Inoue halts Nery, keeps undisputed 122lb belts

Inoue Nery

By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda

Unbeaten “Monster” Naoya Inoue (27-0, 24 KOs), 121.75, impressively retained his undisputed super bantamweight belts when he survived a first round visit to the deck, knocked down Luis Nery (35-2, 27 KOs), 121, back in rounds two and five, and finally scored a bad knockdown again to cause the referee’s well-received intervention at 1:22 of the sixth round on Saturday at Tokyo Dome, Japan. It was truly a give-and-take affair that fully entertained the huge crowd and oversees streaming viewers as well. Some 43,000 spectators were in attendance at the Dome.

The Tokyo Dome had been used for boxing events just twice—for the Mike Tyson versus Tony Tubbs bout at the Dome opening ceremony in 1988 and for the historical upset of Tyson’s shocking defeat by James Buster Douglas in 1990. In thirty-four years since it was “Monster” Inoue that opened the Dome’s door for a boxing promotion, though Naoya wasn’t Madonna, Michael Jackson or Taylor Swift (who lately performed four days straight at the Dome this February).

Inoue Nery00 12

In the first round, Inoue, 31, looked too eager to demonstrate his very best performance when he began to throw a big opening shot as if he wished to finish Luis Nery, 29, with a single shot. The thick-bearded Mexican being welcomed by loud booing of the audience because of his previous overweight scandal six years ago, he stayed cautious to feel out the champ Inoue’s strategy.

Midway in round one Naoya landed a left uppercut to the chin of Nery in the close range. Pantera quickly countered with a solid southpaw left hook, surprisingly having the champ fall down sideways. It’s a shocking scene that the crowd might not expected in the opening session. But it was the challenger Nery that scored such an unexpected knockdown of Monster Inoue.

Pantera attempted to finish the champ then and there to bring home the bacon to Mexico soon. But Monster cleverly clinched and covered himself up, sometimes countering the aggressor with short punches. And the bell came to his rescue.

Naoya, after the fight, said, “I always do mental rehearsals on the bed before I fall asleep. I imagine various situations in the ring, for example, that I should take a big shot and get knocked down. Then, I imagine what I should do after I regain my foot.” He might follow such visualization training now at the crisis.

Naoya also reflected his very first visit to the deck throughout his amateur and professional career, saying, “In the first round I might be too much motivated on this first appearance at the huge Dome. It’s just a flash knockdown. No damage. The knockdown made me wake up instead.”

His manager/promoter Hideyuki Ohashi then thought, “I was greatly shocked as if I was frightened to death.”

His father/trainer then said to his son after the unexpected first round, “Don’t worry. Let’s re-establish the fight with your jabs.” Naoya followed Dad’s instructions.

Monster Naoya, in round two, cautiously threw stinging jabs to Nery so that he would not recklessly come into his range. The game Mexican, however, came forward to attack the champ, who countered with a short but solid left hook to the face. Down went Pantera. Though he resumed fighting, Monster kept his composure and didn’t so harshly attacked the challenger.

Naoya, after the fight, reflected, “I was calculating the scores. In the first I lost a 10-8 round, and I won back a 10-8 round to make it even now.” He became cool enough to be good at arithmetic.

Papa Shingo kept giving his suggestion, saying “Keep jabbing. Don’t forget.”

The tide obviously turned in favor of Monster in round three. He landed a sharp left-right combination to Pantera with precision. Nery took the solid shots but withstood the damage and was still willing to mix up with the champ.”

The fourth saw Naoya completely regain his usual rhythm and judgement of distance. He was showboating as he moved to the right, swinging a roundhouse shot from that position—to intimidate the challenger. It became a mental fight. Having his guard high, Nery blocked Naoya’s stinging lefts and patiently looked for openings for his favorite sudden attack. But it was obvious Nery was outpunched by Inoue mostly with his stinging jabs.

Having swept three rounds from the second on, Naoya turned aggressive in round five, when he connected with a countering short left hook to the face. Nery hit the deck again. The champ went for a kill, but the challenger showed his heart as he withstood his attack and fought back hard. But their difference in precision was obvious since Inoue was more accurate and his punches were more damaging than Pantera.

