Naoya Inoue Chooses Legacy Over Paycheck, Rules Out Tank Davis Clash

By Robbie Bannatyne - 02/14/2024 - Comments

Japanese star Naoya Inoue has ruled out moving up 13 pounds to face Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis at 135, saying he doesn’t box for the sake of money. Tank Davis would be a formidable task for any fighter, especially one that had massive problems against a past his best, 37-year-old Nonito Donaire several years ago.

Size Matters: Assessing the Dangers

Moving up in weight would give the 30-year-old Inoue (26-0, 23 KOs) a massive payday fighting Tank Davis at lightweight, but it’s a dangerous fight for ‘Monster’ and it would likely end badly for him.

Inoue took a lot of punishment in his last fight against the heavy-handed IBF/WBA super bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales in the undisputed championship in Japan last December; some believe that’s why Naoya has decided to stay at 122. Tapales put hands on Inoue, landing hard, head-snapping blows until he was stopped in the tenth.

After Inoue’s trouble against Tapales, he would be on an unwinnable mission if he moved up three weight classes to challenge Gervonta for his WBA title at 135. Moving up to 130 at super featherweight to take on the hard-hitting champions Joe Cordina and Emanuel Navarrete would likely be a bridge too far for Inoue.

Staying in a Winning Lane

Naoya has a good thing going fighting at 122, making big money beating the opposition in that weight class, and it wouldn’t make sense for him to ruin it by shooting up to 135 and getting massacred by a killer like Gervonta Davis, who would be bad news for Inoue.

“I always want to show the best Naoya Inoue. I wouldn’t fight at super-featherweight just because the money is good. There are many fighters who have chased the money, but ended up not being able to perform well and quit. The reason I box is not for the money. There are weight divisions in boxing for a reason,” said Naoya Inoue to RingTV, rejecting the idea of moving up to 135 to face Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis for his WBA ‘regular’ lightweight title.

Inoue would be out of his league going up to 135 to take on a talent like Gervonta Davis or to tangle with fighters like Vasily Lomachenko, Abdullah Mason, Shakur Stevenson, or Raymond Muratalla. Those guys have a combination of skill, talent, and in some cases power that would likely be too much for Inoue to deal with.