Will Naoya Inoue become pound-for-pound No. 1 if he beats Luis Nery?

There are many fans who believe that the great Naoya Inoue is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world right now. The Japanese superstar certainly has the credentials and his skill level is beyond reproach.

Inoue (26-0, 23 KOs) has won world titles in four weight classes and reigned as undisputed champion in two of them. He briefly held the pound-for-pound top spot in 2022 after knocking out the legendary Nonito Donaire, but Terence Crawford has since taken over.

WATCH: Naoya Inoue vs. Luis Nery, exclusively on ESPN+

The depth of talent in boxing is extremely high and holding the pound-for-pound mantle for a prolonged period of time is difficult. In the mid-1990s, Roy Jones Jr. reigned supreme for years due to his otherworldly talent and dominance. Later on, Floyd Mayweather was the consensus No. 1 thanks to his dazzling skills and unmatched defensive prowess.

The field is different now and it’s harder to break free of the pack. Thanks to his one-sided annihilation of Errol Spence Jr. in July 2023, Crawford has joined the pantheon of welterweight greats that includes Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard. In 2021, Oleksandr Usyk became the first undisputed cruiserweight champ to ascend to heavyweight king since Evander Holyfield. These are massive accomplishments.

So what can Inoue do to re-establish himself as the best fighter in the world regardless of weight class? The Sporting News takes a look at the pound-for-pound landscape.

Will Naoya Inoue become pound-for-pound No. 1 if he beats Luis Nery?

The one area where Inoue excels over his peers is activity. Since the beginning of this decade, “The Monster” has gone 7-0 and he’s picked up two undisputed championships.

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While Crawford and Usyk have also posted career-defining triumphs, they haven’t been as busy. Usyk has gone 4-0, though it must be said that the Ukrainian hero’s inactivity has been largely due to the war in his homeland. Crawford has also gone 4-0 since the beginning of 2020.

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If Inoue batters Luis Nery on May 6 in Tokyo, then he will have doubled his pound-for-pound counterparts in terms of activity. Nery is arguably the biggest threat available at 122 pounds, so this is a solid opponent that Inoue is facing.

For my money, should Inoue defeat Nery emphatically, then he’s the new pound-for-pound king.

MORE: SN’s Top 12 best pound for pound boxers

Will Oleksandr Usyk become pound-for-pound No. 1 if he beats Tyson Fury?

Just 12 days after Inoue has punch swapped with Nery, we’ll have the first undisputed heavyweight title fight in a quarter of a century.

If Oleksandr Usyk were to overcome Tyson Fury’s size and physicality to win the undisputed title in boxing’s glamour division, then it will be almost impossible to deny him. This is the type of feat that epitomizes pound-for-pound.

Usyk would have to do the job in style – a controversial decision would not be enough – but the reigning unified champ has aces up his sleeve if he wins the richest prize in sport on May 18.

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