Papa Shingo said to his son, “Don’t rush for a finish. Just punch precisely.”

Round Six witnessed an end of the dramatic bout. Inoue went forward with accurate and effective jabs, and connected with a right uppercut followed by a vicious right. Down went Nery with his back to the ropes. Referee Michael Griffin (Canada) declared a halt without counting to the fallen challenger.

The crowd burst into roar with joy at the Dome. A sound of a great cheer echoed inside the Dome as Monster sent the crowd into a frenzy.

What Inoue displayed this night was none other than resilience. Like Archie Moore against Yvon Durelle in 1958. Also his showmanship was displayed in round four, when he, like an actor, threw very roundhouse right crosses to take an intimidating attitude. Naoya explained, “That’s to show Nery I have already taken back the initiative. To show I’m the boss. It’s a strategy.” Hanging both hands low to invite Nery to come out fighting, Inoue sometimes demonstrated his favorite showboating to the audience—like Roy Jones Jr.

Now Inoue registered eight wins in a row by knockouts in world title bouts, which shows he power punching prevailed against such highly regarded opponents as Stephen Fulton, Marlon Tapales, Paul Butler, Nonito Donaire, Jason Moloney, etc.

In the end of the TV interview in the ring, there appeared the IBF#1 and WBO#1 unbeaten Sam Goodman of Australia at a good timing, and Naoya said to the crowd on the microphone, “Most probably I’ll fight Goodman in September.” His promoter Ohashi admitted the plan either in Tokyo or in Yokohama.

The good loser Nery, who fought well, was immediately moved to a hospital by cancelling his post-fight interview. He looked to have absorbed much punishment. People here love strong boxers, so we might pardon Luis Nery for his previous mistake with this good performance (because he became the very first man to floor Monster Inoue and displayed such a good fight). The crowd truly praised his best effort against Monster.

Ohashi revealed his future plan on Monster, saying, “Naoya will fight twice this year in September and in December as well.”

The official tallies—Benoit Roussel (Canada), Jose Roberto Torres (Puerto Rico) and Adam Height (Australia)–were quite identical 48-44 all in Naoya’s favor, giving only the first to Nery (10-8) and the following four (10-8 twice) to Inoue.

The best ringside seat was 220,000 Yen (some 1,500 US dollars), while the lowest general admission was 11,000 Yen (some 73 USD). No one claimed the ticket prices were too expensive thanks to watching such an interesting see-saw affair. They had money’s worth.

In the end, this reporter would like to talk about the pound-for-pound ratings. I personally believe it is nonsense to compare boxers at different weight classes. Why can we compare Terrence Crawford, Canelo Alvarez and Inoue? All are excellent boxers at our time. Crawford is more versatile both at offense and defense, Canelo is more tight in defense and exciting in coping with taller opponents with his power and skills, and Inoue is a more killer than Crawford and Canelo, willing to finish his foe from the beginning. Naoya seems to be mentally obliged to knock out his opponent once he climbs up to the squared circle. Monster is like Mike Tyson, Wilfredo Gomez or Terrible Terry McGovern. And, Naoya is more comical than Terrence and Canelo.

Naoya also boasts of his skills in punching without taking punishment. In this regard, his next defense against Sam Goodman (18-0, 8 KOs), an excellent technician, will provide him with a contest where Monster will prove how skillful he is.

Promoter: Ohashi Promotions in association with Top Rank and Teiken Promotions.


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    • Agreed. Usyk has done great things and is deservedly in second place. Crawford’s resume is a bit overrated in my view.

      • Usyk and Crawford resume is equal with a slight edge to Crawford cause he got Spence on his resume

    • inoue is like those bantamweights of the 70’s – olivares , zarate, zamora . he is truly a special fighter .

