Legendary boxing promoter Bob Arum heaped heavy praise on Naoya Inoue following his victory over Jason Moloney on Saturday.
According to Lance Pugmire of The Athletic, Arum said Inoue is "the best fighter I've seen in years in person." Arum added that Inoue "has the ability to be as popular as Manny Pacquiao was."
Inoue, who is a 27-year-old native of Japan, beat Moloney by technical knockout in the seventh round Saturday to retain the WBA (Super), IBF and The Ring bantamweight titles. With that victory, Inoue improved to 20-0 as a professional.
Since making his professional debut in 2012, Inoue has been a dominant force. Of The Monster's 20 wins, 17 have come by way of knockout.
He has also beaten some big names on his way to the top, including Nonito Donaire. In November 2019, Inoue handed Donaire his sixth career loss and won the WBA (Super) bantamweight title by way of his unanimous-decision victory.
Aside from Floyd Mayweather Jr., it can be argued that no boxer over the past 25 years has been more successful or more popular than Pacquiao.
Arum knows that as well as anyone since he is Pacquiao's longtime promoter, and the fact that he puts Inoue in the same class suggests that he envisions The Monster becoming an international superstar in his own right.
As of right now, the most intriguing and profitable fight for Inoue may be a clash with WBO bantamweight champion Johnriel Casimero.
Like Pacquiao, Casimero is a Philippines native with an impressive career record. Casimero is 30-4 with 21 wins by way of knockout, and he is currently on a six-fight winning streak.
Per Pugmire, Arum said he expects Inoue and Casimero to meet by March 2021 in what could be one of the best fights of the year.