Inoue confident ahead of Nery clash in May

Naoya Inoue enjoyed an excellent 2023, with two wins and becoming the big fish in the super-bantamweight pond. 

Stoppage victories over Stephen Fulton Jr. in July and Marlon Tapales in December saw Inoue add a second undisputed championship to his extraordinary haul of belts. 

Last month, Inoue was announced as the Boxing Writers’ Association of America's Fighter of the Year for 2023, the first Japanese fighter to win it. 

'The Monster' will collect his award at the BWAA's annual awards, which will be held in New York in June. However, Inoue will take to the ring a month earlier. 

Luis Nery will challenge Inoue for his undisputed status, with the Mexican restoring his reputation following his controversies with Shinsuke Yamanaka.

Nery and Yamanka first fought in 2017, but days after Nery’s third-round win it transpired that Nery had tested positive for the substance Zilpaterol in the lead-up. 

The Mexican escaped but was ordered to travel back to Japan and obligate the conditions of his acquittal with a rematch.

Nery failed to make weight, missing the 118lbs limit by 3lbs and he was stripped of his title, but stopped Yamanaka in two rounds but was banned for life by the Japanese Boxing Commission. 

Nery is now Inoue’s mandatory challenger following his 2023 battle with Azat Hovhannisyan, which was widely nominated as a Fight of the Year contender. 

Inoue is aware of the task at hand, following a recent interview with The Ring, acknowledging that Nery is a fast starter.

"My impression is that Nery is a fighter who likes to mix it up,” Inoue told The Ring's Daisuke Sugiura. “He is resilient and has a strong will to fight. I have confidence in myself to be able to do better than him even in the early rounds. If there is something I need to be careful about, it's that he is good at throwing combinations from middle range, and it's like he throws punches while moving. I'll need to pay attention to his sense of distance [and take control the distance].

"This is a fight between me and Nery. What took place in the past has no bearing on the fight in May. But, well, whenever I look at Nery on 'X' or read his interviews, I find that he keeps talking about the Yamanaka fights," Inoue added.

"If Nery's camp digs up stories from the past, I will take that sentiment into account. If he continues to make such radical provocations, I will carry the feelings along with him too."