TOKYO – Luis Nery might have cut a dejected figure this morning. 

There was discolouration around his eyes but as he sat in the hotel lobby, he posed for pictures and signed autographs for the fans. He smiled more than he had all week.

Mexican Nery was booed last night in his challenge of Naoya Inoue for the unified super bantamweight titles, and it has been well documented why.

But, this morning, queues respectfully formed around him and then, when Nery disappeared into the hotel elevator, fans remained – hoping to see him again.

The 29-year-old from Tijuana then re-emerged carrying a bag and started to distribute the contents, giving out gloves, training camp clothing, jackets and memorabilia to the disbelieving fans. Last night, Nery had earned their respect the hard way.

Nery, in the opening round inside a packed Tokyo Dome, dropped Inoue for the first time in the Japanese star’s career, almost silencing a nation.

Inoue, however, rallied, adjusted and floored Nery three times on his way to a thrilling sixth-round victory.

“I feel good,” Nery said, content to take some time out the morning after the night before. “A little disappointed, because I know I can do more, and I’m frustrated a little bit but I feel happy to show my power and take him down in the first round.”

When he sent Inoue to the canvas with a well-timed left hook, Nery admitted he felt the upset – something he believed all along he was capable of – was on.

“Yes, I thought it was going to be over,” he lamented, “but I didn’t feel a lot of power in me, so I’ve got to see what went on, and look at the video.” 

In any other fight, it might have been the punch of the contest, and it might have proved decisive. Sadly for Nery, it was the fourth best shot of the night and Inoue calmed down, became less reckless and started to manage the timing and distance of the fight.

“I think what Inoue did, he started playing with me and getting in my head, he changed his game and also he started moving around,” admitted Nery, adding: “Yes, I think he’s very good. He’s not really that strong, he has incredible speed. I still think he’s not the best one in the world. [He’s] not the best pound-for-pound.”

Before the fight, with all of the excitement around Inoue, Nery was being overlooked and fans were speculating and dreaming about where Inoue’s limits might be in weight.

“He can probably go up to 126, 130, it all depends on the opponent,” said Nery, who says he does not watch much boxing so he would not name any potential Inoue opponents. 

“Definitely he can do something at those weights, he can go up there.”

Inoue remains at the sharp-end of the mythical pound-for-pound rankings, but Nery’s stock should have risen, and whatever comes next for Inoue, Nery still has his own goals.

“I’ve got to take advantage of that [if his stock has risen] and look better in another fight. I want to become unified, either at 122 or 126.”

Nery, however, will likely move up to 126 and he believes he will be stronger as he rises in weight. He feels he can improve, too. He is 35-2 (27 KOs) and added: “I’m still not there. I can do more.”

His manager Sean Gibbons had stated beforehand that Nery was now living a more disciplined life and Nery felt the benefits of that. He also appreciates it is a short career and knows he has to apply himself like a professional.

“I always knew that you’ve got to take it serious,” he said. 

When pressed about enjoying the party lifestyle of his past, he replied: “Yeah, like everyone else, like a normal person.

“But I’ve let all that go. It’s time to focus on my career now and now I have three daughters and I am getting married – so things change now.”

Does this mean he sheds the bad boy image from here on in?

“No, I’m still a bad boy,” he smiled, “but inside the ring. Yesterday I showed that. I didn’t come here to run like [Stephen] Fulton or like everyone else. I came here to win the fight.”

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