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[ODDS and EVENS] The Dysfunctional State of Boxing as Naoya Inoue Plots Next Move

Should boxing superstar "Monster" Inoue fulfill the WBA's wishes and make a mandatory title defense against Murodjon Akhmadaliev or fight someone else instead?



Undisputed super bantamweight world champion Naoya Inoue trains at Ohashi Boxing Gym in Yokohama on May 29, 2024. (©SANKEI)

Read the full story on SportsLook - [ODDS and EVENS] The Dysfunctional State of Boxing as Naoya Inoue Plots Next Move

With four major (and dueling) professional boxing organizations administering separate rankings and awarding separate title belts, nobody's really in charge. It's a dog-eat-dog world in and out of the ring. 

Exhibit A: the ongoing row surrounding who and when undisputed super bantamweight world champion Naoya Inoue will fight again.

The World Boxing Association has declared that Inoue must meet Uzbek fighter Murodjon Akhmadaliev, its No 1-ranked challenger in the weight division, in a mandatory title defense. A deadline of September 25 was set for Inoue.

In issuing this communique, the WBA delivered the following message to Inoue: Fight Akhmadaliev or lose your WBA belt.

Year after year, boxers, aided and abetted by their managers and promoters, ignore mandatory title defense ultimatums and arrange for fights against different opponents.

Again, remember that boxing has no centralized supreme authority. So it often makes sense from a chasing-dollars standpoint for high-profile boxers and their handlers to pick and choose fights based on how much money is involved in the deal.

Ohashi Boxing Gym president Hideyuki Ohashi underscored this point in his reaction to the WBA's recent demand that the 31-year-old Inoue (27-0, 24 knockouts) must fight Akhmadaliev by the aforementioned date.

"It doesn't matter if the WBA title is stripped away," Ohashi said on June 14, according to Kyodo News

Why did Ohashi say that?

From left, Ohashi Boxing Gym president Hideyuki Ohashi, Naoya Inoue and Shingo Inoue, the boxer's father and coach, pose for photos on May 29. (©SANKEI)

Different Plans in Place for Boxing Superstar Inoue

"Monster" Inoue's handlers are arranging a fight against another foe. It is expected to be against Irishman TJ Doheny (26-4, 20 KOs), the No 2 super bantamweight in the World Boxing Organization's rankings. Doheny is also the International Boxing Federation's seventh-ranked super bantamweight, and he's ranked seventh by the World Boxing Council and eighth by the WBA.

Top Rank, Inc chief Bob Arum, whose organization and Ohashi Promotions collaborate to promote Inoue, outlined the plan in a recent interview with Boxing Scene.

Inoue would fight the 37-year-old Doheny (September 9 is listed as the target date, according to published reports) and then take on 25-year-old Australian Sam Goodman (18-0, eight KOs) in a December bout in Japan, the boxing mogul said.

For those keeping score at home, Goodman isn't among the top-10 ranked super bantamweights, but he's No 1 in both the IBF and WBO rankings and seventh on the WBC chart.

Based on his track record of success and exceptional all-around boxing skills, it's very likely that Inoue would beat both Doheny and Goodman to maintain his unbeaten record. And he's expected to move up to featherweight (57.15 kg, or 126 pounds) as early as 2025.

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.


Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven