Highly tabbed as one of the favorites to win the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) bantamweight division, Japanese knockout king Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15 KOs) and his translator sat down with Sporting News to discuss his upcoming bout against Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) on Saturday, which will be live on DAZN .
Sporting News: This is only your second fight outside of Japan and the first time in the U.K. How are you feeling about your semifinal against Emmanuel Rodriguez?
Naoya Inoue: I am in great shape and I can’t wait for the fight. I am going to knock out Rodriguez on Saturday. I was watching from ringside in Orlando when he beat Jason Moloney. Rodriguez has good fundamentals, but I am going for the KO.
SN: It did take a while for this fight to be arranged. Was there a danger that you might have overtrained for this bout?
NI: It’s been about seven months, so yes there is that possibility of overtraining. I had a long time, but I was able to train my boxing and I was able to take good quality time, so it was good. I am in fantastic condition.
SN: What age were you when you started boxing and what was it about the sport that made you want to fight for a living?
NI: I started boxing at the age of six years old. It was natural for me to fight for a living because I’ve been boxing from a young age.
SN: Your brother, Takuma, is also a boxer. Did you have many sparring sessions around the house when you were growing up?
NI: Yes, we did have many sparring sessions growing up. But not anymore, although we do train together as our father [Shingo] is our trainer.
SN: Your nickname is the "Monster." How did it come about?
NI: My promoter, Hideyuki Ohashi, gave me the nickname when turning professional as I kept knocking people out.
SN: When you turned professional in 2012, you vowed never to fight against an easy opponent. Since then, you have been in emphatic form, knocking out 15 of your 17 opponents so far. Would you say that they have all been easy?
NI: No, I never take my opponents lightly. I think of each opponent as the best I’ve ever faced, and I continue to train as hard as I can for each fight.
SN: You’re a three-weight world champion, how far up the weight divisions do you feel you can go?
NI: At the moment, I’m only thinking about winning this tournament which I believe I will. I’ll think about my future after the tournament is over, but all of my focus is on Rodriguez.