By Jake Donovan
Boxing will once again be a family affair for Naoya and Takuma Inoue.
Perhaps the best brother tandem in the sport today, the pair of unbeaten bantamweights will both appear in separate and potential career-defining bouts on Nov. 7 in Saitama, Japan. Takuma’s place on the show was confirmed during a press conference held Monday in Japan to announce his title consolidation clash with unbeaten World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight titlist Nordine Oubaali.
Takuma Inoue (13-0, 3KOs) holds the interim title and for weeks has been negotiating terms to settle on a date and location for his first full-blown title fight.
“It's finally decided,” the younger Inoue declared on Monday. “I'm looking forward to joining my brother in the ring and I will not lose.”
Representatives from Oubaali’s camp informed BoxingScene.com that minor details remain before declaring the date and location as official. However, none are believed significant enough to hold up the fight.
The bout will serve as the chief support to the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament finals, as three-division titlist and pound-for-pound entrant Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16KOs) faces legendary four-division titlist Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26KOs). The main event doubles as a unification bout, giving the event three of the four major bantamweight titles along with an Inoue reunion for the first time since Naoya’s foray into the 118-pound division last May in Tokyo, Japan.
On that show, the elder Inoue claimed a secondary version of the bantamweight title, needing just 112 seconds to vanquish England’s Jamie McDonnell. The undercard saw Takuma Inoue also score a 1st round knockout, taking just 22 seconds longer than his brother to get rid of Waldo Sabu.
The event marked the ninth time that the Inoues fought on the same card, and also the last as Naoya Inoue has since ventured off into the WBSS tournament. Spectacular knockout wins over Juan Carlos Payano and previously unbeaten titlist Emmanuel Rodriguez have strengthened his case as arguably the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world today.
Takuma Inoue joined him on the title stage, albeit via interim capacity following a 12-round win over previously unbeaten Petch Sor Chitpattana last December.
One month later came the arrival of Oubaali (16-0, 12KOs), a two-time Olympian for France who claimed the vacant WBC 118-pound title following a spirited points win over Rau’Shee Warren in January. The bout was a rematch to their meeting in the 2012 London Olympics, when Oubaali ended Warren’s third Olympic tour in the second round of competition.
One title defense has since followed for Oubaali, a 6th round knockout of Arthur Villanueva in July. Immediately thereafter followed ongoing talks to finalize terms for a clash with the younger Inoue. A place on the WBSS undercard was always the frontrunner, although also under consideration were Monte Carlo as well as a lucrative offer from Morocco, where Oubaali—who is of Moroccan descent—has longed to host a title fight.
Instead, he will hit the road for his second title defense, along with doing his best to spoil the family reunion.
“Oubaali is my strongest opponent (to date),” acknowledges Takuma Inoue. “I want to win with my brother on November 7th.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox