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Naoya Inoue Intends to Join List of Japanese "Resident" World Champions?

Undisputed world super bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue recently obliged himself to an interview with veteran writer Daisuke Sugiyama for publication in the venerable Ring Magazine.

This is following his being selected as the Ring's Fighter of the Year, and likewise by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) for 2023.

In a two part interview series, Naoya revealed his impression about American boxers and boxing, his thoughts about fighting again in the US, his impressions about his last opponent, Marlon Tapales, his intention to stay at 122 lbs at least until this year and possible move up to the featherweights, which he said could be his ceiling.

He likewise hinted at fighting exclusively in Japan, hence potentially joining the long list of Japanese successful resident world champions.

Since the interview was conducted in Japanese in simple Q and A format, there was little possibility of him getting misquoted or his meaning getting lost in translation to English which was done by Sugiayama.

But reading through the interview, I find it heavy in usual Japanese humility and modesty but also with some drips of naivety and contradictory statements which to my mind bordered on hypocrisy.

One instance of naivety, Naoya said that he does not watch American boxing particularly in the heavyweights which he said seemed a different sport. He also said American boxers do not fight like Japanese which is motivated by some ancient martial code. Based on his solitary fight versus Stephen Fulton, he said he had the impression that American fighters "don't like getting hit in the face".

But when asked if he would like to fight in the US again, Naoya replied that "I would love to fight again in the US" in a bid to establish his crossover appeal but then in another display of naivety, he said he doesn't know if many people there know and would accept him. Hello, didn't just two US-based boxing organizations give him a much desired award as Fighter of the Year aside from the Ring having him on top two as best pound for pound fighters in the world for several years now?

Here is where humility, modesty and naivety turned to becoming self-contraction bordering in my mind to hypocrisy for self preservation. Naoya in the same breath, said he sees no need for him to fight in the US. In veiled indictment of boxers particularly coming from fhe Third World so to speak, Naoya said they come to the US and fight for money and fame. But he failed to acknowledge the fact that some after achieving wealth and fame, continued fighting in the US for boxing immortality as Duran, Arguello, Pacquiao.

He said there is no need for him to fight in the US because he earns as much or more fighting in Japan and he is well known and very popular with the fans. He said Japan has become a boxing hub in Asia as the US is to the West. He said many boxers want to go and fight in Japan particularly in the lower weight classes. That is true but apart from the good pay, another major reason is that Japan has many "resident" world champions who would be hard to convince to fight abroad, the type Naoya hinted he is ready to join.

Naoya bared that he would fight three times this year, all in Japan of course.

The first would be against Mexican Luis Nery who not long ago was banned from Japan following his two controversial (read: insulting and shameful) knockout of erstwhile Japanese hero and long time bantamweight kingpin Shinsuke Yamanaka.

Really, looking at this case, if the Japanese Boxing Commission is true to its words, they could have told Naoya to fight Nery elsewhere, especially in the US where both are popular. But no, the JBC allowed Nery to fight again in Japan without any prior announcement that they are lifting the ban. I could be wrong but one could see through the interest of guaranteeing Naoya his homecourt advantage vis a vis this dangerous Mexican.

The next opponent is former WBA-IBF champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev from whom Tapales wrested the titles won by Naoya last December. Naoya said Tapales is a very good fighter and that he is not satisfied with his victory over the Filipino who fought defensively as his knockout win was not as crisp as his past knockout wins (including against Fulton).

The third opponent is yet to be determined. But Suigayama mentioned Sam Goodman and Johnriel Casimero. But Naoya only commented on Goodman and totally ignored commenting on Casimero.

It was Casimero who Naoya said he has an unfinished business in an interview after his win over Tapales not long ago.

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at and by phone 09215309477.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.

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