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Naoya ”The Monster” Inoue – a nickname well deserved

Image: Naoya ”The Monster” Inoue - a nickname well deserved

By Stefan Radosavlević: Calmly and respectfully, Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue celebrated his 23rd victory and a third belt in his weight class last June with a win over Nonito Donaire. He raised his right hand, hugged his opponent like it was on sparring session, and that was it.

No trash-talking, no over-the-top celebrations, just pure class. Naoya Inoue´s victory over Nonito Donaire on June 7. this year brought him the WBC strap that puts him one step away from unifying the bantamweight division. That was his fifth belt in a third weight class. The Japanese knockout artist previously held the WBO junior-bantamweight title from 2014 to 2018 and the WBC flyweight title in 2014.

His record and resume are incredible, but it’s not just how many fights and titles he won; it’s the way he did it. The nickname ”Monster” is well deserved!

Inoue finished his amateur career with a 75-6 record and turned professional in 2012. In his debut fight, the Japanese fighter defeated Crison Omayao, the national champion of the Philippines. In 2014, just six fights into his professional career, Naoya became the WBC flyweight champion, defeating Adrian Hernandez via TKO in round number six. By the end of 2014. he won the WBO junior bantamweight belt.

Monster´s victim this time was the longest raining flyweight champion, Argentinian boxing legend Omar Narvaez, who was knocked out in two rounds. After seven title defenses, Inoue moved to bantamweight and, as we saw, became the unified champion, one fight away from being undisputed.

The bantamweight campaign is, in my opinion, his best work, at least for now. Whoever watched Jamie Mcddonell and Juan Carlos Payano fights knows what I am talking about. The way Inoue dominated these two world class fighters is just incredible. Of course, the Nonito Donaire fight is something special. This was the first time that the Japanese boxing master was really hurt.

Although in his late thirties, Donaire was still a formidable opponent. But even he couldn’t withstand Inoue’s attacks and lost on points. The rematch was much shorter, and the Philippine warrior was out in two rounds.

Yes, power is there; you don´t earn the nickname ‘Monster’ by being a dancer; you need to knock people out. But power is just one part of Naoya´s game. He is a well-rounded fighter with excellent timing and counter-punching skills. One thing that boxing fans usually forget is his balance; he is always in a good position to defend and attack.

The best part is that he is still improving. Compare his last five or six fights, and you will see that Inoue is becoming more and more defensively responsible with every fight. Now, add a power (in both hands) to this skill set, and you got yourself a monster.

Like many great champions before him, he made boxing look easy. Also, Inoue has a very specific set of skills that are being largely missed in today’s boxing: he’s humble, respectful, and quiet. Somehow, he reminds me of legends such as Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano.

Naoya Inoue is one of my favorite boxers, so maybe I am not really objective about him, but right now, I can’t see any major flaw in his game, both in and out of the ring. He is a favorite to win against tough British fighter Paul Butler and is only 29, so I hope we are in for many more good boxing matches.

In the end, of course, I have to ask a logical question; what if he moves up in weight again? Monster´s 5´5 could be a problem, but if he manages to keep his power at higher weight classes, who knows what could happen?

What do you think about Inoue at junior featherweight and featherweight? Write in the comments.




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