For some people, bantamweight destroyer and current WBA/IBF/WBC champion Naoya Inoue is already the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world today. “The Monster” says he needs to unify the bantamweight division and then move up and rule at super-bantamweight to achieve the distinction. Inoue, who ruined Nonito Donaire inside a couple of rounds in their return fight, adding the WBC belt to the WBA and IBF titles he already held, now wants the sole strap that’s left, this the WBO title which is currently the property of Britain’s Paul Butler.
Speaking with the media in his homeland of Japan today, Inoue, 23-0(20) said he wants to fight Butler next and then make the move up to 122 pounds. Another Inoue’s goals is to retire unbeaten, this at the age of 35.
“People were saying that me becoming the number one pound-for-pound fighter all depended on what happened in the [second] Donaire fight, and things worked out as well as I could have imagined,” Inoue said. “From here on in, I want to give performances worthy of the number one pound-for-pound fighter. In order to do that, I need to unify the bantamweight titles and then take on the super-bantamweight division. If it (the Butler fight) happens by the end of this year, I don’t care whether it happens in Japan, the US or Britain. It really doesn’t matter to me. I want the fight wherever it is. I always try to knock out my opponent and I think that’s been recognised.”
There is zero doubt about it: Inoue’s “Monster” punching power has been recognised by all. Some fans moaned and groaned when Ring Magazine placed the 29 year old at the top of their pound-for-pound rankings, while others agreed and do agree. But it’s great that Inoue himself feels he needs to do more in order to be fully recognised as the best of the best. Inoue is still ambitious and, as “easy” an assignment as a fight with Butler, 34-2(19), may be in the opinion of many, Inoue taking on the best at 122 will be something to see.
Can Inoue rule the world at a fourth weight class? If so, will everyone agree Inoue is the pound-for-pound best on the planet? Inoue says he hopes to be fully content by the time he turns 35.
“I’d like to think that when I turn 35, I will be able to look back and think I was happy that I became a boxer,” he said.
We fans sure are happy Inoue became a boxer. If you don’t agree that Inoue is the pound-for-pound best right now, you have to agree he is one of the most consistently exciting fighters operating today. Has Inoue ever been in a dull fight? Is such a thing even possible? Paul Butler faces a daunting task indeed.