By Steve Kim Updated on May 08, 2024

Monday Morning Monster

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As Naoya Inoue was on his knee taking the mandatory eight count from referee, Michael Griffin, after getting sent down hard to the canvas by Luis Nery, shades of Mike Tyson's stunning upset loss to Buster Douglas reverberated throughout the venue. Primarily because this bout, like that historic upset in 1990, was held at the Tokyo Dome in Japan.

Alas, while Douglas was able to stop Tyson in 10 rounds, Inoue was able to dust himself off, and proceeded to systematically beat down the hard-hitting Mexican southpaw in six rounds to retain his undisputed junior featherweight title.

Picture for Monday Morning MonsterNaoki Fukuda/Top Rank

The stunning beginning, and the spectacular finish was the story of the bout which took place for American fans in the early hours on Monday. What took place in-between was pretty damn good, too.

Naoya Inoue Pushes Through Knockdown And Sleeps Luis Nery | FIGHT HIGHLIGHTS


Coming into this bout there was some extra pressure on Inoue. Not only was headlining an event before a sell-out crowd at the noted venue, but he was also facing  'Nery the Notorious'. After Nery's past indiscretions involving his bout against Shinsuke Yamanaka, he received a lifetime ban by the Japanese boxing commission. The ban was lifted to allow him to face Inoue.

What was expected wasn't so much just a prizefight, but a public execution of sorts -- retribution for Yamanaka and his countrymen.

Picture for Monday Morning Monster @LunatoonBoxing

This seemed to make Inoue a bit anxious in the beginning of the contest. He threw a wild overhand right in the opening moments. A high hard one, to send a message. But that over-aggression cost him later in the first as he opened up inside and dropped his right hand, leaving an opening for Nery's booming left. Just like that Inoue suffered his first knockdown.

Inoue said, "I appreciate Nery. That’s why I shook hands with him after the fight. The knockdown motivated me. I am thankful to have fought against a great fighter in Nery."

Inoue was able to weather the storm, and by the second stanza began to utilize a more measured approach. He focused on speed and straight punches down the middle that snapped Nery's head back. Then he evened things up by scoring a knockdown of his own with a counter left hook near the ropes that clipped a lunging Nery.

Picture for Monday Morning MonsterNaoki Fukuda/Top Rank

From there, Inoue began the process of breaking him down with quick salvos up top, and layering his attack with body shots. Nery was floored in the fifth from a left hook Inoue threw while crouched on the ropes, as he threaded the needled in-between Nery's punches. The rounded ended with him being dazed and disoriented from the dizzying array of leather that was coming at him.

After tenderizing Nery for a few rounds, Inoue fried him in the sixth with a right uppercut that was quickly followed up with a straight right. It was another highlight reel knockout for a fighter who has a litany full of them. Maybe only 'Prince' has a greatest hits album longer than 'the Monster'.

Inoue is the most exciting show in the game. He's also one of its most accomplished boxers. The Japanese star is a four-division champion, who has captured the undisputed claim at both 118 and 122. The victory over Nery was his third victory over a boxer rated in the top five in the division by Ring Magazine (Stephen Fulton and Marlon Tapales). All three were KO victims.

Picture for Monday Morning MonsterNaoki Fukuda/Top Rank

In addition to that, he participated in the 2019 'Fight of the Year' against  future Hall-of-Famer, Nonito Donaire, and was named the 2023 'Fighter of the Year' by Ring. If he retired today, he would be a sure fire, first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.

This is why Inoue is a national icon in 'the Land of the Rising Sun', and now a coveted world-wide brand. There is hope -- or is it wishful thinking? -- that he can make one more appearance in the States. There are reports that Turki Alalshikh would like to add him to a UK card in September that will feature Anthony Joshua. 

Picture for Monday Morning MonsterTop Rank

The great debate is just who is the current pound-for-pound king?: him or Terence Crawford? There is an argument for both -- and I wont argue with anyone's choice. To me, it's those two, and then everybody else. I choose to admire both of them. In an era of incomplete, flawed fighters who are given credit for doing the bare minimum, these two show that they could've competed well in any era of boxing.

“Inoue is among the greatest fighters I’ve promoted, and he was sensational once again. Nery came to win, but 'The Monster' was too much," said an admiring Bob Arum, the chairman of Top Rank. 

This is a guy worth waking up for.



Yes, I actually woke up (actually I just stayed up) to watch the whole card on Monday from Tokyo, which began at 1 am, PT... From top-to-bottom it was one of the better cards of the year...You have to give Shingo Inoue (the father) a lot of credit for his work. Not just for Naoya, but his other son, Takuma, who has really developed into a very good fighter himself. He successfully defended his WBA bantamweight title by out-pointing Sho Ishida....What were the odds that both Inoue's would both get knocked down in the first?....Yoshiki Takei nearly ran out of gas, but he heard the final bell, and was able to take the WBO bantamweight title from Jason Moloney...I can be reached at

About Author
Monday Morning Monster
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for
  • Was a boxing reporter for from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.