Naoya ‘’Monster’’ Inoue’s younger brother Takuma Inoue, a former World Boxing Council bantamweight interim champion, will head this year’s Japanese boxing on Jan. 14 at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall as he will challenge Keita Kurihara of Ichiriki Boxing Gym for the latter’s Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation bantamweight title.
The 25-year-old Inoue of Ohashi Boxing Gym, who won the interim title in 2018 by decisioning Tasana Salpat of Thailand, lost to WBC champion Nordine Oubaali of France in a lopsided fashion in November 2019 in a title unification match.
With the aid of ‘’The Monster,’’ Inoue has been engaged in a hard training since late last November, which has become a big support for Inoue on every front. Inoue has a record of 13 wins, including three knockouts, against a loss.
For his part, the 27-year-old Kurihara, who is making his third defense of the title he won in December 2018 by beating Yuki ‘’Strong’’ Kobayashi of Muto Boxing Gym, has kept saying he will fight as if he were a challenger.
But since Kurihara, who has a 15-5 win-loss record with 13 KOs, is ranked fourth by the International Boxing Federation, if he can beat Inoue, ranked seventh both by the WBC and World Boxing Organization, that would boost the chance of him taking a crack at a world title.
While boxing experts in general think Inoue is slightly advantageous, they also think Kurihara’s big punch is nothing to sneeze at.