Top Rank Boxing

CBS Sports' No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer returns to the ring on Monday when Naoya Inoue defends his status as undisputed junior featherweight champion against Luis Nery. Inoue vs. Nery sits atop a stacked card that serves as the first boxing event to be held in the Tokyo Dome since James "Buster" Douglas' historic upset of Mike Tyson in 1990.

Inoue has become one of the most dominant forces in boxing, with his 26-0 record featuring 23 wins by knockout. Inoue has won titles at junior flyweight, junior bantamweight, bantamweight and now junior featherweight, going undisputed at the two latter weights.

Inoue spent his 2023 conquering junior featherweight in just two fights. In July, Inoue faced WBO and WBC champion Stephen Fulton in a highly-anticipated fight only to thrash Fulton before scoring the stoppage in the eighth round. That set up a December showdown with IBF and WBA champ Marlon Tapales, winning the fight with a stoppage in Round 10.

"This is, I think, the greatest, most important boxing event in the history of Japan," Top Rank president Bob Arum said this week. "After so many years since Mike Tyson and Buster Douglas fought at the Tokyo Dome, boxing is back at that famous, huge stadium in Tokyo for this event.

"The challenger, Nery, is a familiar face here in Japan, and he is one of the best fighters in the lighter weight divisions in the world. Like all Mexican fighters, he is a warrior who will come here Monday night to do his best to emerge victorious in the fight."

Nery is an intriguing opponent based on his history in Japan. After Nery stopped Shinsuke Yamanaka in a 2017 bout in Japan to win the WBC bantamweight title, it was announced Nery had failed a drug test. The title went back to Yamanaka but the result of the fight ultimately stood as the failed test was determined to be the result of contaminated food.

Nery then rematched Yamanaka two fights later, this time scoring a TKO in the second round. Nery again failed to win the WBC title as he'd missed weight by three pounds. As a result, Japan's boxing commission suspended Nery from ever fighting in the country again.

That ban was reversed when Inoue began to target a fight with Nery and means that the already pro-Inoue crowd will be even more enthusiastic in cheering against Nery, who twice stopped a Japanese fan favorite under questionable circumstances.

The rest of the card is loaded with world title clashes. Jason Moloney will defend the WBO bantamweight championship against Yoshiki Takei. Moloney, the 33-year-old native of Australia, has won six in a row since a 2020 TKO loss to Inoue. Moloney claimed the WBO title two fights against with a majority decision win over Vincent Astrolabio in May 2023. He retained his crown with another majority decision over  Saul Sanchez in January.

"I've had an amazing preparation and am in the best condition of my career," Moloney said this week. "I'm very excited to be part of this historic event and I'm so well-prepared to put on an incredible fight. I'm ready to defend my title.

"Every time I step in the ring, I give my all, and I plan on giving the fans an exciting fight on Monday night. Takei is fighting to become a world champion, but I am in the best shape of my career and ready to put on the best performance of my career."

Elsewhere, Seigo Yuri Akui looks to defend his WBA flyweight title against Taku Kuwahara. The matchup is a rematch of their 2021 meeting where Auki scored a 10th-round TKO. Auki has won seven in a row, including a decision over Artem Dalakian in January to claim the WBA crown. Kuwahara has won five straight since the first meeting. Plus, Takuma Inoue looks to defend his WBA bantamweight title against Sho Ishida.

Let's take a closer look at the rest of the undercard with the latest odds before getting to a prediction and expert pick on the main event below.

Inoue vs. Nery fight card, odds

FavoriteUnderdogWeight class

Noaya Inoue (c) -1200

Luis Nery +700

Undisputed super bantamweight tilte

Jason Moloney (c) -200

Yoshiki Takei +160

WBO bantamweight title

Seigo Yuri Akui (c)

Taku Kuwahara

WBA flyweight title

Takuma Inoue (c) -700

Sho Ishida +500

WBA bantamweight title

Viewing information

  • Date: May 5
  • Location: Tokyo Dome -- Tokyo
  • Start time: 4 a.m. ET (Main event ringwalks expected around 7:35 a.m. ET)
  • How to watch: ESPN+ 
  • Prediction

    Nery is a solid fighter. He has been in with talented opposition and has had to gut through fights, like his February 2023 thriller with Azat Hovhannisyan. That said, Inoue is a different animal than anyone else in boxing. Inoue is a relentless fighter who not only has massive knockout power, but is one who possesses true boxing skills.

    Inoue is a nearly perfect fighter, the kind of "Monster" you would create in a lab to dominate the boxing world. Yes, he's a -1200 favorite, but that would be the case against basically any available opponent. Inoue is that good. Nery returning to Japan after his suspension should almost be seen as a punishment given what Inoue is capable of doing to him. Pick: Naoya Inoue via TKO8