Naoya Inoue Keeps Super Bantam Titles with 6th-Round TKO of Nery at Tokyo Dome; Bounces Back from 1st Knockdown of Career

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Naoya Inoue celebrates after knocking out Luis Nery at Tokyo Dome on Monday.

Naoya Inoue lived up to his nickname as boxing’s “Monster” when he defended his unified super bantamweight world titles with a sixth-round technical knockout of Mexico’s Luis Nery at Tokyo Dome on Monday, although the victory came with an unexpected scare.

Inoue was dealt the first knockdown of his pro career when Nery sending Inoue to the canvas in the first round with a left hook, shocking the crowd of 43,000 witnessing the first world title fight at Tokyo Dome since James “Buster” Douglas’ stunning upset of Mike Tyson in 1990.

But the 31-year-old Inoue shook off the knockdown and sent his Mexican opponent to the canvas three times starting from the second round. In the sixth round, Inoue landed a decisive right that knocked down Nery in the corner, prompting the referee to stop the fight.

“I think I may have been flustered when I saw the scene [big crowd] at the Dome,” Inoue said. On notching another big win for Japanese boxing, he added, “I felt pressure, but the crowd’s support gave me power.”

The victory raised Inoue’s record to 27-0 with 24 knockouts, and enabled him to keep the super bantamweight belts from all four global boxing organizations — the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO. Nery, 29, went into the bout ranked first by the WBC.

Inoue has now won 22 world title fights, equaling the record for Japanese boxers set by Kazuto Ioka.

The fight was the main event among four title fights on the card at Tokyo Dome, which also saw Tyson win a world heavyweight bout in 1988 before returning in 1990 and suffering his stunning loss to Douglas.