  • I did not expect a ko by inoue I’m impressed again by the Japanese
    Very made the mistake of use just the left hand and try to ko inoue with just one punch since he dropped inoue down in the first round
    Definitely inoue is the number 1 pound x pound today and top 10 all times
    He is overwhelming boxer
    My hat off with inoue

    • I did. Nery was knocked out by the less talented Figuero and dominated thru 7 rounds a few fights back. I didn’t expect Nery to drop Inoue.

    • The odds for Inoue to win by k.o were higher than all the other pick / bets. So it’s not really a surprise.

      • USS GRAY…it is the way that the way Inoue finished Nery…not just the end result…the method in which it was accomplished….odds will not show that…

        • Yeah, I agree. I was just replying to the comment above. Inue is the goods man.

    • great fight! all respect for nery and inoue is p.f.p. #1 . Now this is real boxing .

  • Fun fight. Inoue looked as dry as a bone before bell. Nery a big guy. His left hook knockdiwn was legitimate. But Inoue is so smooth. That 6th round. Reminder of the Pacquiao v Hatton era.

  • Nery becomes the 1st fighter to knockdown the Monster, that was the last Hurray of Nery in this fight.
    3 knockdowns later and Inoue finished Luis. Inoue took control from the 2nd round onwards.

    Nery may have made a small crack in the armor of invincibility of Inoue; Now, we know Inoue is mortal.

    • It could have. But I think it was more of a flash knockdown. The way he reacted and evaded the entire onslaught from Nery afterwards showed that he wasn’t hurt. That part of the fight will be studied by everyone of his future opponents.

      • Exactly, the 1st round will be study by future opponents of Inoue, and see if that small crack from Nery can be exploited.

        I thought after the knockdown that Nery could be the first opponent to present a real challenge to Naoya, but beside the knockdown in the 1st round, I did not see Nery doing anything significantly

        • Tai…and just like others study that…Inoue as the great ones do will study it also… actually adjusted in real time during the fight …by adjusting his range….

          • Yes, it seems the knockdown woke Naoya up.
            Monster started picking apart Nery from the 2nd round.
            I would like to see the next fight for Inoue and see if his opponent uses the knockdown

        • Yep. It was more of a wake-up call for some reason
          Mercy can crack and I thought that there would be some serious exchanges, but once Inoue got going, it was just a matter of time. If you come straight forward, you’re easily figured out.

      • They will also see that will only piss Inoue off and make him punish them worse.

        • Perhaps, keep in mind as Inoue goes up in weights. Naoya can get hurt.

  • Damn! Nery got dismantled baddly! I expected a brutal KO but, damn nery’s head got blown off, almost ripped off his body! That was a massacre performance by the monster. Simply, no match! Got to give nery some credit for at least getting up from that murderous knockout, it could have been worst at the least! I don’t see any decent challenge for the monster at 122, perhaps, he should try to go up and capture the 126 tittles and finish up at that weight class.

    • Inoue is perfection at 122. At 126 he will be in against guys like Figgy and Espinoza who are around 6 foot tall and weigh close to 150 on fight night

      • I agree. I think that as of right now, 122 is the sweet spot without sacrificing anything in his arsenal. At the lower weights, 4 pounds can make a huge difference in speed and reaction time. If he can make the weight without having to weaken himself, Inoue should have everyone come to him.

  • I expected Inoue to win by KO within 6 rounds or so as the lesser Figuero dominated and knocked out Nery a few fights back. Nery was overhyped but I didn’t expect was Nery knocking down Inoue. Good win for the champion Inoue.

  • Is how I saw it playing out. Two elite pro’s going at it with Inoue just too hard-a hitter

  • That was some special stuff….could write an essay on what I just witnessed….damn …just damn that was special and Nery came to fight…. Nery had the right game plan…. to be successful….but the combination of weapons that Inoue brings is must see …something to behold…the footwork…the off the chart boxing IQ……adjusting with the discipline, patience, poise in the pocket….watch the eyes on the inside with the second knockdown….Ray Robinson , Ali like mastery of punches, range with power and speed. The best compact short puncher ever…..ever Joe Louis….watch Inoue throw a finishing hook and then turn it over …short crisp louis like….I see it….others as well….Inoue is realistically surreal …… Kudos to Nery for being professional and coming to fight….wow!!!!!

