Naoya Inoue has been in Las Vegas for more than a week, promoter Bob Arum said on Tuesday, and his weight is on target for Saturday’s clash against Jason Maloney, which will stream on ESPN+.
That’s good news, being that the 19-0 “Monster” makes his home in Japan, and no one needs to tell you that COVID has impacted travel plans and fight matchups. But so far so good for the Top Rank main event, set to play out at the MGM Bubble on Halloween night.
“I did a Zoom Monday with his opponent Moloney, the former world title challenger from Melbourne, Australia,” Arum said. “It’s a terrific fight. And if Inoue, defending his WBA and IBF bantamweight world titles, wins, we will figure out if his people want him to do a fight in Japan for New Year’s Eve, or have us do the next fight here.
“We’d get him in the spring. There are plenty of options, like (WBO bantamweight titleholder) John Riel Casimero, and everybody up to 122.”
How to Watch Inoue vs Moloney
Date: Saturday, Oct. 31 | Start Time: 7:30 pm ET
Location: Top Rank Bubble, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV
Live Online Coverage: BadLeftHook.com
In the co-feature, unbeaten 2016 U.S. Olympian Mikaela Mayer (13-0, 5 KO) will challenge the Polish WBO female junior lightweight world champion Ewa Brodnicka (19-0, 2 KO), and heavyweight Jared Anderson (6-0, 6 KO) has a fight, too.
Arum is aware there are other entertainment options for sports fans on Saturday. Showtime is trotting out Gervonta Davis vs Leo Santa Cruz on a pay-per-view from Texas. The Bobfather said he’s not worried about the SHO fare. You can pay $49.99 for a year’s subscription to ESPN+, he said, or pony up a premium fee for the Gervonta card.
“Ours, you do have to be a subscriber,” he continued. “They are gonna do no business.”
But Santa Cruz is a viable foe, I pointed out.
“It’s not because it’s not a good fight, but asking people to pay that during the pandemic, it’s ridiculous. The only way pay-per-view works, for forever, is when you can get a bunch of people over your house.”
That option being disabled, and the prevalence of piracy, he said, make it an uphill climb with lead hiking boots.
Business aside, as far as the contest goes, one has to wonder what type of rust effect there might be on Inoue. He was last seeing live fire in Nov. 2019 against Nonito Donaire. It was a harder lift than many assumed it would be, and was that because, I don’t know, he’s reached his athletic peak? 118 is a bit too taxing for him? He’s not a top three pound-for-pounder? Or maybe that Donaire is an A-fighter, with a heart right there with his skill set as a massive plus to his credit?
“Monster” fanatics didn’t like seeing those counters from Donaire get to him. Rips to the body, too, were landing from the seasoned Donaire, who wasn’t put off even a tiny bit by the Inoue hype. Might a fractured eye socket, which did not need surgery, be worrying for the man from Japan? Do we think some of what worked for Nonito, especially that willpower, that intrepid mindset, has been imbued into the twin Moloney?
I don’t expect him to be able to replicate the speed-power-timing-accuracy packaging Inoue saw from Donaire, so mindset is going to be that much more important.
How are you seeing this Top Rank main event, readers?