Who will get Inoue’s belts? There is a first surprise


“Monster” from Japan Naoya Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) knocked out the British Paul Butler in December and collected all the belts in the bantamweight division, after which he announced the transition to the next division. In January, he officially gave up his championship belts.

Who will get them?

The IBF has the clearest position. They held two eliminators, the winners of which – Vincent Astrolabio (18-3, 13 KOs) from the Philippines and Emmanuel Rodriguez (21-2, 13 KOs) from Puerto Rico – will meet in a fight for the vacant belt. The organization has already ordered this fight – the parties have until February 25 to agree amicably in order to avoid bidding. There shouldn’t be any problems with this duel as both are collaborating with Premier Boxing Champions Al Haymon.

In the WBC, everything seemed to be clear too – the vacant belt was to be played by the legendary veteran Nonito Donaire (42-7, 28 KOs) from the Philippines and Jason Moloney (25-2, 19 KOs) from Australia. But the latter “unexpectedly” refused to fight.

In fact, there are no surprises here. His promoter Bob Arum (Top Rank) is unwilling to do business with Filipino promoter Richard Schafer (Probellum) due to the alleged association of this company with mafiosi by Daniel Kinahan.

The WBC will offer a fight to the next available boxer in the ranking. It looks like it will be Navaphon Kaikanha (57-2-1, 47 KOs) from Thailand or Raymart Gaballo (25-1, 21 KOs) from the Philippines. The latter has already fought with Donaire in the status of a mandatory contender – he lost ahead of schedule. But his chances of a rematch are high, as the Thai is already scheduled to fight in March.

It is obvious that Moloney, meanwhile, will go the way of the WBO (takes first place in both the WBC and the WBO). In the December rating of the organization, Astrolabio, Rodriguez and Gaballo are immediately behind him. So the Aussie looks set to take on No. 5 Nicaraguan midfielder Melvin Lopez (29-1, 19 KOs).

For the WBA, there are no rumors or official orders yet. But two starting lines in the top 15 are occupied by the brother of the ex-absolute Japanese Takuma Inoue (17-1, 4 KOs) and the Venezuelan veteran Liborio Solis (35-6-1, 16 KOs).

In the meantime, Inoue is negotiating a fight with 55.3kg leader Fulton. Promoter Eddie Hearn said that if the Japanese beat the American, he was promised a fight with Akhmadaliev.