Playing the Role of Matchmaker 💭 (Creating a Path for Naoya Inoue & Top-Rank Towards His Legacy)

By Tré Berry III🖊️ | 11/26/2019

As it stands right now, 👑🇯🇵Naoya Inoue (19-0-0, 16KO👊👊) is in possession of the 🏆Muhammad Ali Trophy, the Bantamweight RING-MAGAZINE Title, as well as the WBA & IBF World Titles after winning the World Boxing Super-Series (WBSS) a couple of weeks back. For now, he is resting up and nursing injuries after his riveting Finals performance against boxing legend ♛🇵🇭Nonito Donaire who provided a stern challenge for the phenomenal Japanese boxer, one that Inoue answered many questions in.


Inoue en route to victory suffered a broken nose, and a couple of fractures to his right orbital bone, as well as a deep laceration over the eye which will force him to take some time off. Fortunately for all parties involved, 🗣️Mr. Akihiro Honda has indicated to Bob Arum that he received word from Inoue’s Doctors that there isn’t any nerve damage, or anything extensive or lingering for the Inoue contingent to worry about, and also doesn’t have to go under the 🔪knife for his orbital injury, ensuring that he can continue forth towards his planning without worry.  Top-Rank initially would like for him to make his debut for them in March or April of 2020, and it does seem likely he can make that deadline, but of course they have to take things one day at a time to make sure he is healed up properly, and isn’t rushed back into the action.

Now looking at a suitable path for Inoue towards getting the 📈optimal gain for his cause in a quickly budding career at the young age of 26, many different factors have to be thought out and ⚖️weighed upon. For one, we must take a look into which boxers are signed to what promotional company, and zero’ing on leadership of these companies, identifying the Promoters who are willing to work with the other Promoters involved and those who are in power with ties to other elite, high ranking boxers. It is also imperative to take note on which Promoters get along to get a clear scope towards those open to doing business together and making the fights that the public contingent demands, and in supplying the contests that boxing needs in order to maintain its respectability in aiding both its integrity and growth.

While the fights themselves in these last couple of years have been great, and with all but a handful of boxers willing to step up and fight each other void of playing games, some fights that have been on 📡radar have not properly come to fruition, and most of those boxers have expressed genuine outward interest towards having those fights happen for their sake. In many of these cases, the boxers themselves aren’t to blame, so you have to dig deeper to look at the real problem that has been holding up some of these potential match-ups – 🎯 the Promoters themselves. In current time, Promoters are hard-pressed in their 🎥🎬Game of Thrones-like stances and stonewalling each other from the comfort of their own personal vacuums, in a time where boxing at the administrative end signifies that of partisan divide and conflict, resulting in the closing of business channels for personal gain, protection of their assets and holding vindictive stances due to personal feelings getting in the way of business, thus creating a promotional 🔒gridlock for boxers who are eagerly waiting for the opportunity to fight the best fighters out there with what is supposed to be cleared roads ahead.

Fortunately for Inoue’s plight, his new Promoter Bob Arum has a large hand in the pot when it comes to having multiple fighters at 118 and 122 signed, and because he has a very functional, and cordial relationship with Eddie Hearn, albeit a competitive one with the English promoter. Why do I bring up Eddie Hearn in this scenario? 🤔🤨 well…because his stable also holds some very key pieces at those weights as well when you look at mid-level, to elite competition that Inoue would have to walk through in order to get to the plateau he is seeking. Bob Arum and Eddie Hearn work remarkably well together, with easily attained results, and have been working together frequently lately. With those channels open, it made perfect sense for Naoya Inoue to sign on to Bob’s banner, with an understanding that the fights he wants to get, are very accessible towards getting the paperwork eventually done en route to getting the big opportunities that he craves for his career going forward. Here I will take an extensive look at who is signed with who, and try to make out a reasonable map for Inoue to try to follow that will get him the notoriety he covets, maximized revenue, the action fights that the fans crave to see, and a broad picture towards obtaining more World Titles as a driving stake towards his overall legacy. Here is what I would personally advise Inoue, his people and Bob Arum to do…

🚨🚨JUST TO SPECIFY BEFORE I BEGIN – I am aware that there are no perfect lengthy plans due to human nature and some situations changing in live time whether it be from the fighter in question, or the other fighters specified, but assuming that much of the landscape stays the same, here is what I would map out for Naoya Inoue to ensure that he gets what he wants.


