow down.

Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) should still be #1 in Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound list based on his wins over Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight and being undisputed at cruiserweight.

Ring Magazine’s updated pound-for-pound list

1. Naoya Inoue
2. Oleksandr Usyk
3. Terence Crawford
4. Errol Spence
5. Juan Estrada
6. Canelo Alvarez
7. Vasyl Lomachenko
8. Dmitry Bivol
9. Josh Taylor
10. Jermell Charlo

“I saw the knockout; he’s a beast,” said promoter Eddie Hearn to iFL TV about the recent second-round knockout win by IBF/WBA bantamweight champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue last Tuesday night against WBC champion Nonito Donaire.

“It’s difficult because it’s hard for that weight division to get the credibility,” Hearn continued about unified bantamweight champion Inoue destroying the 39-year-old past his best Donaire in Saitama, Japan.

Sean Jones’ pound-for-pound list:

1. Oleksandr Usyk
2. Errol Spence Jr
3. Terence Crawford
4. Vasyl Lomachenko
5. Dmitry Bivol
6. Jermell Charlo
7. Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez
8. Juan Estrada
9. Devin Haney
10. Canelo Alvarez

“When we talk about Canelo being dropped to #6 in the pound-for-pound ranks, I don’t understand that,” said Hearn. “I think Usyk, if you’re going to take Canelo off the pound-for-pound spot, I think you have to put Usyk pound-for-pound #1, like for his achievements at cruiserweight, then at heavyweight.

“Terence Crawford, great fighter, but hasn’t really beaten anyone of serious note. Errol Spence, a great fighter, and obviously Canelo Alvarez, Inoue, and Chocolatito. I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I would put Inoue.

Naoya Inoue’s best wins:

  • Nonito Donaire – *in late 30s
  • Jamie McDonnell
  • Emmanuel Rodriguez
  • Jason Moloney
  • Omar Narvaez
  • Juan Carlos Payano
  • Antonio Nieves

Sean Jones hates to say it, but Inoue’s is terribly poor, making it impossible for me to rate him at all in the top 10 pound-for-pound.

“It’s difficult without necessarily facing the prime opposition, but he’s beaten a lot of the quality operators at bantamweight,” said Hearn about Inoue.

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