Naoya Inoue has been cleaning out divison after division. And now, he has some boxing fans wondering if he can go for eight.
With the one-sided beatdown that Naoya Inoue has just bestowed upon previously undefeated champion Stephen Fulton, the Japanese monster joins a rather elite club of professional fighters by becoming boxing’s newest four-weight world champion.
With the way he has been cleaning out divisions with relative ease (with the exception of his first fight with Nonito Donaire back in 2019), the Japanese monster has captured the imagination of the boxing world as to what his ceiling could possibly be.
So much so that some are now saying that when all is said and done, he might be able to catch Manny Pacquiao’s greatest accomplishment atop the ring.
When it comes to records in terms of being a champion in multiple weight divisions go, one name reigns supreme and that is none other than Manny Pacquiao. The only eight-weight world champion in the history of the sport has been unrivaled when it comes to this particular accomplishment. In second place is Oscar Dela Hoya with six.
Renowned boxing analyst and expert Max Kellerman, and former trainer of the year Robert Garcia are just two of many who say that this record will not be broken in our lifetime, maybe ever.
So as great as Naoya Inoue is, here are three reasons why it’s unlikely that he topples the record of becoming an eight-division champion.
Inoue, just turned 30 last April. At this stage in his career, it is likely that he’ll be looking to go up the weight classes as it becomes increasingly difficult for him to maintain a lower weight class.
Here’s a big difference though. At 31, Pacquiao had already won his 8th weight division championship against Antonio Margarito back in November 2010.
And while no two fighter’s careers are ever the same, and Inoue is still very much at the peak of his career, imagining him winning championships in 4 more weight classes in his 30s is a stretch, to say the least.
What do you mean by size? Manny is just a half-inch taller than him! (I know. You’re right. And kudos to you for knowing your boxing!)
But to explain myself, this actually ties back to the first reason of age. At 31, Pacquiao fought at his heaviest weight class. Truth be told, he didn’t really put on weight anymore as he weighed in at 147 lbs for a fight with a 154 lbs limit. This means that as far as growing into one’s body goes, at least for Manny, he has reached its ‘maximum optimal’ level.
Circling back to Inoue, while no two fighters’ careers are ever the same, and he is still very much at the peak of his career, can you honestly say that you see him bulking up all the way to 140 lbs at his age? And not just bulking up, but beating belt-holders along the way?
3. Fighting mostly in Japan
While Fulton was more than willing to make the trip to Japan and fight the hometown hero, not everyone would be the same, most especially champions.
But first things first, why is it that Inoue fights mostly in Japan? The short answer is that it makes economic sense to do so.
“The difference (with Pacquiao) is that Inoue fights out of Japan,” Top Rank Chief Bob Arum shared in an interview back in 2021. “The Japanese economy is very robust, unlike the Filipino economy. So Inoue will do a lot of his fights in Japan because he is such a massive star there.”
Factor in all the hoops that you have to jump through once you have to make a fight happen with different promoters, then it starts to get tricky, especially at the level that they are at.
So to close, let me be perfectly clear that this is not a knock on Inoue as a fighter at all! In fact, as a fan, just the mere fact that there is a discussion around the possibility of getting close to the sport’s most impressive record is very exciting!
Let’s see if the monster can earn his fifth and sixth weight class championships first. Then this discussion will hold more water!
Banner image from Naoya Inoue on Instagram.