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Arum: I Think Inoue Will Be A Huge Star In The U.S. & Around The World

Bob Arum expected a large contingent of Japanese fans to pack Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday night to witness Naoya Inoue’s return to the United States.

Like every other scheduled bout in boxing, Inoue’s bantamweight championship unification fight against the Philippines’ Johnriel Casimero was postponed indefinitely last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Inoue-Casimero might be delayed longer than some other bouts because coronavirus-related travel restrictions could keep Inoue from leaving Japan for the United States for an extended period even after American cities reopen.

Whenever Inoue fights in the U.S. again, Arum believes that the Japanese knockout artist will become one of boxing’s biggest attractions worldwide. Inoue, who is co-promoted by Arum’s Top Rank Inc., has fought just twice outside of Japan – once in Carson, California, and once in Glasgow, Scotland – since making his pro debut in October 2012.

“I think he is gonna be a huge star,” Arum told BoxingScene.com, “both in the United States and around the world.”

naoya-inoue_5

The 27-year-old Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) already is a three-division champion and a mainstream star in his homeland. The IBF/WBA bantamweight champion also is commonly rated among the top five fighters, pound-for-pound, in boxing.

Inoue’s 12-round, unanimous-decision victory over five-division champ Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs) on November 7 in Saitama, Japan, was voted “Fight of the Year” for 2019 by the Boxing Writers Association of America.

“He comes to fight,” Arum said. “He’s crowd-pleasing. You’ve got some guys out there who are great fighters, but they’re not very crowd-pleasing. This kid, a 118-pounder, with the power that he has, is really unusual. And you saw in the Donaire fight, even when he can’t utilize the power because he’s in with a terrific boxer, like Donaire is, he has a way to press, to come through and to win the fight.”

ESPN was supposed to televise the 12-round bout between Inoue and Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs), the WBO champion, as the main event of a doubleheader last month.

Assuming Las Vegas re-establishes itself as a top tourist destination once this pandemic ends, Arum envisions Inoue becoming a gate attraction there.

“We’re all in unchartered waters, and we have to see how this plays out,” Arum said. “But obviously, one of the reasons we were so enthused about Inoue was that he would bring over a lot of Japanese fans to watch him fight. And also, there are a lot of Japanese Americans living in the United States, who know Inoue and would be great customers at his fights. There’s a Japanese restaurant in Las Vegas that [my wife] Lovee and I go to all the time, and all they wanna talk to me about is Inoue.” 

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

User Comments and Feedback
Comment by Kannabis Kid on 05-05-2020

[QUOTE=ShoulderRoll;20550654]Narvaez is way past done. I know what weight those others fight at. I mentioned them because they are true elite talents who are either right below or right above his weight class. If he wants to be considered #1…

Comment by TMLT87 on 05-05-2020

Define "huge star" Hes obviously already got a following in his homeland and among hardcore boxing fans, but its unlikely hes going to be a PPV attraction or a guy that casuals know about.

Comment by ShoulderRoll on 05-05-2020

[QUOTE=Kannabis Kid;20550384]Estrada is a 115 lber, Navarette a 122 who is going up to 126 most likely after this corona and Narvaez had still never been stopped doesn't matter his age Inoue ran through him. Nery can't make 118 he's…

Comment by Kannabis Kid on 05-04-2020

[QUOTE=ShoulderRoll;20550255]Narvaez is anothet old man like Donaire. I would want Inoue to beat a young, prime elite. Someone like Gallo Estrada, Nery, or Navarrete. That would show me something.[/QUOTE] Estrada is a 115 lber, Navarette a 122 who is going…

Comment by ShoulderRoll on 05-04-2020

[QUOTE=Kannabis Kid;20550147]And who exactly do you want him to fight? The only other person at 118 is Casimero who he was already scheduled to fight before this corona ****. Nery can't make 118 so who else can he fight at…

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