Not many world champions manage to retire with a spotless, unbeaten record. The greats that did it are few and far between, with names like Ricardo Lopez, Joe Calzaghe, Floyd Mayweather and of course, Rocky Marciano, springing to mind (have I left out any obvious shouts?) It’s tough not to run into – or be ran over by – an opponent who simply has your number, and legends like Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, and Joe Louis tasted defeat as a result.
One man who, along with his other goals, plans to retire with an unbeaten record, is Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue; for many people the current pound-for-pound king. We currently await “The Monster’s” next fight, but it seems Paul Butler, who owns the sole strap not yet in Inoue’s possession, could be the next fight for the lethally powerful 29 year old from Kanagawa.
No disrespect to Butler, the current WBO bantamweight champ, but nobody outside of Butler’s camp feels he can upset Inoue. Assuming he does get the win over the brave Brit, Inoue will be 24-0, and ready to move up in search of stellar competition at 122 pounds. Inoue, is 5’5” tall and he began his pro career as a 108 pounder, and it’s entirely possible he will be tested harder than ever before in the 122 pound division.
Can Inoue carry his formidable punching power up with him to yet another weight division (Inoue has won world titles at light-fly, junior-bantam, and bantamweight)? There are some good fighters operating at 122, such as Stephen Fulton (the WBC/WBO champ) and Murodjon Akhmadaliev (IBF/WBA) and both men would no doubt like a piece of Inoue. If Inoue can unify the bantamweight division and then win a belt or belts at 122, scoring some impressive KO’s along the way, we will be looking at a very special fighter. We are looking at a special fighter already with Inoue, but, like so many before him, Inoue wants to dare to be great.
Imagine if you will, an Inoue who has a career that boasts world titles at four weights, with numerous highlight reel KO’s, with wins over a couple of future Hall of Famers, and with an unbeaten record upon retiring. This is what Inoue is shooting for. Who is to say he cannot do it?
It’s a whole lot of fun watching Inoue fight, and it will be even more fun seeing him test his greatness up a weight. Will Inoue go down as an all-time great? And an unbeaten one, at that?