  • Great fight, Nery tested him early just liked I had hoped. Inoue was very composed after getting dropped and just took over. Inoue has it all – Power, speed, skills and distance control.

    Was hoping it would last longer and be more competitive but Inoue is a little beast!

  • Just a joy to watch Inoue fight. That guy has some of the best footwork I’ve ever seen. He can move wherever he wants in any direction and in less than a second plant his feet and throw full power and accurate. I thought Nery was a dangerous opponent (I think MJ would be as well), but they present a challenge that, potentially, brings out the best in Inoue. That was fantastic to watch and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a fighter who’s primed below featherweight who I would pick over Inoue. I think he might be the best little guy boxing’s ever had.

    • We are definitely experiencing one of the greatest to ever do it. I don’t recall seeing anyone around the 118-126 mark that has been so polished all around in a very long time. He has an answer for everything so far and lives about a second ahead of everyone. Gomez comes to mind, but Inoue definitely has greater discipline outside of the ring, which translates to his performances inside of it.

    • Lucie you nailed it with the footwork on a dime and precise power punches in flurries…watch Ray Robinson…Ali..then watch..Inoue.the mastery is incredible….great take

    • While I don’t disagree with you, it was the footwork that cost him the knock down. His wide stance and inability to get the outside step on Nery was what got him sitting on the canvas. It was a mistake that he didn’t duplicate. Brilliant performance otherwise. Inoue is truly a master at the craft, and listening to guys like Bradley trying to point out flaws was like listening to a mouse trying to describe how to beat a lion. Inoue is on a different level. He’s playing six games of chess at once while most of these guys are playing Yahtzee just hoping to get lucky.
      Like all great fighters, the most impressive part of watching him fight is watching him out think his opponent. He lays traps with traps inside of the traps.

      • It is definitely a fair point you make in regards to the knockdown, but I would also add that a part of that was Inoue throwing an uppercut (to the body), with his other hand down, which was definitely not the best idea. Still, a good point you make.

      • Holt…like that ” …traps with traps….” Sooo true…Inoue got dropped with a short gutsy punch in the inside….Nery watched tape…timed it perfectly..short crisp punch…then Inoue…made a real time adjustment as the smaller fighter used range….yes range ..distance.,set those “traps”…still trying to digest that….good stuff.

      • Good eye catching the wide stance . Very close to a “fencers” pose. When he his in his finishing mode though everything his perfect. Duran, Manny mix . Trainers in The Monster’s corner know their business.

        • Bill…you nailed it…in my research and study of this gladiator sport….behind every great fighter…there is a great trainer that leads to a lineage of other great fighters and trainers….Like Duran..once had Panama Lewis in his corner and Ray Arcel…Ray Arcel…a great trainer trained Henry Armstrong and Tony Zale. Hagler can be linked to Rocky Marciano…did you know that? Hagler trainers ..the Petronelli brothers were good friends with Rocky Marciano…notice Hagler and Marciano had the same mentality…seek and destroy…Foreman had a lineage of corner men that had greatness.,trained greatness …that can be traced back to Ray Robinson and Jack Johnson….Archie Moore was once in Foreman corner…who is the Monster trained by? excellent take Bill…

    • There is no doubt Inoe is very good. But he certainly is not the best little man in history. You must have never heard of Salvador Sanchez or Fito Lopez or Willie Pep or Sandy Sadler. I am not sure we could give him that status at this point.

      • I said who primed below featherweight, which would exclude Sanchez, Saddler and Pep and I can’t put Lopez in that conversation, as much as I may want to, given his level of opposition.

        • OMG could you imagine Zarate or Oliveras @118 vs Inoue!! Even more ridiculous would be Gomez vs Inoue @22!!!!!!!!

