Naoya Inoue appears to have a fight date set for his Top Rank debut, as the 27-year-old WBA and IBF bantamweight titleholder will defend against Jason Moloney on Oct. 31, according to an ESPN report citing Top Rank promoter Bob Arum.
Inoue (19-0, 16 KO) signed with Top Rank after his 2019 Fight of the Year win over Nonito Donaire, and the company have big plans to turn him into a star in the United States, which is fighting style and general demeanor should help. He’s nicknamed “Monster,” and he’s earned that, largely decimating the opposition in his seven-year pro career, which has seen him win world titles at 108, 115, and 118 pounds.
Moloney (21-1, 18 KO) will be getting a second crack at a world title, as he dropped a narrow decision to Emmanuel Rodriguez in an IBF title fight in Oct. 2018. Had Moloney won that bout, he would already have faced Inoue, who smashed Rodriguez in a semifinal World Boxing Super Series tournament fight.
Inoue was meant to make his Top Rank debut in the spring in a unification with WBO titlist John Riel Casimero, but that fell through due to coronavirus travel restrictions. There is hope that it can still happen — Casimero still wants it for sure — but for the time being they’re taking interim bouts, and close enough to one another that it could line them up for a meeting in early 2021. Casimero is set to defend his belt against Duke Micah on Sept. 26.