July 19, 2017
July 19, 2017
Naoya Inoue

Action Images/Reuters/Toru Hanai

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ON September 9, the super-flyweight division will come under the spotlight as a tantalising triple-header takes place at The StubHub Center in California.

A week before boxing’s most anticipated match-up between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin in Las Vegas, the biggest stars at 115lbs will take to the ring for a trio of potentially captivating fights.

It will be Nicaraguan icon Roman Gonzalez that headlines the star-studded card on American soil, as he collides with maiden conqueror Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in a rematch of their initial March 18 epic.

With four-weight world champion ‘Chocolatito’ being the showcase attraction in what could be another barnburner of a main event, his former opponents and previous world champions Juan Francisco Estrada and Carlos Cuadras will also face-off.

Meanwhile, Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue will make his American debut in the card’s co-featured pairing as he attempts to defend his WBO super-flyweight title for what would be an impressive sixth time.

Despite such a strong roster of star super-flyweight names on show and ahead of what is a daunting challenge in California, Cleveland native Antonio Nieves is the fighter aiming to steal the show with success.

The 30-year-old is the latest man to contest Japan’s leading light Inoue and he is preparing relentlessly to tame ‘the Monster’ and subsequently realise his dream of becoming world champion.

“He’s a great fighter and he has a great record. But what does that mean?” Nieves told Boxing News.

“I got into this fight game to fight the best, be the best and become world champion. To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man. So here we are.”

‘Carita’ will take to the ring against Inoue on the back of his maiden career setback, having came out on the wrong end of a split decision against Brooklyn-based Russian foe Nikolai Potapov In March.

That narrow loss in Detroit followed a stoppage success over Szilveszter Ajtai and a prior draw with Alejandro Santiago, with Nieves now seeking to achieve what 13 fighters have so far failed to do and overcome Inoue.

The latter WBO title holder has halted his last three consecutive opponents to retain his crown in rampant fashion, including a brutal knockout of Mexican Ricardo Rodriguez last time out in May.

In spite of the ferocious fashion in which Inoue has been dispatching the challengers for his super-flyweight strap, latest adversary Nieves believes the champion has enjoyed somewhat of a routine career path so far.

“You know, I take nothing from Inoue,” continued the American challenger.

“I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, he’s a great fighter, that’s why he is the champion, but I believe it has been easy for him in all his past fights.”

Inoue is already hailed as a household name in his homeland and his immediate aim is to attract a much more wide scale audience beyond Japan, starting in the United States.

Having been taken the full 12-round distance on just one occasion to date in his promising career, by game Mexican David Carmona in May last year, the hard-hitting Asian will attempt to continue his devastating surge in California and further boost his already growing reputation.

Although, determined challenger Nieves is preparing to step up and tame ‘the Monster’ from the Land of the Rising Sun, an incredible feat which would undoubtedly brighten his own career prospects immensely overnight.

“He’s been able to do as he pleases so far. Come September 9, we plan on changing that.”

Naoya Inoue