WBA and IBF bantamweight champion Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue 19-0 (16) is considering a move up in weight rather than a unification bout with WBO titleholder John Riel Casimero 29-4 (20).
The 27-year-old Japanese superstar was expected to take on three-weight world champion Casimero early this year before the global coronavirus pandemic hit and shutdown boxing worldwide.
Negotiations are ongoing to reschedule the fight.
Inoue was the breakout star of the World Boxing Super Series last year, defeating then-WBA champion Jamie McDonnell in a single round to win entry into the tournament before knocking out Juan Carlos Payano and Emmanuel Rodriguez in one and two rounds respectively.
“I was struggling to find opponents when I was at super flyweight, so it was such a delight for me to be a part of the WBSS,” said Inoue, who has now won world titles at 108, 115 and 118 pounds.
“I never imagined myself beating Payano in 70 seconds before the fight. I felt our moves like slow motion around the end of the fight, so I can say that I was in the zone.
The fight against undefeated IBF champion Rodriguez took place in Glasgow, Scotland on the undercard of Josh Taylor versus Ivan Baranchyk and was just the second time Inoue had competed abroad.
“I was so excited because it was my first fight in Glasgow as well as my first title unification bout. I won in the best possible way. It became such a great memory for me,” he said.
In the final of the WBSS last November, Inoue turned by the tough challenge of veteran campaigner Nonito Donaire to claim victory in the tournament and win the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
“Donaire is one of the boxing legends to me,” he said. “This thought made it impossible to make a prediction of how our fight would go. Even though I suffered an orbital fracture in the second round, I tried to stay smart. I won via decision. It was such a big test for me.
“The most impressive experience at the WBSS is all the stage production such as lighting and so on. And I still remember the weight of the trophy I was given after the final.”
Inoue is still uncertain if he will remain at 118-pounds for the Casimero fight or look for new challenges at super bantamweight or above.
“I guess I got a number of choices right now…” he said. “The unification bout with WBO and going up a weight division, etc. I will discuss it with my team and make my decision.”