Naoya Inoue has paved the way in which to usher in a brand new period of prime bantamweights as he units his sights on changing into a four-division champion.
The unbeaten pound-for-pound entrant confirmed that he’s ready to relinquish his undisputed bantamweight championship. Information of the event got here throughout a press convention held Friday in his hometown of Yokohama, Japan, the place he formally revealed his intentions of subsequent conquering the 122-pound division.
“I wish to inform you that I’ll return the belts of the 4 [sanctioning bodies],” Inoue revealed to the assembled media at a Yokohama lodge convention room. “Every belt is a memorable one for me.
“In 2023, I wish to transfer up one weight class and problem the tremendous bantamweight division. It is the right match, however there’s nothing left to do on this bantamweight division, and there is no opponent I wish to battle.”
The information comes precisely one month after Inoue made historical past as the primary Japanese—and Asian—boxer to turn out to be undisputed champion within the multi-belt period. The feat was completed together with his eleventh-round knockout of England’s Paul Butler, including the WBO belt to his assortment of lineal, WBC, WBA and IBF titles on December 13 in Tokyo.
Inoue revealed even after his repeat win over Nonito Donaire final June 9 to unify three titles that he would solely keep at bantamweight lengthy sufficient to gather the final belt. Making historical past for Japan was his solely motivation in remaining at 118 kilos, with the plan all the time to maneuver up in weight—a transfer he was ready to make had the Butler battle did not materialize.
Friday’s announcement formally ends a title reign extending again to his Could 2019 two-round annihilation of then-unbeaten IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez.
From there, Inoue upgraded his WBA ‘Common’ title with a twelve-round determination win over WBA ‘Tremendous’ champion Nonito Donaire of their November 2019 unification bout and World Boxing Tremendous Sequence bantamweight match remaining in Saitama, Japan. Inoue was way more emphatic in his rematch with Donaire, who introduced the WBC title to their June 9 conflict in Saitama solely to undergo a second-round knockout to the Japanese famous person.
Following the win over Butler, it was a matter of time earlier than Inoue would finally relinquish all the titles and set his sights on changing into a four-division champion.
“I’ve determined to compete within the tremendous bantamweight division and problem fighters who’re larger than me,” famous Inoue. “From right here on out, it’s an actual factor. I’m actually enthusiastic about it—I believe it might be the ultimate chapter.”
Such a transfer might result in an eventual showdown with Stephen Fulton (21-0, 8KOs), the reigning WBC/WBO 122-pound king and fellow pound-for-pound who doesn’t have a battle scheduled and is free from necessary obligation. The 28-year-old Philadelphia native soundly outclassed Daniel Roman, a former IBF/WBA champ who entered their June 4 conflict as a double necessary. Fulton gained a landslide determination to defend his titles, his first battle after edging Brandon Figueroa to unify their belts of their terrific November 2021 conflict in Las Vegas.
In the meantime, it’s the dawning of a brand new day for a bantamweight division with a number of fights beforehand left in limbo.
The WBC beforehand ordered a battle between Donaire (42-7, 18KOs) and its number-one ranked contender, two-time title challenger Jason Moloney (25-2, 19KOs). The bout was permitted for no less than an interim title to be at stake, with the chance of it coming with a vacant title by the point it might make its solution to the schedule. Talks have remained at a standstill, with the 2 promoters—Bob Arum (High Rank) for Moloney and Richard Schaefer (Probellum) for Donaire—lengthy at odds with each other and with High Rank not prepared to do enterprise with Probellum. Arum’s long-running feud with Schaefer dates again greater than a decade through the coronary heart of Schaefer’s stint as head of Golden Boy Promotions.
Arum upped the ante final spring, alleging that Probellum is affiliated with Daniel Kinahan, co-founder of the now-defunct MTK World and accused Irish crimelord who was sanctioned by the U.S. Division of Treasury final April. Schaefer and different Probellum workers have vehemently denied any ties to Kinahan.
However, it’s clearly an issue for the WBC to resolve. With its bantamweight title now up for grabs, the best decision can be to ship the bout to a handbag bid listening to.
The best benefactor of Inoue’s announcement might come inside his family. Youthful brother Takuma Inoue (17-1, 4KOs) is the very best ranked contender within the WBA bantamweight rankings, with Melvin Lopez (29-1, 19KOs)—a Nicaraguan knockout artist based mostly out of Miami—ranked number-three.
Presently on maintain within the IBF is the ultimate leg of a four-man match, because the Philippines’ Vincent Astrolabio (18-3, 13KOs) and former champ Rodriguez (21-2, 13KOs) now hope to vie for the vacant title. Each gained separate semi-final eliminators and have been ready to battle for the interim title however will now probably meet for the true factor.
Who will get to compete for the WBO title might rely upon how issues shake out with the WBC. 4 of the highest 5 contenders—Moloney, Rodriguez, Astrolabio and Lopez—might be faraway from the combo ought to the pursue their aforementioned choices. That would depart Butler to problem for his outdated title versus number-four-ranked Reymart Gaballo, barring a large rankings shakeup previous to the following ordered title battle.
In the meantime, Inoue is now targeted on larger opposition—actually.
“The problem of combating at tremendous bantamweight is not only an issue for me—everybody’s assist actually helps me,” acknowledged Inoue. “Please proceed to assist us in 2023.”
Jake Donovan is a senior author for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox