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Naoya Inoue to challenge Emmanuel Rodriguez for IBF bantamweight title in May

Kyodo

Naoya Inoue will challenge Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez for the IBF bantamweight title in the World Boxing Super Series semifinals on May 18 in Scotland, promoters announced Tuesday.

In October, Inoue dropped Dominican Juan Carlos Payano 70 seconds into their bout at Yokohama Arena to defend his WBA bantamweight crown and advance to the semifinals at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.

The 25-year-old, known by his alias “Monster,” is undefeated in 17 bouts, with 15 wins by knockout, and has won world titles in three weight classes including light flyweight and super flyweight.

“My destiny is to win the prestigious (Muhammad) Ali Trophy and prove I am the best bantamweight in the world,” Inoue said according to promoters.

“I cannot wait to box in the United Kingdom in front of their loud fans and I will show them a ‘Monster’ performance!”

Rodriguez, who is also undefeated, defended his bantamweight crown for the first time in October, beating Australian Jason Moloney in a split decision in the United States.

“I have been waiting for this moment my entire life,” Rodriguez said. “I always wanted to fight the best, and now I am fighting a boxer considered the best by the boxing reporters and fans. That’s great motivation for me, my team, and Puerto Rico. We got this.”

The 26-year-old Rodriguez has a 19-0 record with 12 KOs.

On the same card, Scotland’s Josh Taylor will take on Belarus’ Ivan Baranchyk in the super lightweight division.