Japanese star Inoue targeting boxing’s big time

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — They don’t name Japanese boxer Naoya Inoue “The Monster” for nothing.

The WBA and IBF bantamweight world champion is undefeated, with all however three of his wins by knockout — principally within the early rounds.

Drawing reward as the most effective “pound for pound” energetic boxers round, and one of the best out of Asia for the reason that legendary Manny Pacquiao, Inoue has his eyes on the large time.

Inoue (21-0, 18 KOs) made his Las Vegas debut final 12 months with a knockout victory over Jason Moloney, which adopted a struggle in California in 2019. Signed with Bob Arum’s boxing promotion firm Prime Rank, Inoue fought once more in Las Vegas this 12 months, knocking out Michael Dasmarinas.

His subsequent struggle is in Japan on Dec. 14, broadly seen as a tuneup for a title unification bout in America subsequent 12 months.

And so Inoue is getting down to please his Japanese followers, who haven’t seen him in motion regionally for 2 years.

When he enters Ryogoku Kokugikan, the Tokyo venue for the standard sport of sumo wrestling, to tackle Thailand’s Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11 KOs), Inoue will probably be decked out in pink.

The gang will probably be a sea of white, the gown code for the night, symbolizing the Japanese flag — and symbolizing the large hope this nation has using on Inoue.

“Each fan goes to have expectations. And I need to defy and transcend each certainly one of their expectations,” Inoue, 28, instructed The Related Press after sparring lately on the Ohashi Boxing Fitness center in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo.

Inoue mentioned he’s wanting ahead to combating John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21 KOs), the WBO bantamweight champion. The bout, scheduled for final 12 months, was placed on maintain due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Casimero is combating Paul Butler of Britain on Dec. 11.

Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27 KOs), the WBC bantamweight champion, has a struggle the identical day towards Reymart Gaballo.

Inoue beat Donaire by unanimous choice in 2019, a grueling bout that was voted one of the best struggle of the 12 months by the Boxing Writers Affiliation of America.

As soon as his unification mission for the bantamweight belts is full, the already three-division world champion Inoue plans to maneuver up a weight in 2023.

However the former WBC gentle flyweight champion and former WBO tremendous flyweight champion shrugged his monster popularity off.

“I’m not known as a Monster at residence,” he mentioned, smiling. “They name me Naoya or Nao.”

Inoue loves consuming “yakiniku,” or Japanese-style barbecue, particularly beef tongue, and he loves watching horror films. He enjoys karaoke.

For Inoue, who began boxing at 6, it’s at all times been about household. His youthful brother, Takuma, can be an expert boxer

Their father, a former novice boxer, devised coaching strategies for his sons like having to push a automobile with the engine off, or climb a rope dangling from the second-floor veranda of their home.

Naoya Inoue recalled he by no means questioned the methods.

“You solely insurgent in all probability once you don’t agree with what’s being executed,” he mentioned.

Having married his highschool sweetheart, Inoue is already a father himself. He has a son, 4, and two daughters, 2 and a new child.

His son Akiha, whom he has held within the boxing ring as a child, is displaying intense curiosity in daddy’s bouts, however Inoue isn’t positive he needs him to be a boxer.

“I simply hope he can discover one thing he really loves doing,” he mentioned.

One of the best ways to succeed, he added, just isn’t stressing out.

“You may’t hold at this until you actually prefer it. There could also be accidents and a threat to your life. It’s a harmful sport,” Inoue mentioned. “It’s not one thing you are able to do with out liking it.”

Inoue is a part of a legacy in Japan, which has produced some Corridor of Famers, together with Yoko Gushiken and Masahiko “Preventing” Harada. Extra lately, the recognition of boxing was obvious within the Japanese ladies medalists on the Tokyo Olympics.

Boxing health club chairman and former world champion Hideyuki Ohashi got here up with the “kaibutsu” or “monster” moniker when Inoue turned professional. He mentioned Inoue is a lower above any of the boxers he has seen — and he is seen fairly a couple of.

“It’s not one factor or the opposite, however he excels in each facet. In boxing expertise, his velocity, the facility of his punches, his timing. And most significantly he has psychological power,” Ohashi mentioned. “He’s having enjoyable.”

Ohashi mentioned Inoue is the one boxer he is aware of who has already determined he’ll retire at 35. After a relaxation, he’ll go on to one thing else. He declined to say what that is likely to be.

However for now, Inoue is this profession path.

“I’m nonetheless removed from the perfect fashion of boxing I’m pursuing. If I get contented now, then I’ll simply hit a wall after I go to tremendous bantamweight,” he mentioned. “There’s a lot farther to go earlier than I attain my peak, and I nonetheless don’t know my true potential.

“I nonetheless have seven or eight years as a professional, and so I’m going to maintain heading increased.”

Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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