Takuma Inoue will carry the same mindset that propelled him to his first title win.
A dangerous defense awaits the reigning WBA bantamweight beltholder, who faces former IBF 115-pound titlist Jerwin Ancajas. The bout takes place on February 24 at the famed Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo, where Inoue turned pro in December 2013 and now returns with a title in tow.
The way he sees it, however, there is something to prove against his well-credentialed opponent.
“I’m in a challenger state of mind,” Inoue told BoxingScene.com. “Ancajas has defended his title nine times when he was the IBF [115-pound] champion.”
Inoue came up aces in his second bid to win a belt when he outpointed Liborio Solis in their vacant WBA bantamweight title fight last April 8 in Tokyo. The win extended his current five-fight win streak dating back to his November 2019 defeat to then-unbeaten WBC bantamweight titlist Nordine Oubaali in Saitama, Japan.
The belt acquired last April was left behind by Naoya Inoue, Takuma’s older brother who previously held the undisputed bantamweight championship before he vacated last January. Takuma Inoue (18-1, 4KOs) was the first to fill the title vacancy among the four available belts.
His first defense was delayed when the younger Inoue suffered an injury ahead of his previously scheduled November 15 bout versus the Philippines’ Ancajas (34-3-2, 23KOs).
Experience certainly lies with the visiting challenger.
Ancajas is 9-2-1 (6KOs) in major title fights dating back to his September 2016 win over then-unbeaten McJoe Arroyo. Nine successful defenses followed before he suffered back-to-back defeats to Fernando ‘Puma’ Martinez in 2022. A confidence restoring fifth-round knockout of Wilner Soto last June 24 put the 32-year-old southpaw back in the win column and in position to attempt to become a two-division titlist.
“Jerwin is a well-rounded fighter that has good technique and power,” acknowledged Inoue.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox