Home Boxing News Naoya Inoue is better than Manny Pacquiao and could box as high...

Naoya Inoue is better than Manny Pacquiao and could box as high as lightweight, says leading promoter

Naoya Inoue

The weight of expectation must be pressing heavily on the shoulders of four-weight world champion Naoya Inoue 25-0 (22).

But the man they call ‘The Monster’ is wearing it well.

Ever since the 30-year-old Japanese superstar thoroughly dismantled skilled American Stephen Fulton 21-1 (8) to claim the WBC and WBO titles in his first bout at super bantamweight late last month, the boxing world has opening speculated just how far Inoue can go.

His American co-promoter Bob Arum has not held back in his praise for Inoue, hailing him not as the second coming Manny Pacquiao but as an even better version of the Filipino legend.

“Inoue is a tremendous, tremendous fighter, like we’ve never seen before, maybe since Manny Pacquiao – probably better than Pacquiao was,” the Top Rank boss told Little Giant Boxing.

Inoue claimed his first world title at junior flyweight nine years ago before going on to win a super flyweight championship and defending it seven times. His run at bantamweight began in 2018 and concluded in December last year when he unified all four major world titles in the 118-pound weight class.

The question boxing fans and pundits are asking now is what is his weight ceiling.

“I think he has a chance to go all the way up, maybe even to junior lightweight or lightweight,” Arum said.

Arum added that junior welterweight would be a bit out of range for Inoue.

“Well, not 140 – he’s not a big guy,” he said. “Look how Fulton – I was there, he’s so much bigger than he was at 122. Inoue is something special.”

The question of who Inoue faces next has had boxing brains working overtime in recent weeks.

Pacquiao’s old rival Floyd Mayweather Jr wants to see Inoue return to the United States for a bout closer to the lightweight division.

“The kid from Japan, Inoue – even though he got the victory over Stephen Fulton, Stephen Fulton is not a heavy puncher, he’s a good boxer,” Mayweather said to FightHype.

“He went out there and he did what he’s supposed to do.

“I want Stephen Fulton to hold his head high, I’m proud of him. Any true champion can take a loss and bounce back.

“But as far as Inoue – Nonito Donaire was giving him fits in the first fight.

“If I’m not mistaken, Donaire was somewhere close to 40 when he fought him the first time, and he was in his 20s, so he should’ve knocked him out in the first fight, fighting a guy at that age…

“What I need Inoue to do is to come fight in the USA, random blood and urine testing.

“I think he’s a helluva fighter, I won’t take nothing away from him.

“I like him because he takes a lot of stuff from my playbook. But it’s okay, you’re supposed to take from the greats.

“I would like to see him fight Gervonta Davis at a catchweight.”

Arum slammed the idea.

“Inoue started at 108 pounds. Now he’s worked his way up to 122. He is a tremendous star in Japan,” Arum told FightHubTV. “Virtually nobody in Japan knows who Tank Davis is.

“Why would Inoue, who is undersized at 122, talk about fighting a guy [Gervonta] who’s essentially a junior welterweight at 140 pounds? It makes absolutely no sense.”

The realistic option for Inoue next is a four belt unification bout with WBA and IBF champion Marlon ‘Nightmare’ Tapales 37-3 (19) of the Philippines.

Pacquiao recently offered to assist in training Inoue, providing guidance on how best to move up through the weight classes.

“I like Naoya,” Pacquiao told Little Giant Boxing. “Before he became [multi-weight champion] I teach him in Japan. Naoya, he’s thinking of moving up in weight divisions. I hope I can teach him and supervise his workout and training.

“I want to train him and supervise his training if he wants to move up to higher weight divisions.”

Arum doesn’t see the value in the idea.

“I love Manny, Manny knows boxing, but what’s he gonna add to Inoue?” he said. “Where is Inoue falling short where Pacquiao could help him?”