MANILA -- Japan's "Monster" Naoya Inoue will be fighting Australia's Jason Moloney instead of Filipino bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero.
Top Rank, which handles Inoue's promotional rights, explained that the Casimero fight could not be done because of travel restrictions.
But boxing analyst Ed Tolentino said there may be another reason why the bout could not be done.
"From where I sit, (Top Rank's) Bob Arum is just trying to protect Inoue. Let's admit it, Nonito Donaire lost to Inoue, but he gave him a good fight and dented his aura of invincibility," he said.
Tolentino was referring to the close match between Donaire and Inoue in their brutal brawl back in November.
He said Arum may have felt it unwise to pit Inoue against Casimero, who has an awkward fighting style aside from having a one-punch knockout power.
"If Inoue knocked out Donaire, he would have marched straight to the Casimero fight. But Inoue got a tough fight from Donaire and the last thing he wants is to jump straight to another one," said Tolentino.
Casimero instead will be facing world's No. 11 Duke Micah of Ghana in Sept. 26.
If Casimero easily disposes of Micah and Inoue destroys Moloney, Tolentino said Arum might reconsider arranging the bout.
But for now, Inoue needs a confidence-builder.
"Casimero is understandably frustrated. He wants this fight. He has been hunting 'The Monster' for some time," said Tolentino.
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