Naoya Inoue established himself as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world after beating Stephen Fulton last weekend. His dominant performance saw him mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
It comes as no surprise considering the Japanese boxer’s sensational form during their bout. He brutally knocked out Fulton in the eighth round to collect the WBO and WBC super-bantweight belts and become a four-weight world champion.
Despite coming up in weight and being the smaller man, it was Inoue who appeared to be the stronger fighter. And, in the immediate aftermath, Inoue called out WBA (super) and IBF super-bantamweight world champion Marlon Tapales to a four-belt shoot out at the back end of the year.
His victory over Fulton saw him being compared to another sensational Asian fighter in Pacquiao, who reached out on social media after the bout to congratulate the 30-year-old.
Pacquiao took to Twitter – which has since been rebranded as a messaging platform called X – to say: ‘Inoue has great speed and lots of power behind his punches. He’s a special fighter!’.
Naoya Inoue, 30, is the new WBC and WBO super-bantamweight world champion
Inoue stopped Stephen Fulton in the eighth round at Ariake Arena Tokyo in Japan (above)
While others such as former super featherweight champion Jamel Herring wrote: ‘Inoue is running through weight classes like a prime Manny Pacquiao managed.’
So how does Inoue compare Pacquiao? Well, firstly, both fighters struggled with English growing up. Pacquiao managed to learn the English language later in his career but Inoue has decided to stick with Japanese.
Both fighters embody similar characteristics when it comes to pre-fight press conferences and media events. Inoue isn’t one to cause a scene or scream in someone’s face. He has always expressed himself inside the ring – much like Pacquiao.
But how do they compare on the canvas? Well, Pacquiao – who retired two years ago – remains as the only boxer to win world titles in eight divisions. He won his first title at flyweight and his last a light middleweight.
In total, Pacquiao fought 72 times with 62 wins, 8 losses, and 2 draws. Some of Pacquiao’s best fights and notable victories include wins over seven Hall-of-Famers Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel MArquez, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Erik Morales.
Being compared to Pacquiao is one hell of a compliment, but it places a lot of pressure on a boxer’s shoulders. Nevertheless, Todd duBoef – the president of Top Rank – believes Inoue is worthy of the comparisons.
He brutally knocked out Fulton in the eighth round to collect the WBO and WBC super-bantweight belts and become a four-weight world champion
DuBoef told Sky Sports: ‘He [Inoue] makes me speechless when I watch him. I’ve been in the business since 1993 but when you see speed, power in both hands, boxing IQ the way he has? He is just gripping.’
DuBoef went on to add: ‘He [Inoue] is as exciting a fighter as anyone who has come out of Asia. He is the most exciting thing since Manny Pacquiao in the United States.’
Pacquiao was 168 cm tall (5′ 6.14″) with a reach of 170 cm (5′ 6.93″). He fought out of the southpaw stance. He also knocked out 39 of his 72 opponents – giving him a KO percentage of 54.2.
Additionally, 23 of knockouts came in the early rounds. While 11 came in the mid rounds, and five in the later rounds. He also secured six first-round KO wins during his career.
Meanwhile, Inoue – who is 10 years and nine months into his professional boxing career – is 165 cm tall (5′ 4.96″) with a reach of 171 cm (5′ 7.32″). He also fights out of an orthodox stance.
Inoue has earned himself a 88 per cent KO rate. He has won 22 of his 25 bouts by way of knockout. 11 of those in the early rounds, seven in the mid rounds and four in the later rounds. He has three first-round KO wins.
Some of Inoue’s best performances came against Nonito Donaire, Omar Narvaez, Jamie McDonnell, Emmanuel Rodriguez, Juan Carlos Payano, Adrián Hernandez, and Fulton Jr.
As it stands, Inoue is a four-weight-division world champion. He has held 10 world titles, one of which was a vacant title win, and the rest nine were lineal championship wins.
His victory over Fulton saw him being compared to another sensational Asian fighter in Pacquiao, who reached out on social media after the bout to congratulate the 30-year-old
Pacquiao fought 72 times with 62 wins, 8 losses, and 2 draws. Some of Pacquiao’s best fights and notable victories include wins over seven Hall-of-Famers like Oscar De La Hoya (above)
While Pacquiao was an eight-weight-division world champion. He held 13 world titles, two of which were vacant title wins, and the rest 11 were lineal championship wins.
However, their career progression has been similar. The both had their first title fight at a similar age but Pacquiao had completed 19 more professional bouts given he made his debut at 16 compared to 19.
Pacquiao had his first world title fight at the age of 19 on December 4, 1998 after 24 professional fights and faced Chatchai Sasakul for the flyweight WBC title.
While Inoue had his first world title fight at the age of 20 on April 6, 2014 after 5 professional fights. Inoue’s bout was against Adrian Hernandez for the light-flyweight WBC title.
Both Pacquiao and Inoue emerged victorious from their fights. Pacquiao beat Sasakul via 8th round KO to become the flyweight champion of the world. While Inoue saw off Hernandez via 6th round TKO to become the light-flyweight champion of the world.
However, the distinct difference between the pair is the fact that Inoue has never lost a fight in his professional boxing career so far. Granted, he’s only fought 25 times compared to Pacquiao’s 72 bouts… but it’s still impressive.
Plus, some of Pacquiao’s former opponents have hailed Inoue as ‘extraordinary’. Tim Bradley – who fought Pacquiao three times – said: ‘I haven’t seen that speed and power since the first time I fought Pacquiao, when punches flew past me I could literally hear them.’
Inoue has also been compared to Mayweather – who is one of the most well-known boxers on the planet. His professional boxing career spanned more than 20 years
Bradley went on to add: ‘Inoue is more technical than Pacquiao, more precise, more accurate. Inoue throws the right amount of punches at the right time which is extraordinary.’
Meanwhile, Jamie McDonnell – who went to Japan in May 2018 to fight Inoue and lost via TKO in the first round – said: ‘I’ll say now that his power is as real as it gets. It’s like a big thud and it didn’t even look like he was loading up when he caught me.’
Before McDonnell’s trainer Dave Coldwell told Sky Sports: ‘At the weigh-in you look at him and think: ‘He is very small – how does this man possess so much power? He doesn’t look like a beast. But then on fight night? He has such ability to transfer his weight through his punches. He is fantastic.’
Inoue has also been compared to Mayweather – who is one of the most well-known boxers on the planet. His professional boxing career spanned more than 20 years — from 1996 to 2017.
During that time he become a five-weight-division world champion and held 15 world titles, two of which were vacant title wins and the rest 13 were lineal championship wins.
The comparisons between Inoue and Mayweather are interesting, but the real topic of conversation is how does Japanese boxer compare to Terence Crawford
Crawford beat Errol Spence to become the best pound-for-pound fighter of his generation
‘Bud’ Crawford’s dominant display proved his place at the very top of the boxing world
The comparisons between Inoue and Mayweather are interesting, but the real topic of conversation is how does Japanese boxer compare to Terence Crawford after the 35-year-old beat Errol Spence to become the best pound-for-pound fighter of his generation.
Crawford became the first man of the four-belt era to become an undisputed world champion in two weight divisions by destroying his arch-rival Spence. The one-sided bout in Las Vegas proved Crawford is above Inoue.
Crawford dismantled Spence over nine one-sided rounds in Las Vegas, flooring the Texas fighter three times before the referee stepped in. I believe Crawford won every round except the first.
Now, there is no denying the fact that Inoue is up there in the pound-for-pound conversation. But, he’s not quite on the level of Crawford and I can’t see that changing any time soon.