Japanese bantamweight Naoya Inoue is preparing for his next fight with the expectation that he will attempt to unify the division in 2022.
The 28-year-old undefeated fighter is the IBF and WBA champion, and defends his belts against Thai fighter Aran Dipaen on December 14.
Regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters operating today, Inoue is believed to be preparing for a title fight in America next year.
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“Each and every fan is going to have expectations. And I want to defy and go beyond each and every one of their expectations,” Inoue told The Associated Press, and said he hopes to fight John Riel Casimero, the WBO bantamweight champion. The fight had been expected to take place in 2020 but was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Inoue hopes to move up a weight class in 2023 as he is yet to tire of the sport, saying:
“You can’t keep at this unless you really like it. There may be injuries and a risk to your life. It’s a dangerous sport. It’s not something you can do without liking it.
“I am still far from the ideal style of boxing I am pursuing. If I get contented now, then I will just hit a wall when I go to super bantamweight.
“There’s so much farther to go before I reach my peak, and I still don’t know my true potential.
“I still have seven or eight years as a pro, and so I’m going to keep heading higher.”