Two weeks ago in Las Vegas, Naoya Inoue’s one-sided knockout win over Michael Dasmarinas came in the presence of two divisional rivals he’d love nothing more than to face in the immediate future.
That path could be shortened, if bantamweight titlists John Riel Casimero (30-4, 21KOs) and Nonito Donaire (41-6, 27KOs) collide as planned on August 14 on Showtime.
The winner would walk away with the WBC/WBO bantamweight titles, while Inoue owns the WBA/IBF belts.
At the moment, the Donaire and Casimero camps are engaged in a public war of words - with the fight now in limbo after Donaire announced his intention to withdraw on Tuesday night.
Naturally, the winner of a Casimero-Donaire unification would have to rank at the top of Inoue's list of next stated targets.
“Of course,” Inoue told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna.
Inoue (21-0, 18KOs) picked up his second consecutive knockout victory in Las Vegas, coming eight months after battering Australia’s Jason Moloney inside of seven rounds last Halloween at MGM Grand Conference Center.
The most recent victory was far more emphatic, with Dasmarinas (30-3-1, 20KOs) outgunned from the outset and repeatedly sent to the canvas courtesy of Inoue’s merciless body attack. Inoue scored three knockdowns on the night, the last of which provided the stoppage at 2:45 of round three.
Casimero and Donaire were both in attendance for the ESPN-televised event, each offering their high praise to Inoue and expressing an interest in facing the Japanese wunderkind after their own head-on collision. Such a fight—assuming a winner comes of Casimero-Donaire in August—would create the first-ever undisputed bantamweight champion in the three- or four-belt era.
That very much remains a goal of Inoue, who is also among the sport’s pound-for-pound best.
“Getting this win brings a smile to my face,” notes Inoue. “The ability to face the winner of Donaire-Casimero will bring an even bigger smile to my face.”
Should Casimero-Donaire happen, the gut feeling of the unbeaten 28-year-old is that a rematch is in his future.
"I am going with Donaire in dramatic style," believes Inoue, who outpointed Donaire in their sensational November 2019 WBA/IBF unification clash.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox