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Naoya Inoue signs with Top Rank, will fight on ESPN platforms starting in 2020

“The Monster” is coming to America next year.

Naoya Inoue v Nonito Donaire - WBSS Bantamweight Final Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) got the win over Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs), but it was far from easy.

“The Monster” was cut and wobbled but nevertheless got a unanimous decision over “The Filipino Flash” in what has to be considered boxing’s “Fight of the Year” at the moment. Not only has he unified the WBA and IBF bantamweight titles and won the World Boxing Super Series tournament, but he’s parlayed that into a promotional contract with Top Rank Boxing and ESPN.

Top Rank made the signing official in the post-fight press conference.

“Naoya Inoue is a generational talent, the sort of fighter who comes around once a decade,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said via press release. “He is already a superstar in Japan, and he will be major star stateside in no time. You are looking at an all-time great who is entering the prime of what will be a historic career.”

“It is a tremendous honor to sign with Top Rank and to showcase my talents on ESPN,” Inoue said. “I look forward to 2020. I’ve fought in America once before, and I look forward to doing so again in the very near future.”

“I would like to thank Mr. Bob Arum and Mr. Todd duBoef,” said Hideyuki Ohashi, CEO of Ohashi Promotions. “ESPN is a tremendous platform for Naoya as he continues his career.”

Inoue has fought in the United State just once, stopping Antonio Nieves on HBO’s inaugural SuperFly card in 2017. He’s had all but two of his pro bouts in his home country of Japan.

Joshua Greer is the IBF #2 ranked fighter and is under the Top Rank banner, so that’s a possibility. There’s also WBC champion Nordine Oubaali, who defended his title with a decision win over Naoya’s brother Takuma on the undercard, thus a built-in storyline. Consensus opinion is that the best fight to make is with Mexico’s Luis Nery, who also hits hard and has an all-action style, but his affiliation with PBC may complicate things when it comes to booking such a matchup.

The main thing is that Inoue will get increased exposure to American fight fans with this Top Rank/ESPN contract, and with his unbelievably exciting bouts, he should be appointment viewing.

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