Naoya Inoue’s case to claim the 2023 Fighter of the Year award grew ever-stronger on Boxing Day as he knocked out Marlon Tapales to become the undisputed super-bantamweight champion. Now, it seems his next opponent is set.
The Monster seeks to further dominate the 122lb division, after claiming all four belts at the weight in just two fights. He shone under the bright lights and heavy expectations once again as he stopped the tough Filipino Tapales in Tokyo.
It was Inoue’s 21st consecutive title bout, a run which dates back to his WBC light-flyweight title win against Adrian Hernandez over seven years ago.
Despite fans wanting to see if Inoue can match the achievements of Manny Pacquiao and conquer as many as eight-divisions, the four-weight champion has confirmed that he is planning three more fights at super-bantamweight before he makes the jump to featherweight.
Boxing Scene reports that Inoue’s next opponent will be a controversial one, in the form of WBC Mandatory Challenger, Luis Nery, who is currently banned from fighting in Japan, suggestions which Inoue responded to in his post-fight interview.
“We plan to return to the ring in May,”
“We can’t really discuss who that might be since we are in negotiations.”
Nery knocked out the previously undefeated WBC Bantamweight Champion Shinsuke Yamanaka back in 2017, but tested positive for banned substance Zilpaterol in the aftermath.
Nevertheless, Nery kept a hold of the belt, arguing that the results came as a result of food contamination, rather than intentional malice.
Yamanaka had the chance to regain his former title in the rematch, where Nery came in overweight and was stripped of the belt, but knocked out Yamanaka in just two rounds, resulting in a lifetime ban from the Japanese Boxing Commission.
As a result, Inoue could be set to end his stretch of five consecutive fights in Japan and fight elsewhere, assuming Nery’s ban is upheld.