Naoya Inoue destroys boxing stereotypes

Nikkei -- Jul 03

Which professional boxer can lay claim to being the strongest in the sport, pound for pound?

If the authoritative, century-old U.S. boxing magazine The Ring is making the call, the title goes to Japan's Naoya Inoue, nicknamed "The Monster."

Inoue, owner of three of the world's four bantamweight crowns, would hardly disagree. "As a professional boxer, I don't only want to win," he said during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo on June 27, after earning The Ring's PFP (pound for pound) title. "My aim is to put on a wonderful show for fans with a knockout. I think my way of boxing was recognized and has let me enter the rankings that heavier boxers have dominated."

The Ring, which has published its PFP rankings for over 30 years, has mostly chosen much larger boxers popular in Western countries. These include former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather, a former undefeated champion in five weight divisions. Both are from the U.S.

Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, once a champion in six divisions, current heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk from Ukraine, and Americans Terence Crawford and Errol Spence -- both undefeated welterweight champs -- are all ranked high.

Inoue's bantamweight division, with an upper limit of 53.5 kg, is the fifth-lightest of all 17 divisions. Bantamweights do not punch as hard as heavier boxers, nor do their fights often end in dramatic knockouts. Hence, they are often overlooked by the public. However, the Monster's ferocious performances have heads spinning in the boxing world.