Back in the 1980s, super flyweight Khaosai Galaxy of Thailand was something of an underground phenom for U.S. boxing fans. From 1984 until his retirement in 1991, he held the WBA 115-pound strap, successfully defending it 19 times, 15 inside of the distance.
You could read about him in magazines and catch an occasional thrilling highlight reel on a show light Wide World of Sports. But he never fought in the United States, so he was essentially an mystery to even hardcore fans in North America.
The Youtube era has changed everything for fans. So while a fighter like Naoya Inoue has yet to appear outside of his native Japan, anyone who is a serious boxing head is well aware of him and has seen a fair number of his fights.
Still, it’s one thing to catch up on a fighter on Youtube and another thing entirely to finally get to see him in real time. So it was major news on Monday when Ring Magazine reported that Inoue plans to make his next fight in the United States.
For boxing fans, this will be something like when the Beatles came to New York. Still just 24, Inoue is regarded by many as a pound-for-pound top 10. In April 2014, he stopped Adrian Hernandez for the WBC light flyweight strap. Eight months later, he jumped to 115 pounds and smashed long-time WBO belt holder Omar Narvaez inside of three rounds. By way of comparison, Narvaez went the distance with Nonito Donaire.
Inoue did all of this the same year that he turned 21.
Ever since beating Narvaez, Inoue has been talked about as a potential opponent for Roman Gonzalez. But I wouldn’t be shocked if Inoue’s true move to greatness happens at 118 or 122 pounds. I could see him becoming the man who finally gives Guillermo Rigondeaux the kind of major fight the Cuban deserves.