0️⃣1️⃣ #1 Bantamweight IBF mandatory challenger 
🇵🇭Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20KO👊)
(MANDATORY) Accessibility = Easy


“This would be a perfect inaugural introduction for Inoue at Top-Rank and reintroducing himself for a second time to an American audience. Dasmarinas is the #1 IBF mandatory challenger, so Inoue could use this as a perfect opportunity to pick someone who fights at the mid-level, and also in taking care of his Championship obligations and in showing his dominance to open up to fans.”
0️⃣2️⃣ WBC Bantamweight World Champion
🇫🇷Nordine Oubaali (17-0-0, 12KO👊)
(MTK GLOBAL) Accessibility = Easy


“Assessing the way in which the night panned out for the Inoue’s, with Naoya winning the Muhammad Ali trophy, and little brother 🇯🇵Takuma Inoue losing his first fight to WBC Champion Nordine Oubaali, there is an inherent feeling to seek out for revenge for his brother to venture out and defeat Oubaali, while also going for another World Title belt and getting one step closer towards becoming a Bantamweight Undisputed World Champion”
0️⃣3️⃣ WBO Bantamweight World Champion
🇿🇦Zolani “Last Born” Tete (28-3-0, 21KO👊)


“When the World Boxing Super Series formed with many of the Bantamweights best partaking in the Tournament setting, the initial feeling by most was that the finals would ultimately come down to Inoue & Tete fighting in a box-off as the 2 best Bantamweights in the world. Unfortunately for Tete, he suffered an injury prior to his fight with 🇵🇭Nonito Donaire, so he had to pull out of the tournament. Fortunate from that was Donaire continuing his resurrection act as a newly rejuvenated fighter hell-bent on trying to win the tournament, and he got to the final round to fight Inoue in a strong FOTY candidate. Perhaps if everything checks out here, it makes a possible match-up between Inoue & Tete that much more intriguing, because all the belts would be on the line for a potential 👑Undisputed Champion to be crowned

0️⃣4️⃣ WBA Bantamweight Obligations
🇻🇪Liborio Solis (30-5-1, 14KO👊)
(TGB PROMOTIONS) Accessibility = Somewhat easy


“This would be a solid second-tier opponent after fighting 2 elite fighters in 🇫🇷Nordine Oubaali & 🇿🇦Zolani Tete.  Consider that second-tier isn’t a slight in any way to Solis, in fact he has been good to the point that he knocked former Bantamweight King 🇯🇵Shinsuke Yamanaka down in their contest, and has a very debatable loss to 🇬🇧Jamie McDonnell that could’ve went either way, and McDonnell prior to running into Inoue was an upper echelon Bantamweight- someone interesting (Solis) to throw into the ring to keep Inoue busy.”

0️⃣5️⃣  Two Champions of the World Meet at Bantamweight
♛🇲🇽Juan Francisco Estrada (40-3-0, 27KO👊)
(MATCHROOM BOXING) Accessibility = Easy


“Can you think of any bigger fight in boxing to be if this fight were to surface and be made in the Bantamweight division? Even if you find a couple others on this level, there are inherent question marks surrounding the event, whereas this one would be clear cut for greatness to take place.  Both are esteemed P4P talents, and both are true World Champions in their own divisions, with both in possession of the RING-MAGAZINE Titles at 115 & 118 lbs.  As for Estrada, a few fights back, he jumped up to the Super-Bantamweight division (122 lbs) and fought 🇲🇽Victor Mendez, and what that fight proved was that weight was not an issue for Estrada, and didn’t slow him down, alter his reflexes or sap his stamina, which is a positive indication that even if it’s a one-off proposition, he could effectively take his talents up to Bantamweight uncompromised, and that way we could see an optimal version of Estrada squaring off against a peak-form Naoya Inoue towards reaching the pinnacle of the sport for the winner.”

