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Beast Performance: Naoya Inoue Drops to the Mat to Eliminate Luis Nery in the Sixth Round

Updated on 05/06/2024

Written by: Sean Crose

He ended up winning, but Naoya Inoue found himself in a place few expected on Monday in Tokyo, Japan – on the mat. A superb left hook shot by Luis Nery dropped undisputed super bantamweight champion Inoue in the first round. Suffice it to say that it was the first time that 26-0 Inoue had been knocked off his feet. Although he got up to score, Inoue had to defend 35-1 Nery as the opposing player went for the kill. Nery managed to survive the round, but the point had been made clear – Inoue, when faced with the right opponent, can be really vulnerable.

Not that Inoue didn't get up there after tasting the canvas. Because, even though Nery won first, the fight belonged to Inoue from the second round onwards. Nery himself tasted the mat in the second, then Inoue threw a gutsy front row again for the fifth. Then came the sixth. Nery was already beaten when Inoue taunted his man. In the end, it was a Dempseyesque combination from Inoue that sent Nery to the mat for good. His head swaying under the ropes as if attached to his body only by a rope, brave Nery was the picture of defeat.

At 31 years old, Inoue's career is worth looking at as a whole, because he is undoubtedly one of the greatest of this generation of fighters. Many, if not most, commentators feel that Inoue or Terence Crawford is the most active fighter in the world today. Although this writer gives the slight edge to Crawford, there's no denying that Inoue is up there with the best Nebraskans. First of all, all but three of Inoue's 27 wins have come by distance.

If that's not enough, the fighter known (understandably) as “The Monster” has won world titles in four different weight divisions – and has been the undisputed champion in two of those four divisions. Only Crawford can claim to have done such a feat. Inoue is more than just impressive on paper, however. Watching a man in action is like watching a human cannon finish its goals. His punches are as powerful as they are accurate. We live in hyperbolic times, but for now, it's not ridiculous to ask where Inoue might stand among the sports legends.

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