Naoya Inoue: Pound-for-Pound King With Ring Magazine, But Does His Record Hold Up?

By Chris Williams - 05/09/2024 - Comments

Naoya Inoue has become Ring Magazine’s new pound-for-pound king, beating out Terence Crawford for the top spot.

Ring Magazine’s decision to choose undisputed super bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (27-0, 24 KOs) over Crawford, Oleksandr Usyk, and Canelo Alvarez is questionable because Inoue’s wins haven’t been against high-quality opposition during the last five years.

Moreover, Inoue has conveniently stayed at Super Bantamweight, where it’s safe, avoiding a move up to 126, which is teaming with sharks that could feast on Naoya. Does Inoue fear real challenges?

Who Has Naoya Inoue Actually Been Beating?

For example, Inoue’s victory last Money came against Luis Nery, a fighter who had recently been knocked out by Brandon Figueroa. Inoue hasn’t exactly been beating the cream of the crop.

Many of the 31-year-old Inoue’s victories have come against similar flawed opposition, and he’s chosen not to move up to featherweight, where he would be fighting many talented fighters who could beat him.

Inoue’s Opposition since 2019

– Luis Nery
– Marlon Tapales
– Stephen Fulton
– Paul Butler
– Nonito Donaire: *Respect your elders but this man was 40
– Aran Dipaen
– Michael Dasmariñas
– Jason Moloney
– Emmanuel Rodríguez
– Nonito Donaire

These lists are subjective obviously, but it almost appears the people that make them up don’t factor in the level of opposition. They’re like, ‘Oh, Inoue looked great. Let’s put him at #1,’ but using critical thinking by taking a close look at who Inoue has actually been beating.

Inoue is a good fighter, but he’s not been fighting the same caliber of opposition as Crawford, Canelo, Usyk, and Dmitry Bivol.

Ring Magazine’s Updated List – A Joke, Right?

1. Naoya Inoue
2. Terence Crawford
3. Oleksandr Usyk
4. Canelo Alvarez
5. Artur Beterbiev
6. Dmitry Bivol
7. Errol Spence
8. Gervonta Davis
9. Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez
10. Junto Nakatani

“The fact that he was knocked down and the way he came back. He was reckless in the first round, looking for big shots, throwing himself across the ring to try and get an easy finish,” said Gareth A. Davies to talkSport Boxing, talking about Naoya Inoue in his fight against Luis Nery.

“The way he’s been able to carry his power up those divisions and been able to knock opponents out is extraordinary. Luis Nery, getting him down in the first round, you thought, ‘Wow, that’s incredible.’ Slowly and surely, he demolished and chopped down the tree in front of him.

“Him and Terence Crawford are the only two males to win undisputed titles in two weight divisions, and Usyk may join them if he beats Fury. For me, he’s done to #1. He’s a secret to the sports world, but not a secret in the boxing world. Everyone knows how Tiger Woods is and this guy is almost on that level,” said Gareth about Inoue not being well known by non-boxing fans in the U.S.