Inoue Steers Off Casimero --- For Now, Negotiating a Fight Vs Jason Moloney
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Thu, 13 Aug 2020
Seven months may have been long enough for Naoya Inoue - and Bob Arum - to sober up from the euphoria and bravado of the Japanese hard fought, best yet career victory over Filipino legend Nonito Donaire in their World Boxing Super Series bantamweight finals in Saitama.
They are now steering clear from another potential bruising and dangerous bout against yet another Filipino power puncher Johnriel Casimero as Top Rank is reportedly finalizing talks for a fight between Inoue and Australian Jason Moloney in the US this September or October.
It could be recalled that following Inoue's victory over Donaire, Arum signed up the Japanese ace to a contract promising to build him up into a new Asian boxing superstar in the mold of Manny Pacquiao.
As an initial move, Arum planned to reintroduce Inoue to the US fans in a grand championship debut against then newly crowned WBO bantamweight titlist Casimero in a triple world title unification set April 25, 2020 in Las Vegas.
Arum could have regarded Casimero then as a mere steppingstone for Inoue despite the Filipino has also become a three division world champion like his new prized ward.
Casimero, fresh from a shock 2nd round demolition of the erstwhile highly regarded South African Zolani Tete, readily agreed to the match and as early as February went to the US to prepare for the fight.
Inoue took his time to savor his latest major victory and to rest and recuperate from the battering and injuries he suffered from Donaire, most serious was the broken orbital bone in his right eye. He was reportedly set to start sparring by early March.
Then the Covid-19 Pandemic happened forcing a global lockdown that resulted in the cancellation of the April 25 fight.
Casimero was forced to stay in the US and later prevailed upon to forgo his plan to return to the Philippines to await the arrival of Inoue to firm up with Arum the new date for their cancelled April unification.
Quizzically, all these times nothing much has been heard about Inoue except that he was having difficulties securing a US visa even if it was harder for an American to enter Japan than a Japanese to enter the US due to their travel restriction policies.
Then suddenly came Arum announcing that it was difficult for him to stage the fight if Casimero would not agree to a pay cut which he said Inoue was amenable to.
Casimero sought the advise of Sean Gibbons of the Manny Pacquiao Promotion which is co-handling him and it was decided that they would await the actual arrival of Inoue before a final decision would be made on the matter in a meeting with him and Arum.
It will now appear that Arum has made his final decision obviously with the acquiescence of Inoue that the Casimero fight is already off the table.
The other day, boxing website World Boxing News carried the story that Top Rank is finalizing the deal for an Inoue-Moloney fight in lieu of the Inoue-Casimero triple title unification.
Some fans expressed disappointment over the development saying that the fight between Inoue and Casimero is what they wanted and have waited to see. A few even scoffed at the credentials of Moloney who lost on points in 2008 to Emmanuel Rodriguez, the Puerto Rican former IBF champion who lasted just two rounds against Naoya in the WBSS bantam semis last year.
Some fans though were fine with the matchup noting that Moloney has bounced back from that lost with four straight wins, albeit against an assortment of journeymen.
But some sees Arum as protecting Inoue to preserve him for a pay per view main eventer against Casimero or the winner of the Donaire-Nordine Oubaali WBC title fight with live audience in attendance in the US sometime next year, if that is already possible.
Arum could have realized the danger Casimero poses to Inoue at this point in time.
That is highly possible.
As for Inoue, he could just be playing along with Arum in the hope of eventually having the Casimero fight held in Japan as his handlers in Teikken Promotion has a plan as a fallback if his US championship debut bombs out.
Inoue has fought in the US in September 2017 but in the undercard of the Srisaket Sor Rungvusai-Roman Gonzalez main event in which he won by not too impressive 7th round retirement over a certain Antonio Nieves in defense of his then WBO super flyweight title. At that time he was playing second fiddle to the two and even to Juan Francisco Estrada.
Inoue believes it his now his time to shine as a boxing superstar.
We will see.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone 09215309477.
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