      • Texassniper…hard to say that Inoue is the best….(Of course don’t have the elite defensive skills like Willie Pep)…but if you study the great talents…then it is obvious…that Inoue is in a tier there along with the aforementioned fighters.. just stuff that you usually don’t see…give me one fighter that you have seen stuff like that.within the last twenty years…in one fight I saw…Inoue throw five different styles of the jab.. (most fighters can’t master one)…and go on to knock out an undefeated fight..would take a trainer like Atlas to just breakdown…what makes Inoue special….or someone with that tenured fight knowledge…..Inoue confidentiality effortlessly threw a knockout punch…just stuff you don’t usually see in the ring…

        • Well said! The guy’s entire arsenal is just ridiculous. He isn’t perfect but when you talk about what he is capable of it literally sounds like you’re talking about a fight and listing the strengths of both fighters…. but you’re just talking about one guy.

    • There is no doubt Inoue is very good. But he certainly is not the best little man in history. You must have never heard of Salvador Sanchez or Fito Lopez or Willie Pep or Sandy Sadler. I am not sure we could give him that status at this point.

      • My own opinion at this level, I think Inoue has surpassed Finito Lopez and the deceased Salvador Sanchez.

        • Tai… understand but I can’t really say that he surpassed them but what I can say is I recognize special stuff…stuff you don’t see and if you know boxing ..not easily duplicated in realtime like the punch that Ray Robinson knocked out Fullmer with…just so quick …timed so great …that you can watch thousands of fights …and will not see a punch…a knockout punch…like that …and when you do…and see something special…like watching Ali flurry effortlessly in real time …knocking a guy out cold….talent and to do it against high level competition…

          • Sean,
            Your post is not related to what I posted.

            I commented to someone saying that Inoue isn’t at the level of Lopez or Sal Sanchez. My reply started it is my opinion, since boxing is an appreciation sport, and I am no box official nor represent any commission. I believe is the opposite in regards to Inoue vs Lopez and Sal Sanchez.

            I never mentioned all greats, or Sugar ARay Robinson, or Ali; I dont follow or see the connection of your reply to my post.

            Again, Inoue has surpassed Finito Lopez and Sal Sanchez in my opinion, World champions in 4th different weight categories, undisputed/unified world champion (4 belts era) at two different weight classes, number of defenses, x number of champions defeated, and he is not even done yet.

            I omitted how he destroyed Narvaez, Nonito 2, Fulton, Nery, Fulton, Tapales, E. Rodriguez, Payano, and Moloney…to name a few

          • Man, Mr. Not going do it. You have got to be a liberal weakling with a return post like that. Wow.

          • Tai… understand your position…yet I believe that you responded to the original post in regards to the ‘best little man in boxing history”….and I believe that your response is based on accomplishments…could be wrong…It is of my humble opinion that there are many attributes outside of accomplishments that are included when you say “best in boxing history” I was speaking of the uniqueness of Inoues talent along with his accomplishments is just something…I have not seen and as you pointed out Lopez and Sanchez are retired…and Inoue career is still ongoing….as an overall boxing talent in little man history can’t say now certain things.. until career complete…but I can say that I have not seen fighters perform like him..Bronner. for example… has accomplished a lot in the surpassing others but while I admire AB skill…I am not wowed by the overall talent of AB….Inoue has skill that even other fighters .. trainers are amazed…

          • Sean,.

            Once again, I reply to Texassniper, who posted that Lopez and Sanchez are better than Inoue.

            I found it strange that you needed another post to clarify this.

  • That was nasty. The knockdown in the first round only seemed to have woken Inoue up. Nery showed all of his cards trying to finish him and Inoue showed his IQ by formulating a counter plan the rest of the round. From the second forward, Inoue steadily took control with great angles and counters. By the middle of the 4th round, Inoue could have finished the fight at any point. Great win and a great way to start the world week.

    As most here, I thought it would be stopped in the later middle rounds, but I found myself rooting for Nery to at least finish on his feet.

    Tim Bradley has a massive mindgasm when Nery scored the knockdown, but was slowly gutted as the fight progressed. Lol! By the end, you can hear the pain in his voice. Don’t make it so obvious Tim.