0️⃣6️⃣ Super-Bantamweight Debut for Naoya Inoue
🇬🇧Gavin McDonnell (22-2-2, 6KO👊)
(MATCHROOM BOXING) Accessibility = Easy


“This would serve well as a first fight at a new weight, that being the Super-Bantamweight division. Gavin McDonnell is a mid-level boxer, and he is the twin brother of 🇬🇧Jamie McDonnell. With Inoue getting his footing at 122 lbs, it is naturally built in for the other side to create narrative for Gavin trying to get revenge for HIS brother after he was blasted out by Inoue inside 2 minutes of action”

0️⃣7️⃣ IBF Super-Flyweight World Champion
🇵🇭Jerwin “Pretty Boy” Ancajas (31-1-2, 21KO👊)
(TOP-RANK BOXING) Accessibility = Very Easy


“This one is relatively easy to make being that he is with Top-Rank promotions, and has been thrown on many events as a headliner.  In what is a loaded Super-Flyweight division of historic proportions currently, Ancajas stands out as one of the best of the crop (current IBF Champion), and has been itching towards getting a major fight at some juncture.  Considering that he is a bit stocky for the 115 lb. division, and him previously stating that he has been having a little trouble making weight, I say we could easily see him move up to Bantamweight very soon, where he would be right in the wheelhouse of “The Monster”. You don’t get any bigger fights than that if you are campaigning in the lower weight divisions, and with Ancajas excellent overall fighting ability, one hell of a fight would come to fruition if there paths were to cross.”

0️⃣8️⃣ Big Fight at Super-Bantamweight Division
🇲🇽Luis “Pantera” Nery (31-0-0, 24KO👊)
(PREMIER BOXING CHAMPIONS) Accessibility = Difficult


“This would be a perfect time for Inoue to circle back around to a fight that moves the needle of the hardcore boxing public as a major fight to look forward to. The reason why I have it mapped out as such with them meeting at 122 lbs is because Nery runs a bit heavy. He has had problems making weight, recalling back to him showing up 5 lbs overweight for his rematch against 🇯🇵Shinsuke Yamanaka, and I believe it will only get tougher from this point on. Even if there are no belts on the line, we pay to see the best in neighboring weights fight and put their reputations on the line regardless of the hardware, and the winner here would put themselves in great standing going forward in the Super-Bantamweight division.”
0️⃣9️⃣  Super-Bantamweight World contender
🇬🇭Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe (20-2-0, 14KO👊)
(TOP-RANK BOXING) Accessibility = Very Easy


“Isaac Dogboe has only lost to one fighter in his professional career, that being to 🇲🇽Emanuel Navarrete twice, but the manner in which he lost both times knocked his stock, and his standing back many notches due to taking two brutal beatings that may have taken some starch out of the proud Ghanaian fighter. Nonetheless, Dogboe still brings intrigue, flair, and viewers to his fights, and even better if they can get him a mid-level opponent to showcase what Dogboe can still do, they can roll the dice on him and put him out there as a sacrificial lamb (from a market standpoint of course, nothing heinous) for Inoue to gain some extra followers from a completely different region and demographic – also having the opportunity to add another former Champion to the resume portion of his portfolio.”
1️⃣0️⃣ WBO Super-Bantamweight World Champion
🇲🇽Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete (29-1-0, 25KO👊)
(TOP-RANK BOXING) Accessibility = Very Easy


“Since 🇬🇭Isaac Dogboe and Emanuel Navarrete’s stories are forever tied together now, and with Inoue fighting Dogboe on this projected path, it would only make sense for Inoue to look for this big fight against Navarrete to put himself in pursuit of being a legitimate 4-division World Titlist. Navarrete is forcing himself to becoming a household name by fighting often under Top Rank’s banner, and is getting the reputation of being an exciting hard hitting action fighter, and considering the time it would take to get here, Navarrete’s intrigue to the fans will only grow. It would be a dream scenario for Bob Arum & those at Top-Rank to heavily market two exciting, hard hitting fighters as 2 forces colliding, with the fight all but promising a knockout for whomever would emerge victorious from this esteemed potential contest.”
1️⃣1️⃣ Super-Bantamweight World contender
🇯🇵Tomoki “El Mexicanito” Kameda (36-3-0, 20KO👊)
(PREMIER BOXING CHAMPIONS) Accessibility = Marginal


