Naoya Inoue To Stay At 122 This Year; Says “The Reason I Box Is Not For The Money”

By James Slater - 02/14/2024 - Comments

Naoya Inoue isn’t in it for the money. The 30 year old in-his-prime Japanese superstar has informed that although he could make the move up to the featherweight division, he will not do so “just because the money is good.” The same goes for the super featherweight division, “The Monster” said.

Inoue, who is the unified king at super bantamweight, the feat achieved after just two fights at the weight, says he will stay where he is for the remainder of this year at least and that he will see how his body feels next year. Inoue, 26-0(23) and a four-weight world champion, says fighters before him “chased the money,” and he points out how some of them “did not perform well and quit.”

Inoue says he is in the sport not for the cash, but to “show my best self.” Inoue says he plans to box three times this year, in May (against Luis Nery, in Tokyo on May 6) and in September and December.

“I’m sure these three fights will take place at super bantamweight. My move up to featherweight will depend on how I and my body feel next year,” Inoue said. “I always want to show the best Naoya Inoue. I wouldn’t decide to start fighting at featherweight or super featherweight just because the money is good. I don’t think that’s what I want. Many fighters chased the money but did not perform well and quit. The reason I box is not for the money; I do this to show my best self. It’s also true that I’m motivated by fighting strong opponents, but there are weight divisions in boxing for a reason.”

It’s refreshing that Inoue is not money-orientated, while it’s sensible on his part to not be rushing up too high in weight. Some fans, perhaps Inoue critics who appear almost desperate to see him lose, have asked for the former light-flyweight champion to take on the likes of Gervonta Davis! Thankfully, any and all talk of such a foolish and unlikely match up has gone away.

Inoue will do what is best for him, and good on him. That said, Inoue is so good, so great, it may well prove tough finding him two more suitable and capable 122 pound opponents for him to fight after he’s fought Nery. Nery is a good fighter, but not too many people are expecting him to pull off the big upset and beat Inoue. So, who does Inoue face at 122 in September and December?

We will wait and see. But Inoue is such a fine fighter, he is such a joy to watch, that whoever he faces in the ring it’s well worth tuning in for. That move to 126, and perhaps beyond, will have to wait until 2025 at the earliest, however.