    • Actually Peter..,Tim did give Inoue his props…just listen to the commentary…. actually Tim had a unique perspective of praise given to Inoue talent….Listen to Tim acknowledge Inoue on that ESPN show that talks about the State of the Game…. Not defending anyone but give deserved criticism….here Tim acknowledged Greatness….not that Inoue needs any type of acknowledgement…. performance in the ring speaks for itself…..liked the Humbleness of Inoue …in the after fight interview…his proposed next opponent tried to trash talk…Inoue responded but did not even look in his direction….calmly…chilling….

  • Will say though that ring is oversized
    ….for the movement styled fighter….better be in shape to fight in Japan…

    • agree to disagree

      Nery was weakened and vulnerable by the onslaught of the monster.

      3 knockdowns, Nery was ready to go

  • So impressed with Inoue. He epitomizes what the sport of boxing is all about and what a true champion is.

    Credit to Nery for his effort. Difficult to put Inoue down, so I applaud him for that. I had never heard of him before.

  • I didn’t expect anything less from Inoue. He’s not called “Monster” for now reason. I am surprised Nery put him down. In no particular order, you gotta put this man in top 3 p4p.

  • Inoue is excellent against southpaws…excellent against everyone really. Don’t push him to 126. I think he has success, but he is a really small guy. Don’t see him going up much more in weight.

  • Wow. A tremendous fight. The first-round left hook from Nery was a blockbuster. Inoue is something special.

  • Nery gave it his best try, but Inoue es MUY MUY ESPECIAL!!

    Next, maybe an Inoue/Goodman scrap. Inoue may eventually try 126.

    Meanwhile, Inoue will continue as THE KING OF ALL JUNGLES.

  • Monster just keeps on impressing, and against elite competition. Nery is a former two-division world champion and was the best contender at 122, imo. Time to move up to 126. Inoue has overtaken Crawford as best p4p, in my view, given his activity and continued conquests.

  • My goodness this man is simply amazing!! Not only is he as dominant as it gets, he also deals with adversity in an amazing manner!! The first fight with Donaire and now with the knockdown versus Nery is P4P stuff!! This is what it must’ve been like watching the great Sugar Ray Robinson back in the day.

  • inoue has fought nobody he needs to steup up to 126 pounds and his scared to fight John Riel Casimero

  • Exciting fight, the knockdown against him I think was more to the fact that he got caught on a pivot rolling over his own hook and was mostly surprised. This guy is truly a monster and a class act. I’m a fan.

  • No, he was hurt, hard not to be, chin was in the air and hands were down; he stumbled slightly when he was getting to a knee. No shame, still a dominant performance nonetheless.

  • Yes, I do believe he was hurt a bit. He actually went to the ropes after getting up and held on. Watched this fight 30000 feet in the air. Complete domination thereafter.

  • The way Inoue got up from that 1st round knock down by Nery, I knew Inoue would figure Nery out in a few rounds. I did not expect an early kayo by him! What a fighter! Inoue is the king of the fighters now. Nery is no pushover, Inoue name should be Senor Monstruo!

  • Putting this dude with the likes of Salvador Sanchez is like saying Ali was the greatest bum in history. Don’t enbarass yourself saying that unless you want attention, youngster.

    • Would have to disagree with that-saw many Sanchez fights and would put him in the same class.

  • The “fruit juice” Japanese boxers are drinking, is a relly good one.

    • Tai…wish sometimes they would post songs used in fights…cause I look for that stuff also…on a funny note…I remember an entrance recently on DAZN where the song…kept saying “I was born in Belfast”. something of that was on fire…then the fighter took an old fashioned ass whooping…made Belfast look bad

      • Sean,

        That was f%%^&_/=g hilarious, the ring entrance song didn’t help the fighter.

        I have been trying to find Nery’s ring entrance song

  • Nery’s tactic at the first bell was obvious. Counter power left hands. I’m wondering why Naoya got hit with that punch which was obviously coming. Maybe, even if someone can tolerate the power of an opponent’s punches, the first one that lands can still be jolting.

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