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DEAL OR NO DEAL? Inoue camp offering Filipino champ crumbs?

Naoya Inoue puts on a show of force against Stephen Fulton last July. | Photograph Courtesy Of Ohashi Promotions

\ TOKYO, Japan — At first glance, Naoya “Monster” Inoue didn’t appear as if he is the boxing game’s most feared puncher.

Standing a shade below 5-foot-5 inches, Inoue is not just the reigning World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization super-bantamweight champion.

He is the sport’s most exciting fighter and the knockout puncher whose camp is in negotiations to face the 122-lb division’s other two-belt holder, Filipino southpaw Marlon Tapales.

But Akihiko Honda, Japan’s all-powerful promoter, told Daily Tribune late Wednesday night that getting the job done hasn’t been that easy.

“Negotiation are very difficult,” Honda, who heads Teiken Promotion, said from his ringside seat at the famed Korakuen Hall.

Honda, who co-promotes Inoue alongside Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., will hold another round of talks with Tapales’ official representative Sean Gibbons around mid-September here in the hopes of getting a deal in place.

A date in December is being eyed by Honda and both camps are on the same page about the site.

Honda was hoping to utilize the Tokyo Dome, the colossal 55,000-capacity venue just adjacent to the historic venue.

“But it’s booked because of concerts and it’s hard to find a venue (and if the Inoue-Tapales fight happens), it will be held during weekday,” he said.

There are several suitable venues around the Japanese capital that can be tapped such as the Ariake Coliseum, Yoyogi Stadium, Ryogoku Arena and even the Nippon Budokan.

But the venue seems to be not of a big concern but the ongoing talks with Tapales’ camp is.

An offer has already been sent to Tapales but not enticing enough for his camp to accept.

“We’ve got the belt that Inoue wants so he could end up becoming the undisputed champion,” a key member of Team Tapales said.

Another vital member of his entourage said there is another group that is interested in pitting Tapales against another Japanese fighter for an astronomical amount.

“Inoue can fight whoever he likes but Tapales’ WBA and IBF straps won’t be on the line,” he stressed, rattling off John Riel Casimero and Luis Nery of Mexico.

Inoue became WBC and WBO champion last July after knocking out Stephen Fulton of the United States in brutal fashion.

But Japanese fight fans aren’t going to see Inoue engage in a unification clash by taking on one of the belt-less boxers.

Tapales’s people are just being reasonable and not hard to deal with.

As a two-belt champion, Tapales deserves to be treated like royalty.

Gibbons, meanwhile, is keeping his fingers crossed that his upcoming trip is going to be worth it.

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