Whoever wins the undisputed world super-bantamweight showdown between Japanese Naoya Inoue and Marlon Tapales will have a deadly opponent in his first defense.
During its annual convention in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the World Boxing Council named stone-fisted Mexican Luis “Pantera” Nery as mandatory challenger to the survivor of the 26 December duel in Tokyo.
Also a southpaw like Tapales, Nery, who holds a 35-1 record with 27 knockouts, has victimized seven Filipinos, all of whom didn’t get the luxury of hearing the final bell.
In his last outing, Nery, 28, crushed Filipino Froilan Saludar.
The Tapales-Inoue match, hyped by Japanese promoters as World War, given that all four belts of the major sanctioning bodies are at stake, takes place at the Ariake Arena.
Apart from the WBC, also on the line are the straps of the World Boxing Association, World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Federation.
The undefeated Inoue holds the WBC and WBO jewels while Tapales owns the WBA and IBF titles.
Widely acknowledged as one of the world’s best boxers regardless of weight class, Inoue crowned himself as WBC and WBO 122-lb king last July with a savage knockout victory over American Stephen Fulton in Tokyo.
Tapales, meanwhile, became a two-belt titleholder after upsetting Murodjon Akhmadaliev of Uzbekistan last April in San Antonio, Texas.