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Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue to debut in Las Vegas in April

Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue is in the midst of conquering the bantamweight division.

He’ll continue his quest now in the United States.

In Las Vegas.

Inoue (19-0, 16 knockouts) will make his American debut and attempt to further unify the bantamweight titles on April 25 at Mandalay Bay Events Center against WBO champion Johnriel Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs), his promotional firm, Top Rank, announced Thursday.

The 26-year-old Inoue holds the WBA and IBF titles and is considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Top Rank chairman Bob Arum says the phenom is “ready to take the United States by storm.”

Added Arum: “This is still the biggest market for sports, for boxing, in the world. Inoue, next to (Shohei Ohtani), the pitcher for the Angels, is maybe the biggest sports star in Japan.”

Inoue is a three-division world champion and captured the WBC light-flyweight title in his sixth professional fight during April of 2014 with a knockout victory over Adrian Hernandez. He won the WBO junior-bantamweight title in December of 2014 by knocking out Omar Narváez. After seven title defenses, he won the WBA bantamweight title from Jamie McDonnell in May of 2018.

He’s since added the IBF bantamweight title and beat Nonito Donaire via unanimous decision in November to win the 2018-19 World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament. The bout was honored as Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine.

Inoue signed a multiyear agreement in November with Top Rank and insisted that the first fight of the deal take place in America, Arum said.

“It is a tremendous honor and a dream come true to headline a card in Las Vegas against a great fighter like Casimero,” Inoue said in a statement. “It is my goal to be the undisputed bantamweight king, and I am coming to America to put on a great fight for the fans. … Now, the work begins. I will kick off my 2020 schedule at Mandalay Bay in devastating fashion.”

Pacquiao changes management

Eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao has signed with Paradigm Sports Management, agency CEO Audie Attar announced earlier this week. The agency represents mixed martial arts superstar Conor McGregor, who teased the idea of a fight with Pacquiao in interviews ahead of UFC 246.

Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) last fought in July, beating Keith Thurman via split decision for the WBA welterweight title at MGM Grand Garden.

Top Rank inks heavyweight contender

Heavyweight Oscar Rivas (26-1, 18 KOs) has signed a co-promotional deal with Top Rank, the firm also announced Thursday. Rivas is ranked No. 3 by the WBC and represented Colombia at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

He jump-started his professional career in Montreal, Canada, and won his first 26 fights before losing to Dillian Whyte in July.

Las Vegans in action

Local Caleb Plant (19-0, 11 KOs) makes the second defense of his IBF super middleweight title Saturdayagainst Vincent Feigenbutz in Nashville, Tennessee. Local welterweight Blair Cobbs (13-0-1, 9 KOs), fights Samuel Kotey Neequaye on Friday on the Ryan Garcia-Francisco Fonseca undercard in Anaheim, California.

Local super bantamweight Ra’eese Aleem (15-0, 9 KOs) also fights Adam Lopez on Friday in Philadelphia.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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