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Naoya Inoue: Boxing's real life Monster resumes quest for pound-for-pound supremacy against Luis Nery

Undisputed phenom Naoya Inoue continues his quest for pound-for-pound supremacy when he takes on Luis Nery - is he the most dangerous fighter on the planet?; watch Inoue face Nery live on Sky Sports from 9am on Monday

Naoya Inoue

He's diminutive, and so very towering. Quiet, and yet so very loud. He's a little bit fast, a little bit frightening, a little bit mysterious, a little bit good. He fights on Boxing Day and random week days. His supremacy is missed by some, and yet championed as greatness by others. 

Naoya Inoue might be the most dangerous man on the planet. His dominance might also slip through the mainstream net far too often, far too easily.

Rarely does he or his excellence venture outside of his Japanese fortress - only four times, in fact. There he is a God, to challenge whom hopeful warriors travel long and far, only to be mercilessly slain by boxing's real life Monster.

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Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue shared an intense face-off with Luis Nery ahead of their undisputed world super-bantamweight title fight in Tokyo on Monday, live on Sky Sports.

Mike Tyson referred to him as the best boxer in the world, and suggested in 2021 that he was even more gifted than the great Manny Pacquiao. Inoue is now gearing up to stage the first boxing event at the 55,000-capacity Tokyo Dome since Tyson's famous defeat to James 'Buster' Douglas in 1990 as he defends his undisputed super-bantamweight championship against Luis Nery, live on Sky Sports from 9am on Monday.

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With Naoya Inoue scheduled to fight on Sky Sports once again, check out his destructive stoppage win over Marlon Tapales

Limited sightings beyond the borders of his home country and obvious language barriers no doubt contribute to a profile denied the same spotlit clamour as his pound-for-pound counterparts, but that does not deter from the wonder, the marvel. The quiet demeanour and baby-faced appearance is a veil for venom, and the sleight frame a disguise for destructive knockout power, the kind of which no man can live with.

He poses a conundrum like few others. Trade with him at your peril; run from him, to where?

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In Nery comes a willing combatant with a fearless belligerence that will empower him to go toe-to-toe with Inoue. He is a capable contender, but will arrive in Tokyo to be greeted by a different kind of talent. Nobody has threatened Inoue; nobody has come close to threatening Inoue, no matter how qualified. Nery, for all his attributes, is merely the next in line.

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The Mexican is no stranger to Japanese fans, having tested positive for a banned substance - later put down to contaminated food - after beating Shinsuke Yamanaka via fourth-round stoppage in 2017, before missing weight as he triumphed again during the rematch a year later. Tokyo worships Inoue; the support might be amplified to new decibels when a not-so-popular Nery pulls up in town.

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Watch ringside footage as Naoya Inoue produced an explosive stoppage of Stephen Fulton to become a four-division world champion. Credit: Top Rank

"The day it was announced all 55,000 seats were sold," Top Rank CEO Bob Arum told Sky Sports. "Everybody in Japan is really invested in the match, they don't like Nery, the poor guy is coming into a very hostile environment - but at least he's getting paid good money!

"Inoue is one of my favourite fighters. No 1, he's such a lovely young man, really nice with a great personality, and I can tell that even though I can't speak Japanese and he can't speak English.

"I've never seen anything like it, the way he fights. A little guy like Inoue, with massive knockout power, he's really something to see."

Inoue is currently ranked No 2 behind only Terence Crawford on BoxRec's pound-for-pound list. He may have a case for a spot at the top.

The 31-year-old is just the second man in history behind Crawford to become an undisputed champion in two weight classes in the four-belt era, earning his place as ruler of the super-bantamweight division with a 10th-round knockout win over Marlon Tapales in December. In doing so, he has now held world championships in four weight classes since working his way up from light flyweight.

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Highlights of the WBC & WBO super-bantamweight title clash between Stephen Fulton and Naoya Inoue

Inoue set the tone for his career upon turning professional with Ohashi Gym in 2012 when he signed an agreement with Hideyuki Ohashi to never face easy opponents, as much evidenced six fights into his career when he knocked out two-division champion Adrian Hernandez in the sixth round to become WBC light flyweight champion.

Two fights later he knocked out Omar Narváez in December 2014 to capture his second world title in the WBO junior bantamweight belt, before reeling off seven straight defences over the next two years.

In May 2018 he stopped Jamie McDonnell in the first round to win the WBA (Regular) bantamweight title, and would then overcome Nonito Donaire via unanimous decision to win the WBA (Super) bantamweight title and World Boxing Super Series bantamweight final in November 2019.

Jason Maloney was next to endure the ruthless Inoue experience in 2020, suffering a brutal seventh-round knockout defeat, simply no match for the blistering speed, volume and clinical accuracy of his opponent. Donaire then sought revenge in a rematch, only for the former world champion to be blown away in the second as the latter added the WBC bantamweight title to his collection.

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Naoya Inoue has devastating power in both hands and once he gets you hurt there is no way back!

Stephen Fulton had been touted as Inoue's most daunting obstacle yet last July, before being bullishly bypassed in the eighth round as The Monster captured the WBC and WBO super bantamweight titles. A brave and tough Tapales lasted two rounds longer, but eventually succumbed to the unwavering ferocity that had bombarded him since the first bell.

Fulton and Tapales were/are among the most accomplished operators in their weight classes. Between them they barely troubled Inoue. He is different, and the world knows it. Or does it?

He moves in fast forward, with the back-to-front foot transitions and set-up feints that are impossible to read such is the speed, guile and disguise with which he attacks. His distancing is consistently flawless, and even when it does stray he is too sharp for opponents to exploit the mere inkling of an opening.

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Naoya Inoue knocked out Michael Dasmarinas in the third round after a series of devastating body shots

The combinations are slick, electric and packing finisher's power in equal measure; the front-foot explosion is coupled with precise and expertly-timed counters; the pretty melees, the teasing drop of his fists and toying right hand fakes are matched with a relished nastiness and grittiness when the fight moves on the inside. It isn't like he hasn't been caught, either; it's just that he eats everything with remarkable ease, while landing a decisive blow in return for his troubles.

Inoue has become a spectacle of inevitability, with one of boxing's most accomplished armouries that seems to only grow in strength and danger as a fight and his career goes on.

The 5'5" Japanese giant has grown to be one of the sport's most enthralling case studies, rewarding his home support with regular opportunities to witness greatness while leaving the rest of the world lying in wait for him to grace their stage on a more frequent basis. But this is his world. He'll tour the globe on his terms.

Nery will try. Many have tried. In the end, Inoue governs his own class, his own calibre.

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