“This would be a great opportunity for Inoue to come back home and fight what would be an all-Japanese affair, and fighting Tomoki Kameda in front of a Japanese crowd. Kameda has been Championship level, however fell short in the 3 opportunities where he could have graduated toward becoming an elite status boxer. For him, this would be his greatest opportunity towards getting to that plateau that has eluded him. For Inoue, considering how great as he has been, his entertainment value equals his skill level, so to fight another fight against an entertaining warrior such as Kameda would make for another fan friendly, high octane fight for however long it lasts, and would be a good gift to give to their homeland.”
1️⃣2️⃣ Unified WBA/IBF Super-Bantamweight World Champion
🇺🇸Danny “Baby Faced Assassin” Roman (27-2-0, 10KO👊)
(MATCHROOM BOXING) Accessibility = Easy


“There is a growing feeling that Unified Champion Danny Roman is the best out of all the crop of natural 122 lb boxers, so this would be thee big fight for Inoue to target, granted if Roman maintains his positioning by the time that his would end up coming about. If everything checks out for both boxers, it would be for the WBA/WBO/IBF World Titles, and would certainly be billed towards being for the vacant RING-MAGAZINE Title, so this one would ultimately be for all of the marbles. For our sake, and for boxing’s sake, let us hope that we get to that point to see it process and come to fruition.”
1️⃣3️⃣ WBC Super-Bantamweight World Champion
🇲🇽Rey Vargas (31-0-0, 22KO👊)
(TOP-RANK BOXING) Accessibility = Very Easy


“If Naoya Inoue can put himself into this position, this would set the grand stage for a major opportunity towards becoming an 👑Undisputed Champion at Super-Bantamweight, with Vargas presumably holding his belt. Vargas, while having a couple of flaws, is a dangerous, rangy boxer, and is also signed under Top Ranks banner, so this one would be rather easy to make. The winner here gets all the glory, and if that were to be Inoue, then that would truly catapult him to a different stratosphere with the greatest boxers of all time, and that is the goal that Inoue is trying to shoot towards.”
1️⃣4️⃣ A Farewell Fight, Box at Bantamweight to End Career


“A chance to say goodbye after fighting the best of the best, Inoue if he chooses could fight a farewell fight at 122, or 118, to his liking, against a mid-level solid prizefighter to give his fans a proper send off. Granted if everything were to go according to plan for Inoue (let’s assume this path is the one in play).”

🔓WHAT IT IS THAT INOUE CAN ULTIMATELY GAIN – Everything in its proper context, it would be the perfect exit from the sport of boxing, and it could be a 5 year plan that could see Inoue’s time in the sport close at the age of 31 or 32, with him getting out at the top of his game. For whatever the reason is, smaller fighters tend to have a shorter shelf life at the top, and fighting at their optimal best, so it wouldn’t make sense for Inoue to linger any longer than he should, especially if lets say he were to either run the entire table on a very impressive bracket of fighters similar to the layout I put together. Even if he were to lose a couple along the way (he’s very capable of winning all these fights) having success in most of the match-ups that would still bode heavily well toward his legacy standing. Because of what was stated earlier, these match-ups are relatively easy to make due to shared promotional backing of some of these fighters, and other fighters of interest being signed to other Promoters who are willing to do business with Bob Arum and the people at Top-Rank.
THE BEST CASE SCENARIO ⚔️ Currently Inoue has won 5 World Title Belts in 3 divisions, and has already won 13 World Title fights in just 19 outings as a Professional boxer.  He has also defeated 8 fighters whom have been in possession of a major Title thus far.  The greatest outcome that could stem from this overall 🖼️picture mapped out here is….Inoue running the table of this impressive crop, and if he did, then he would retire with 33 fights on the ledger, all resulting in wins, and he could become a 2-division 👑Undisputed Champion, winning 12 World Title Belts, and having won 27 Title matches overall. He would also be a 4-division World Champion, and he would have cleared at least 19 World Champions en route to putting together and rubber-stamping a golden legacy.

If I were a match-maker, or an adviser, this is a path I would strongly recommend for Inoue to take, as he has lofty aspirations of becoming the greatest boxer, and putting together a strong resume like that will be instrumental in his cause – also to factor in HOW he delivers in those match-ups, which is equally as important as the names listed in writing, something that doesn’t get nearly enough attention and consideration in assessing a boxers standing and plight. It maps out a strong legacy path for Inoue to pursue, and it also maximizes the revenue aspect of it by getting him these fights, and these are also the type of fights that will inevitably increase his fanbase as more and more people are becoming intrigued in studying the man they are getting to know of –  that is properly dubbed as 🐉THE MONSTER”.

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