In the world of boxing, few names evoke the same level of respect and admiration as Manny Pacquiao. A boxing legend, who became an icon in not just Filipino sports, but Asian culture, as Pacquiao might be the most famous Asian athlete since Bruce Lee.
Now Pacquiao has a new peer as Naoya Inoue has become a four-division world champion, becoming undisputed at his previous weight class of bantamweight and recently knocked out the best guy at the super bantamweight division in Stephen Fulton Jr., to become a unified world champion. The win over Fulton secured the WBO and WBC super bantamweight titles for Inoue.
Now Inoue is targeting an undisputed world title fight with Marlon Tapales to become the second male two-division undisputed world champion of the four-belt era, as Terence Crawford recently achieved the feat on July 29th, when he defeated Errol Spence Jr.
Inoue's ability to jump weight classes at leisure is drawing comparisons to Manny Pacquiao, who ended his career (for the time being), as an eight-division world champion. Given that Inoue is dominating fighters at weight classes in which you'd assume a size difference would come into play - that is sparking a comparison to the legend that is Pacquiao.
Now comes the big question...will Inoue be better than Pacquiao?
Even amidst the lofty echelons of boxing, where exceptional talent prevails, the star that is Inoue has emerged, sparking speculation that he may outshine even the illustrious Manny Pacquiao.
Top Rank CEO, Bob Arum, said a shocking statement that made headlines when speaking to Little Giant Boxing.
“Inoue is a tremendous, tremendous fighter, like we’ve never seen before, maybe since Manny Pacquiao—probably better than Pacquiao was,” Arum told Little Giant Boxing.
So that begs the question - how good will Inoue be?
Well, he is already a hall-of-fame boxer. So is Pacquiao.
The next question becomes the following - how will Inoue impact the world, and will it be similar to Manny Pacquiao? As this is part of greatness. Beyond that, what will his legendary nights at the higher weights look like?
Arum, who serves as Inoue's American promoter, boldly suggests that the Japanese dynamo could turn into a once-in-a-lifetime type fighter. As Arum believes that Inoue could fight as high as junior lightweight or even lightweight. If he got to lightweight that would make him a seven-division world champion, one short of Pacquiao.
Inoue started his career at 108 lbs, one above the 105 lbs limit Pacquiao started at.
One keen observer in the evolution of Inoue is Manny Pacquiao himself, who has wanted to be involved with Inoue.
Right now it is a debate - do you go with recent bias, or do you look at the accolades of a finished career?
Regardless, Inoue is trending into the rare air of all-time-great and might begin to challenge the untouchable, or seemingly untouchable left behind by Manny Pacquiao.