Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Naoya Inoue next fight: Undisputed super bantamweight champion to face Luis Nery in May

Luis Nery has made waves in Japan in the past — though for the wrong reasons. On May 6, Nery has the chance to return to the country in hopes of pulling off a massive upset when he faces undisputed super bantamweight champion and top pound-for-pound fighter Naoya Inoue. Top Rank announced the fight as official on Tuesday.

The bout will take place inside Tokyo Dome, which has not played host to a major boxing match since James “Buster” Douglas’ all-time upset over Mike Tyson in 1990.

Inoue will be making his first defense as undisputed champion at the weight. After going undisputed at bantamweight in 2022, Inoue moved to 122 pounds in July 2023 with an incredible eighth-round stoppage win over Stephen Fulton to win the WBC and WBO titles. He closed out the year with a 10th-round knockout of Marlon Tapales to add the IBF and WBA titles to his collection.

Prior to his undisputed runs at bantamweight and super bantamweight, Inoue held world titles at junior flyweight and junior bantamweight. Inoue also has 23 stoppage wins during his undefeated 26-0 professional career.

Nery’s bad reputation in Japan is likely to help fill Tokyo Dome. Technically, he is suspended indefinitely from competing in the country. That suspension is the product of his two fights with popular Japanese fighter Shinsuke Yamanaka.

Nery captured both the WBC and Ring Magazine bantamweight titles with a fourth-round stoppage over Yamanaka in August 2017. A Nery failed drug test, ruled by the WBC to have been from contaminated food, resulted in Nery being ordered to rematch Yamanaka. The first fight between Nery and Yamanaka was reportedly watched by more than seven million people in Japan.

That rematch for the WBC title took place in March 2018, with Nery getting the finish in even quicker fashion, stopping Yamanaka in the second round. This time around, Nery missed weight for three pounds, leaving him ineligible to win the title.

The ethics committee for the Japan Boxing Commission met after the rematch and ruled to ban Nery from competing in the country at any point in the future.

According to the initial report on Inoue vs. Nery from Boxing Scene’s Jake Donovan, the Inoue team was working with the JBC to lift Nery’s suspension after Inoue called for a fight with Nery, who is the current No. 1 contender in the WBC rankings.

The fight with Nery would be the first of Inoue’s previously announced plan to fight three times in 2024.

Nery holds a 35-1 record, with his lone loss coming against Brandon Figueroa in May 2021. The fight with Figueroa was Nery’s first defense of his WBC super bantamweight title. Since the loss, he has picked up four consecutive victories.

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