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Naoya Inoue likely moving to bantamweight in 2018

Naoya Inoue might be moving up before we can see him in the biggest super flyweight fight.

Naoya Inoue v Kohei Kono - WBO World Super Flyweight Title Bout Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

If you’re hoping to see Naoya Inoue face the winner of the February clash between Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs Juan Francisco Estrada next year, that might not be in the cards.

Inoue (14-0, 12 KO) is ready to defend his WBO super flyweight title on Saturday in Yokohama, when he faces France’s Yoan Boyeaux (41-4, 26 KO). But Inoue, 24, is looking at a potential move up in weight, he said at Thursday’s final press conference.

"This may be my last defense as 115-pound world champion. My physical and mental condition is at its very best and I believe I'll be able to show a very good performance. Next year, I'd like to try to acquire my third world belt."

This would also have an impact on the February 24 “Superfly II” card on HBO, with Srisaket facing Estrada in the main event. There was hope that if Inoue beats Boyeaux as expected, he would fight again just two months later on that show, which would then ideally have set up Inoue to face the main event’s winner.

But if Inoue decides to go up to 118 and chase another belt, ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that it’s unlikely Inoue would be on that card. If Inoue were to stay within the WBO to chase that belt at bantamweight, his target would currently be Zolani Tete, who is set to defend against Omar Narvaez on February 10 in London.

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