Bad news for those eager to watch Naoya Inoue do more terrible things to human skulls. Long-running Japanese periodical Sports Hochi reports that with Japan’s tightened travel restrictions extended until at least the end of February, “The Monster’s” ring return is now targeted for June.
Unsurprisingly, his main targets are still WBC champ Nonito Donaire and WBO champ John Riel Casimero.
It’s now been more than two years since Inoue (22-0, 19 KO) went life-and death with Donaire to win the World Boxing Super Series tournament and claim the WBA belt, and his competition fell off the face of the Earth after COVID scuttled his clash with Casimero. His 2020 campaign saw him crush Jason Moloney, while a disappointing 2021 pitted him against unworthy mandatory challenger Michael Dasmarinas and unworthy IBF top-10 member Aran Dipaen.
That June return could land at either the Tokyo Dome or Saitama Super Arena, and the revenue a full house like that can generate will dissuade Bob Arum and co. from trying to stage it somewhere less regulated. Still, it’s hard not to be frustrated.