You may or may not be aware of the fact that Naoyo Inoue, the reigning WBA and IBF bantamweight champion of the world, defended his title in Japan this past Tuesday. He stopped the unheralded Aran Dipaen in eight rounds, in a bout that looked at times like a brisk sparring session.
Inoue, isn't just a unified champion, but on the very short list of elite prizefighters. He's one of the most dynamic and exciting boxers on the planet.
Now it's time for Top Rank to promote him as such. Or at least give him half the attention they give to Nico Ali Walsh.
Yeah, that's a bit of a cheap shot (sorry, I couldn't resist), but the reality is that this bout wasn't available on ESPN+, or any other platform in the States. Die hard fans who wanted to see this contest -- which could be best described as a stay-busy bout -- found, ahem....other means to view this fight.
But this has to be said, since inking a promotional deal with Top Rank after his victor over future Hall-of-Famer, Nonito Donaire at the end of 2019, he has fought just three times since then.
He knocked out Jason Moloney last October, and then Michael Dasmarinas this past June, and then Dipaen.
'the Monster' hasn't really been treated as a priority, but an afterthought.
To be fair, this career has been greatly impacted by the world-wide pandemic, and the restrictive policies of Japan. Inoue was slated to face John Riel Casimero (then the WBO 118-pound belt holder) in a highly anticipated unification bout in April of 2020 in Las Vegas, that was selling very well at the box-office. Unfortunately, that bout was an early casualty of the coronavirus.
Some of this has been beyond the control of Top Rank.
At age 28, he's still very much in his prime, and their is some concern that his best years are being squandered.
Now, turning the page to 2022 it's time for the company to get him out there three times, and make meaningful fights like the rematch Donaire -- now the WBC bantamweight titlist -- and build him into an attraction. One that becomes destination viewing on ESPN, and one that continues to build his legacy.
In other words, be a promoter that is worthy of a talent like Inoue.
That's what he signed up for.
Some thoughts on the upcoming bouts that take place this Friday and Saturday....
- Things get started early on Friday on DAZN ( 7 am, ET/4 pm, PT) with a card from Uzbekistan, as Israil Madrimov takes on Michel Soro in what is a title eliminator for the WBA at 154. Madrimov was a highly touted prospect from the day he turned pro and fast tracked to a title shot. Not saying he hasn't lived up to the hype but there have been times he hasn't looked quite ready for the upper echelon of the division. You wonder with just seven bouts under his belt, if he's ready for a battle-tested veteran like Soro.
Also on this card are his stablemates, Bektemir Melikuziev, and Shakram Giyasov, who like Madrimov are trained by Joel Diaz.
- Later on that night on ESPN+ (8 pm, ET/5 pm, PT) from the Bell Centre in Montreal, unified light heavyweight champion, Artur Beterbiev, takes on his WBC mandatory, Marcus Browne. The question here is if Beterbiev's last outing, a 10th round KO of Adam Deines, was more a function of ring rust, or an indicator of corrosion. The 36 year old Beterbiev is a fighter that has had just four outings since the end of 2017, and has been beset by various ailments that have kept him out of the ring.
Browne, is chinny, but he also is a tall, rangy athletic southpaw. Things could get interesting if he gets out of the early rounds.
- On Saturday, there is a heavyweight tussle between Joseph Parker and Dereck Chisora (DAZN, 1 pm, ET/10 am, PT) in what could best be described as a 'loser leaves town' match.
- DAZN continues it's busy schedule from San Antonio (9 pm, ET/6 pm, PT) where former WBO super middleweight titlist, Gilberto 'Zurdo' Ramirez, faces Yunieski Gonzalez in a light heavyweight bout. Ramirez despite his gaudy record (42-0, 28 KOs) has been largely a beige spot on a beige wall. But under the direction of new trainer, Julian Chua, he hopes to make the case to eventually earn a shot at Saul Alvarez. He was emphatic in stopping the faded Sullivan Barrera over the summer in four rounds. It says here that with a win, that the fight with WBA 175-pound champion, Dmitry Bivol, should become a priority for both sides.
Also on this bill is an interesting junior lightweight match-up between Lamont Roach and Rene Alvarado. WBA womens minimum champion, Seniesa Estrada, is on this broadcast
- Yeah, the headline bout from Tampa, Florida is the rematch between Jake Paul and Tyrone Woodley, but the contest I'm most interested in is the one between Frank Gore and Deron Williams, in an NFL-NBA match-up. Gore, who was a standout at the University of Miami before embarking on a long career in the NFL, has actually dabbled in boxing for years during his off-seasons.
All I can say is, lets go Canes.
Here is this weeks edition of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' on Triller with Mario Lopez and myself, as we review the victories of Vasiliy Lomachenko and Nonito Donaire. We also preview this upcoming weekend in the sport
Thompson Boxing has a card that will be streamed on their YouTube page on Friday night with Saul Sanchez and Ruben Torres co-headlining from the DoubleTree Hotel in Ontario....PBC on FOX goes on Saturday night from the Armory in Minnesota. The main event features David Morrell facing Alantez Fox....That season finale of 'Succession' on HBO, wow.....Seriously, it's been pretty cold in Southern California this week, dipped into the mid-40's....I can be reached at email@example.com...