Opinion | Nov 12 2014

Naoya Inoue following in the footsteps of Roberto Duran and Shane Mosley as he jumps two divisions

Naoya Inoue's leap to super-flyweight is a calculated risk, writes Daniel Herbert
Naoya Inoue
Naoya Inoue  |  Naoki Fukuda

SO Naoya Inoue will challenge veteran Omar Naravez of Argentina for the WBO super-flyweight title next month (December 30, in Tokyo). Inoue is a wunderkind of Japanese boxing, having won the WBC light-flyweight belt in only his sixth paid fight in April. Still only 21, Inoue’s now going for his second world title, and while there are a lot of lower weight divisions close together, it’s still a notable achievement if he pulls it off.

Inoue has relinquished his light-flyweight (108lbs) title because of weight problems and has, somewhat unusually, bypassed the flyweights (112lbs) to invade the super-flies (115lbs). This could well be smart matchmaking on behalf of the Japanese talent’s handlers. Narvaez is 39 years old and has plenty of miles on the clock. He’s almost certainly more beatable than some of the terrors atop the flyweight division, such as the big-hitting Nicaraguan Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. If Inoue beats Narvaez, then he can always defend against Gonzalez in a superfight somewhere down the line – by which time he will have accumulated a bit more experience.

And it’s not as if bypassing a weight class is unheard of in boxing history. Two other examples come to mind. Roberto Duran was a dominant lightweight champion through most of the 1970s, and there was talk that he might challenge fellow-Panamanian Antonio Cervantes for the WBA light-welter belt. (This was after Cervantes had lost the title to Wilfred Benitez then regained it when Benitez was stripped for failing to give him a rematch).

 

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