Though Japanese “Monster” Naoya Inoue didn’t score the KO of the night last night (this honor has to of course go to Gervonta Davis; “Tank’s” brutal one-punch KO of the seriously tough Leo Santa Cruz arguably The KO of The Year), the unbeaten bantamweight sensation certainly delivered a fine performance in crushing a game and dangerous Jason Moloney in seven rounds to retain his IBF and WBA 118 pound titles.
Inoue, who dropped the previously unstopped Australian in the 6th round with a left and then took him out in the seventh with a right hand, was having his Las Vegas debut and last night’s fight was the 27-year old’s first in almost a full year – since his thrilling but tough and damaging decision win over Nonito Donaire. But if anyone had any fears Inoue, 20-0(17) might have taken too much in the Donaire battle last November, that he might be affected by the broken orbital bone he picked up in the FOTY, such fears soon vanished.
Inoue was brilliant last night, as fast, as aggressive, as powerful as ever. Now back to his KO ways, “The Monster” is eager for more. As in more titles. Inoue, who said after taking out Moloney, 21-2(18) that he feels he is getting better and better as a fighter, wants to unify the bantamweight division. Oh, and Inoue wants to become THE best fighter on the planet. Unifying the titles might prove an easier task than Inoue becoming the Pound-for-Pound best. There sure are some superb fighters operating today – Tank Davis, Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney, Oleksandr Usyk, Ryan Garcia, and more.
Next up for Inoue, we hope, will be that WBA/IBF/WBO unification meeting with John Riel Casimero, who Inoue was to have fought back in April before you know what messed things up. Casimero has been extremely vocal, insisting he can and will defeat Inoue. This fight is even bigger now. Aside from that, Inoue has in his crosshairs the winner of the December fight between WBC bantamweight champ Nordine Ouabaali and Donaire.
Inoue against Donaire in a rematch, anyone? In light of how great the November fight was, who wouldn’t want to see a sequel? But can Donaire dethrone Oubaali? Or was that terrific effort against Inoue the 37-year-old Filipino’s last great fighting effort and performance? The bantamweight division is exciting right now, and it’s largely down to Inoue. And, without being disrespectful to Inoue’s two rival champions at the weight, it would take a brave fan to predict anything but Inoue as the undisputed ruler at 118. If Inoue can get the fights.
After that, who knows – maybe “The Monster” will look for additional prey up a weight class, or two.