Naoya Inoue says legacy drives him, not fame and money; sees his ceiling at featherweight – Ring News 24 | Boxing News

Naoya Inoue

Undisputed super bantamweight champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue 26-0 (23) says he plans on remaining in the 122-pound division for the rest of the year before a possible move up to featherweight.

The 30-year-old Japanese phenom has forged an incredibly career that has seen him win world title in four separate weight classes, becoming undisputed champion in two of them.

As his star has continued to rise, fans and pundits have openly wondered just how far up in weight he will climb.

The ceiling right now, says Inoue, is 126-pounds.

“I’m planning on fighting three times this year,” Inoue told The Ring. “I’m sure these three fights will take place at super bantamweight. My move up to featherweight will depend on how I feel and how my body feels next year.”

He added: “Yes, most likely I will only move up to featherweight.”

Inoue says he does not want to compromise his skills by moving up in weight too quickly.

“I always want to show the best Naoya Inoue,” he said. “I wouldn’t fight at super featherweight just because the money is good. There are many fighters who have chased the money, but ended up not being able to perform well and quit. The reason I box is not for the money. There are weight divisions in boxing for a reason.”

Inoue believes he will eventually settle in nicely to the 126-pound weight class.

“I don’t need to build my body up to move up to featherweight,” he said. “I’ll move up once my body naturally grows into the heavier weight class. This has been the case throughout my professional career.”

Inoue expects to box in May, September and December with the first of those bouts expected to come against 29-year-old Mexican southpaw Luis ‘Pantera’ Nery 35-1 (27).

“My impression is that Nery is a fighter who likes to mix it up. He is resilient and has a strong will to fight,” Inoue said.

“I have confidence in myself to be able to be better than him even in the early rounds. If there is something I need to be careful about, it’s that he is good at throwing combinations from middle range and it’s like he throws punches while moving. I’ll need to pay attention to his sense of distance [and take control the distance].

Inoue added that he thinks Nery has a very unique style.

“It’s difficult to find a sparring partner like that, so image training and repeated practice will be important,” Inoue said. “And I will react and adjust in the ring during the fight. As for his body [and his ability to take a good body shot], if a punch lands at the right time, anyone can go down, it can become a weakness for anyone, not just Nery.”