By Joe Koizumi
Only once-beaten younger brother of “The Monster” Naoya, Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3 KOs) will have a shot at the OPBF bantamweight belt against IBF#4 compatriot Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13 KOs) today (Thursday) in Tokyo, Japan. For WBC#7, WBO#6 Takuma, it will be the first appearance since he failed to win the WBC belt on a unanimous decision loss to Nordine Oubaali here in November 2019.
After a long hiatus of a year and two months caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Takuma looks forward to fighting itself in public and especially aiming at the regional belt, saying, “I’m very much eager to fight. I’ll be cautious as Kurihara is such a hard-puncher.” Kurihara, three years his senior at 28, making his second defense, said, “I respect Takuma as he was once the interim world champion. I’ll cope with his strategy to be victorious.”
Our government yesterday declared a state of emergency over eleven main prefectures including Tokyo, Osaka, Aichi, Kanagawa, Fukuoka since the country’s cumulative infections cases surpassed 300,000 and the nationwide infections spreads at an accelerating pace day after day. All foreign travelers’ entries into Japan shall be completely banned until February 7. The highly anticipated encounter of Inoue and Kurihara, therefore, will be a spectacle in the midst of a storm.