Boxing commentator Tim Bradley would like to see Naoya Inoue move up to featherweight [126] in search of bigger fights.

He feels he’s beaten everyone there is in the 122-lb division by becoming the undisputed champion, and the only one in the weight class is Junto Nakatani. That would be a big fight for Japanese fans, but maybe not elsewhere.

The Featherweight Gauntlet

Bradley would like to see Inoue (27-0, 24 KOs) go up to featherweight and attempt to become a three-division undisputed champion. Even if the 31-year-old Inoue fails, it would be interesting to see him face these fighters:

– Nick Ball
– Bruce Carrington
– Luis Alberto Lopez
– Rey Vargas
– Rafael Espinoza
– Robeisy Ramirez
– Otabek Kholmatov

Some boxing fans believe Naoya Inoue is afraid to move up to featherweight because he would be facing guys with power similar to his, and he doesn’t want to lose.

Size-wise, Inoue is more than big enough because, in between fights, he looks like a 150-pounder. He should have more than enough size to compete at 126, 130, and 135.

A Shot at GOAT Status

“I thought his last fight was amazing. I like the fact that he was able to get knocked down [by Luis Nery], keep his composure, get back up, change his game up, and not make the same mistake over again and then executive,” said boxing analyst Tim Bradley to Fight Hub TV, talking about undisputed super bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue’s last fight against Luis Nery on May 6th.

Inoue looked vulnerable, getting dropped in the first round by Luis Nery and taking a lot of shots in the fight against a guy that Brandon Figueroa had easily handled. Is Inoue getting old?

The way Inoue looked in that fight, he’d be food for the top guys at featherweight, which might be why he’s staying put at super bantamweight.

“He’s a killer, a phenomenal fighter. As far as what he should do. He should move up to a different weight class,” said Bradley about Inoue. “He’s killed everybody at 122 [super bantamweight]. There’s no business left for him. He beat the champions there. There are a few guys that may pose some sort of a challenge, but they’re going to get knocked out, too.”

Inoue beat a bunch of flawed champions at 122 to become undisputed, but it wasn’t a big deal because the division is one of the weakest in the sport. It’s like the cruiserweight division in that respect. There’s nobody at 122 that could give Inoue a problem, and that’s not because he’s invincible. The division is weak.

Is Inoue Afraid?

“There’s nobody there at 122 that is even on his level. So, go up to 126 lbs and face those guys there,” said Bradley. “Challenge yourself there. If he does that and is successful, that’s GOAT time stuff that we’re talking about, especially if he can win all the belts at 126 lbs. That’s something different.”

Bradley is right. Inoue should challenge himself by moving up to featherweight, but it appears that the fear might be holding him back. He was ringside for Bruce Carrington’s fight last Saturday night, and that performance may have clinched it for the Japanese star. If there had been any interest in Inoue moving up to featherweight, he might have changed his mind after watching Carrington destroy Bryan De Gracia.

“Three divisions and three undisputed. That’s unheard of. I know Crawford is going to be attempting to do that. He wants to do it at 154, which would be amazing if Crawford can do that,” said Bradley.

Crawford has an easier task trying to become undisputed at 154 compared to what Inoue would have to deal with if he moves up to featherweight and faces the murderer’s row of champions, all of which could beat him.

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