Naoya Inoue To Move Up In Weight, Challenge For WBA Bantamweight Title

"The Monster" will be making his long-awaited move to bantamweight and challenge for the WBA world title.

Naoya Inoue, the WBO super flyweight champion, will move up in weight, presumably vacating his WBO title, and fight WBA "regular" bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnel. The fight was confirmed by Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn. The fight will take place on May 25 at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.

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Inoue will be challenging for a world title in his third weight class. Inoue held the WBO super flyweight from 2014-2017, successfully defending the title seven times. The long reign as a super flyweight world champion came after a short stint as the WBC light flyweight champion, holding the title for only a few months in 2014 before moving up to super flyweight. Inoue last fought in Japan, stopping Yoan Boyeaux in three rounds to retain his title on December 30. 

McDonnell will stay at bantamweight after it was initially believed he would move up in weight after his last fight against Liborio Solis ended in a no decision. McDonnell won the then-vacant WBA title in 2014 and has defended the title six times.

No other fights has been announced for the card, but Fuji TV will air the fight for Japanese television audiences. If Inoue wins the WBA title, he would set a new Japanese record, becoming the fastest man to become a three-weight world champion in 16 fights, which would be two fights less than it took Kazuto Ioka to reach that plateau. Inoue would also be the 47th man in history to win a boxing world title in three different weight classes.

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