By Jake Donovan
From the moment he returned to the ring prior to New Year’s Eve, Naoya “Monster” Inoue became a hot button topic as boxing hipsters began fantasizing about his 2016 campaign.
Unfortunately, any dream matchups in mind for the road ahead will be preceded by a heaping dose of reality.
Waiting in the wings for the prodigious super flyweight champion is a mandatory title fight with David Carmona. The World Boxing Organization (WBO) ordered the title fight over the weekend, with the two sides granted a 10-day negotiation period between Inoue’s camp and Carmona’s promoter, Felix ‘Tutico’ Zabala Jr’s All-Star Boxing.
“Inoue and Carmona have 10 days to agree to terms, or else that will be our next purse bid hearing,” WBO President Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcarcel informed BoxingScene.com while in New York City to host a Tuesday purse bid for two more WBO title fights.
Should the two sides fail to reach terms, a purse bid hearing will be held at WBO headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The minimum acceptable bid for the 115 lb. title fight is $100,000 as per by the WBO championship rules.
Carmona was granted the title in lieu of a rematch with Warlito Parrenas, who wound up facing the unbeaten two-division champ last December in Tokyo, Japan. The two had previously fought to a disputed 12-round draw in a vacant interim title fight last July, with the fight designed to establish a mandatory challenger while Inoue was out for most of 2015 recovering from surgery.
Instead, it was agreed upon that both fighters would title shots rather than proceed to a second fight. The ruling could potentially place Inoue (9-0, 8KOs) in a bind, as he is contractually obligated to a rematch with Omar Narvaez, whom he knocked in two rounds in their Dec. ’14 title fight.
The title-winning effort capped an incredible run by Inoue, who claimed two major belts in as many weight classes through just eight pro fights. His 2014 campaign began with a 6th round knockout of Adrian Hernandez to win the junior flyweight belt, making one defense before moving up two weight classes to face and beat Narvaez.
Hernandez and Narvaez were considered the top-rated fighters at junior flyweight and super flyweight, respectively, at the time of their knockout defeats. It was enough for Inoue to land 2014 Fighter of the Year honors by several outlets, including BoxingScene.com.
Injuries kept him out of the ring for most of 2015, thus taking him out of the running to repeat honors. He stands a great chance of once again entering that conversation should any of his dream fights manage to materialize in the next 12 months.
The rapidly rising star – who turns just 23 years of age in April –has mentioned desired showdowns with fellow unbeaten 115 lb. titlist Carlos Cuadras and reigning World flyweight king Roman ‘Chocolaitito’ Gonzalez, whom many regard as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world at present moment. HBO has name-dropped Inoue in recent telecasts, with the network brass keen on a Gonzalez clash at some point in the future.
It will require tending to present business at hand sooner rather than later, if he is to make it all happen while still able to make the 115 lb. limit.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox