Tonight, Naoya Inoue will have his second consecutive fight in Las Vegas and his third fight in America. The bantamweight destroyer, a huge star in his native Japan, is starting to enjoy star status in the US.
Right now, there seems to be a trend, started by Bob Arum, with Inoue being called “the next Manny Pacquiao.”
Inoue is the next “Monster” to have invaded the pound-for-pound rankings and to have that look, that looks where true greatness could be within his reach.
Inoue, who, unlike Pac Man, speaks no English, says he is happy to be referred to and recognized by his nickname (the emerging Pacquiao was also for some time primarily known by his catchy nickname). He also told ESPN how he is “feeling the expectations” to deliver a thrilling performance when he fights tonight and in the future.
Filipino Michael Dasmarinas stands in the opposite corner tonight, and the southpaw knows a win will make HIM a big star. Inoue is a big favorite to win tonight, though, and almost everyone is expecting another “Monster” knockout.
“I’m very happy that the nickname, ‘Monster’ comes before Naoya Inoue,” the WBA/IBF bantamweight ruler said this week.
“I’m very happy and honored, and I’ve taken ‘Monster’ in the United States as my name. I feel the expectations, and I want to answer those expectations, and I want to have a performance Saturday night to answer those expectations.”
Inoue has laid out his plans for all to hear – he wants to win all four belts at bantamweight to prove he is “the best.”
This means a victorious Inoue will have to fight Nonito Donaire again (yes, please, the November 2019 fight being an instant classic) and John Riel Casimero (this a fight that would have taken place last year, before the coronavirus spoilt things).
The way he punches, with the skill he has, as well as the toughness and heart he has got, it’s very hard to bet against Inoue achieving his goal of being the undisputed champ.
But Dasmarinas is very much a live underdog.
“I did everything I am supposed to do in training, and I am prepared,” Dasmarinas said. “America has to learn about my very hot and spicy punches (referring to his own nickname of ‘Hot and Spicy’).”
It would be a huge upset if Dasmarinas, 30-2-1(20), derailed Inoue, 20-0(17). In fact, it would be an upset of “Monster” proportions.
Forgive the pun and look instead for another highlight-reel KO from Inoue, somewhere around the fourth to the sixth round. Then again, another 1st round KO would not be a shock. When Inoue is in town, everyone should pay close attention.