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Don’t Know Who Naoya Inoue Is? You Only Have Yourself to Blame

Naoya Inoue AKA “The Monster” had another riveting win on Sunday as he overcame an early knockdown (the first of his career) to starch Luis Nery and retain his undisputed title. With the win, Inoue extended his unbeaten record to 27-0, winning in half the time Saul “Canelo” Alvarez needed to beat Jaime Munguia. And while savvy boxing bettors keep cashing in on him, regular fans keep hatin’ on the man. 

There is no denying Inoue. His status in the sport is approached by only one man: Terence “Bud” Crawford, and he has already fought and defended his belts since Crawford last whooped Errol Spence Jr. But fans continue to hurl skepticism and ill words at the Japanese superstar. What could be the reason?  

Don’t Know Who Naoya Inoue Is? You Only Have Yourself to Blame
Japan’s Naoya Inoue/Philip FONG/AFP

Why Are People Dissing Inoue?

Social media has a way of magnifying xenophobia even in a multicultural sport like boxing. You have champions from nearly every continent and folks still find the time to hate on someone due to their national background. In Inoue’s case, his Japanese background makes plenty of folks raise eyebrows.

“The world knows a guy who fought at 7:30 on a Monday? Come to Vegas,” an X user said in reply to Top Rank Boxing’s tweet. 

“I don’t respect a fighter who does not fight outside of their home country,” another user said.

“Sooner or later he’s going to have to leave the safety of Japan and fight in Las Vegas more often,” another added.

This is hilarious since a big chunk of users appear to be Americans. But we bet they never say the same about American boxers. The great Floyd Mayweather boxed all 50 of his pro bouts in the United States. And Gervonta “Tank” Davis has not boxed professionally outside the U.S.. 

But when it’s a non-American like Inoue doing it, the Americans give him the finger. We get it. It’s got some sort of Patriotism to it. “U-S-A! U-S-A!” and all that. And maybe there is another element to it beyond this low-key racism.


Lack of U.S. Coverage, Lack of Fans?

It’s ignorant to knock Inoue’s quality of opponents as he’s defeated over a dozen champions including future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire. But fans may also be clamoring to see Inoue fight with American broadcasters. They may sing a different tune when Inoue wins in primetime or on a more accessible channel. 

He defeated Nery on ESPN+ but it was early on a Monday. Inoue’s also mainly fought on Tuesdays such as when he finished both Marlon Tapales and Stephen Fulton. Beating the latter even drew the ire of Stephen A. Smith as he went on about having Inoue fight on U.S. soil, thus echoing the sentiments of his fellow Americans. 

The last two times Inoue fought in a “normal” time slot was when he knocked out Michael Dasmarinas and Jason Moloney on ESPN in 2021 and 2020, respectively. This was also during the days of the pandemic and was set in small venues due to the current state of the world. So we won’t fault fans for “forgetting” that he has fought in America. 


Sorry, Americans: Inoue is Great Despite Your Petty Gripes

Accept him or not, Inoue is easily one of the greatest boxers of his era. He can retire now and still be considered a shoo-in Hall of Famer. And what’s crazy is that Inoue just turned 31. He’s got plenty of years left in him. We could be looking at the next six-division champion if he continues to move up in weight.

Up next for Inoue may be a fight against Sam Goodman, who he called out on the mic, in Australia. Beyond that, moving up to featherweight is not out of the picture. And someday, Inoue finally fights in Las Vegas as part of a major pay-per-view. By that time, all the ignorami will realize what most true fans have known for years: Inoue is the *bleep*.
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Questions Of The Day

Will Naoya Inoue fight Gervonta Davis?

Casual fans can pitch this all they want, but Inoue and Davis are four weight divisions apart. It may happen in the future but not any time soon.

What is Inoue’s pound-for-pound ranking today?

Inoue is listed either as the No. 1 or No. 2 pound-for-pound boxer based on the top boxing sites.


The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.

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