Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue, for many fans the most exciting lower weight fighter in boxing today, returns to action on Saturday night in Las Vegas. “The Monster,” who currently holds the WBA and IBF bantamweight titles, will face his IBF mandatory challenger, Michael Dasmarinas of the Philippines. It’s an interesting fight, a good fight, with Dasmarinas, 30-2-1(20) not having lost a fight since way back in 2014.
Dasmarinas, a southpaw, has been stopped just once, this back in 2012 in what was just his fourth pro fight. “Hot and Spicy,” as Dasmarinas is known, is hungry and determined going into this, easily the biggest fight of his career. But Inoue, 20-0(17) is a little bit special. Not only can the Japanese star bang with brutal efficiency, with either hand, he has also got a good chin – as he showed in his epic decision win over the recently rejuvenated, back-on-top Nonito Donaire. Inoue, suffering a cracked orbital bone in the November 2019 modern-day classic, showed heart and guts in getting the win.
And Inoue could fight Donaire again. Speaking with ESPN ahead of Saturday night’s fight, Inoue said his goal is to win all four major belts at bantamweight, so that means a return with newly crowned WBC champ Donaire, and a fight with reigning WBO champ John Riel Casimero. Casimero was to have got a shot at Inoue some months back before the pandemic came along and ruined things. But that fight is still there, and along with Inoue-Donaire II, we want to see it.
“For right now, my motivation is to unify all four titles, so you have Casimero and Donaire,” Inoue said. “That is who I want to fight. That is my motivation for now.”
Two potentially great fights to look forward to, no doubt about it. But first comes Dasmarinas. Inoue is coming off a chilling KO of Jason Moloney, who he iced in highlight-reel fashion in October, while Dasmarinas is coming off a stoppage win over a 25-28 Artid Bamrungauea, this also in October.
Inoue is of course a big favorite to win on Saturday and Dasmarinas has it all to fight for. Will we see yet another “Monster” KO?