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Naoya Inoue-Murodjon Akhmadaliev 122-Pound Championship Fight Ordered By WBA


Naoya Inoue climbs the ropes in celebration after his May 6 knockout win over Luis Nery at Tokyo Dome. Photo Credit: Naoki Fukuda

Naoya Inoue officially has his marching orders.

The RING and undisputed 122-pound king was ordered to next face WBA mandatory challenger Murodjon Akhmadaliev. Both parties were instructed to enter a 30-day negotiation period to reach terms.

“The World Boxing Association (WBA) Championships Committee ordered the mandatory bout,” the sanctioning body announced on Thursday. “The pioneer organization sent the official communication to the parties.. and gave them 30 days to negotiate, which will end on July 14.”

Inoue is co-promoted by Ohashi Promotions and Top Rank. Akhmadaliev is with Matchroom Boxing and World of Boxing.

Per WBA Championships Rule C.10, titlists must honor his mandatory within nine months from when they claimed the belt. Inoue (27-0, 24 knockouts) fully unified the division when he knocked out Marlon Tapales (38-4, 20 KOs) in the tenth round last December 26 in Tokyo. The Ring’s No. 2-rated pound-for-pound fighter defended his WBC and WBO titles while he earned the WBA and IBF belts.

Yokohama’s Inoue also re-established Ring championship lineage with the win.

He followed up with a thrilling sixth-round knockout of Luis Nery (35-2, 27 KOs) on May 6 at the Tokyo Dome. Inoue had to survive the first knockdown of his career—in the opening round—to storm back and brutalize Nery into submission.

IBF mandatory challenger Sam Goodman (18-0, 8 KOs) was ringside and made a point to demand a fight with Inoue. The unbeaten Aussie contender has softened his stance and will instead pursue a stay-busy fight. The news has destroyed the online credibility of Nadim Haddad, his greatest hype man.

Uzbekistan’s Akhmadaliev (12-1, 9 KOs) previously held the WBA and IBF belts.

The 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist dethroned Daniel Roman via split decision in their January 2020 thriller in Miami Gardens, Florida. Just three defenses followed in a reign stalled by injuries and illness.

Akhmadaliev lost the belts to Tapales in a disputed split decision last April 8 in San Antonio, Texas. He immediately made his way back to mandatory challenger status one fight later. Akhmadaliev stopped unbeaten Kevin Gonzalez in the eighth-round of their WBA title eliminator last December 16 in Glendale, Arizona.

Inoue previously mentioned Akhmadaliev as part of his three-fight plan for 2024, all at junior featherweight.

The hope is to stage the fight in September. However it is likely no longer part of Turki Alalshikh’s first show in the United Kingdom.

Inoue has won titles at 108, 115, 118 and 122. He became Japan’s first-ever undisputed champion in the four-belt era when he fully unified the bantamweight division. One fight later, Inoue was the first Japanese fighter to win major titles in four divisions with a one-sided knockout win over Stephen Fulton last July.

The WBC/WBO 122-pound title win saw Inoue also become Japan’s first two-division unified titlist. He added more history for his nation with his win over Tapales to claim undisputed championship status in two weight divisions.

Jake Donovan a senior writer for The Ring and vice president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Follow @JakeNDaBox

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