Japan's unbeaten 'Monster' defends title in Vegas debut
Los Angeles (AFP) –
Japan's unbeaten Naoya Inoue, known as "Monster" for his devastating punching power, risks two world welterweight titles Saturday in his Las Vegas debut against Australia's Jason Moloney.
The 12-round showdown inside a quarantine bubble at the MGM Grand ends a 51-week layoff for Inoue (19-0 with 16 knockouts) and sends Moloney (21-1 with 18 knockouts) back into the ring only four months after his fourth early stoppage victory in a row.
Inoue united the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association crowns last November by winning the World Boxing Super Series final over Filipino star Nonito Donaire by unanimous decision after dispatching four prior foes in less than three rounds.
"It's not that I'm always going to knock out my opponents," Inoue told fight telecaster ESPN. "I want to show that kind of fighting as well, but I don't believe that's what boxing is all about. I want to show all my techniques and abilities."
Inoue was to have faced John Riel Casimero last April but the bout was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic and the Japanese star's ring return in a new deal with promoter Bob Arum was delayed several months.
"Naoya Inoue is a generational talent, the sort of fighter who comes around once a decade," Arum said. "He will be a major star stateside in no time. You are looking at an all-time great who is entering the prime of what will be a historic career."
Moloney, 29, stopped Mexico's Leonardo Baez after seven rounds in June and has been on a knockout role since his lone defeat -- a split-decision loss two years ago to Puerto Rico's Emmanuel Rodriguez for the IBF world title.
"He's an all-around high-level fighter," Inoue said of Moloney. "Finding his weakness is very difficult. I am well prepared."
Inoue, 27, turned professional at age 19 in 2012, won the World Boxing Council light flyweight world title in his sixth pro start and moved through the ranks to claim a world junior bantamweight title.
"I'm far from being satisfied with my own boxing. That is why I can keep myself motivated to become stronger," Inoue said. "I still have room to be better. I'm cautious not to get overconfident."
© 2020 AFP