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What Awaits Naoya Inoue at Featherweight?


PhilBoxing.com




Former Manny Pacquiao rival and two division world champion Tim Bradley, now a prominent boxing commentator, has recently urged Naoya Inoue to move up to the featherweights as "there is nothing left for him "at the super bantamweights or junior featherweights.

Bradley also said that the move, especially if it will win Inoue a world title or two at featherweight, will not just enhance his reputation as arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the world but would be an all time great accomplishment stuff.

But will Inoue's move up from 122 lbs to 126 lbs be as seamless and seemingly effortless as his moves from light flyweight to super flyweight to bantamweight and to his current division, the super bantamweight?

Inoue himself seems to have doubts as he has time and again said that he will only be going up if he feels his body is already ready for the move.

No one can fault him as in the recent times, only the exceptionally talented and built had successfully made the transition. They included the likes of Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and our own Manny Pacquiao and more recently Rey Vargas and Emanuel Navarrete.

As I see it, the featherweight is one division Inoue cannot just barge into without the benefit of exploratory or testing the water fight or fights. For what awaits him there is a far difficult and complex challenge.

The current world champions are a pair of tall, elongated Mexicans, the aforementioned Rey Vargas who stands at 5-10 and Rafael Espinosa who is even taller at six feet flat and a pair of smaller buzzsaw knockout artists in 5-2 Nick Ball and 5-3 Luis Alberto Mercado.

Just lurking below are Cuban former bemedaled Olympian and ex-world titlist Robeisy Ramirez, former champions Josh Warrington and Angelo Leo, the tough Ruben Villa and Arnold Khegai and the very promising Bruce Carrington.

Therefore, it would serve Inoue to test the waters first before plunging into the featherweights.

By the way he still has some unfinished business at 122 lbs.

Australian star Sam Goodman and Uzbek former unified champion Morudjon Akhmadaliev are the remaining most viable challenger for Inoue's undisputed hold of the world junior featherweight championship. Monster intends to finish them off one after the other before the year is over.

That is the plan until Goodman, the next mandatory (for IBF) after Luis Nery (WBC) had a second thought about fighting Inoue this September. The Aussie requested for his challenge to be held later in the year, most likely December.

Goodman pulling out has prompted the WBA, which is next in the order of mandatory defense, to order Naoya to defend against its former champion Akhmadaliev and promptly start the negotiations for the fight.

This has send the original plan in jumble.

Moreover, Naoya seems affronted by WBA order though not as much as the Uzbek as his next mandatory. Confounding the situation, his co promoter Bob Arum has even spoken, derisively dismissing the WBA order.

There have been rumors that Naoya is considering another Aussie ex titlist TJ Doheny as his opponent this September either in Japan or the UK as main support of an Anthony Joshua main eventer. The problem is that Doheny, though known in both Japan and the UK is not in the order of his mandatory challengers.

Naoya is therefore running the risk of the WBA stripping him of its recognition if he ignore or defy its order.

This could be an opportunity for Naoya to ask for temporary break from defending his 122lbs championship and engage in a non title bout to test the waters at the featherweights.

Against whom would be very interesting to know.

If he is leery about taking on the big guns top contenders, there's still the likes of Isaac Dogboe, Carlos Castro and Joet Gonzalez he may consider to give him a good gauge.

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


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


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