Three-division world champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue 18-0 (16) isn’t content to be known as the world’s great bantamweight – he wants to be known as the greatest of all time.
The 26-year-old revealed his lofty ambitions ahead of his clash with Nonito ‘The Filipino Flash’ Donaire 40-5 (26) in the final of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan on Thursday night.
“A year ago this tournament started, a year later I am in the final against Nonito Donaire, and I am very grateful for that,” said the 26-year-old Inoue at the final press conference in Tokyo.
“I’ve been watching Nonito’s fights even before I became professional, and he’s one of the fighters who I admire. I am truly proud of myself to be in the ring with him the day after tomorrow.”
The winner of the WBSS will be awarded the Muhammad Ali Trophy which was on display on a plinth during the press conference.
“It’s a beautiful trophy, I like the design,” Inoue said.
“The winner of this tournament will be crowned as the greatest of the division. I am representing Japan as a professional boxer and I will show the greatest performance of my career as an answer to all the exceptions here.
“The appeal of the WBSS is that we can decide who is the best in the division. I would like to be victorious, but I’m not stopping there. In the future, I want to be the greatest of all time!”
The 36-year-old Donaire, who has held world championships in four separate weight classes, praised his opponent but warned he should not be underestimated.
“Naoya is the top fighter in the world pound-for-pound which is very exciting for me. But I trust in my ability, and I will be able to adapt to the situation,” Donaire said.
“Fighting Naoya Inoue has given me motivation. I’ve accomplished so much, so I needed someone to motivate me. It’s brought back my youth again because I have to be at my best.
“Being in this tournament has been tremendous. All these young guys trying to prove themselves and weed out the old generation. But so far, I’ve proven I’m a wall that needs to be climbed, and it’s not an easy wall to climb.”
Promoter Kalle Sauerland added: “Two weeks ago we witnessed what was potentially the Fight of the Year (WBSS 140-pound final – Josh Taylor MD 12 Regis Prograis) at The O2 in London, and this Thursday we have another fascinating final. Donaire, the old lion protecting his lair vs Inoue, the pound-for-pound king at the moment.”
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