The ‘Monster’ Inoue’s Devastating Boxing Style

Naoya Inoue Boxing Style

The ‘Monster’ Naoya Inoue is considered one of the most feared fighters in world boxing today due to his unreal power, unique skillset, and body punching attacks. In this boxing style breakdown analysis, I’ll look at his accomplishments to date, what makes him live up to his ‘Monster’ name, and help you take some ideas and tips for your own style.

Watch below or read on to find out more

Who is Naoya Inoue?

Naoya Inoue is without a doubt regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers on many people’s lists today. But how did this young boxing star from Japan get to this level at such a young age? Well, Naoya had a startling amateur career where he amassed a 75-6 record with 48 KOs! Remember this is amateur boxing where he amassed an unreal amount of KOs!

Inoue after a fairly straightforward amateur career, turned pro in 2012, by the next year with a record of 5-0 he had his first world title fight for the WBC World light flyweight title against the Mexican Adrien Hernandez, it only took him 6 rounds…

The ‘Monster’ since then has gone on to amass a perfect record to date and is now a 3 weight world champion by age of 26. Truly remarkable considering he still has so much longer to give to the sport of boxing. It’s exciting to think how far he can go and who he could go onto the face!

The Japanese star won the World Boxing Super Series at 118 lbs (bantamweight), where he defeated former pound 4-pound star and KO artist himself Nonito Donaire in the final in a classic fight.

Inoue’s accomplishments

Inoue and his belts

Inoue has won belts in 3 weight divisions so far, including some national belts in Japan. See his amazing accomplishments to date so far:


WBC light-flyweight title

WBO junior-bantamweight title

IBF bantamweight title

WBA (super) bantamweight title

The Ring Magazine bantamweight belt

Muhammad Ali Trophy – World Boxing Super Series


OPBF light-flyweight title

Japanese light-flyweight title


2010 – Bronze at Asian Youth Championships – light-flyweight

Inoue’s Boxing Style

As mentioned above Inoue is an extremely gifted fighter, but that’s not to say he hasn’t worked to get where he is today. The Japanese star uses his incredible athleticism where he puts pressure on his opponent (mainly with his jab and combination punching) to create openings for his well-known and signature left hook to the body.

I’ll go into more detail below.

Sharp Accurate Jab

Everything for Inoue usually comes off the incredible use of his accurate and varied jab. For most who watch Inoue, this is probably the most underappreciated part of his amazing skill set. Inoue likes to use his jab to feel out his opponent to help apply pressure, but also to help maintain distance and respect from his opponent.

Inoue will tend to use light quick soft jabs 2-3 at a time (A technique Lomachenko also likes to use), This very much helps him set up a stronger powerful jab which in turn helps Inoue fire a straight right, hook, or uppercut on his opponent head or high guard.

Body Jab

He will also throw straight jabs to the body to change up his rhythm when he applies pressure. As seen in his fight vs. Stephen Fulton, he continually targeted the body of Stephen Fulton with the body jab.

This was a very intelligent tactic to use, as Inoue knew that over the rounds Fulton would eventually drop his guard just enough for him to attack up top.

See this action below:

@boxinglifeblog First up just want to say what an incredible performance by Naoya Inoue! Thought his jab was outstanding! Varied, sharp and powerful! Most importantly helped to set up that right hand over the top which was landing pretty much all night. Also felt he looked very composed defensively never really looked in trouble. While he also also cut off the ring really well at times. Just looked all round the complete fighter tonight! Hard not to call him p4p #1 atm. Spence or Crawford will have to do something special this weekend. Also crazy to think that he could become x2 undisputed champion by confirming his next fight with Tapales. Let me know what you thought of the fight. #inouefulton #naoyainoue #inoue ♬ original sound – Boxing Life | Jamie

This variation with his jab usually causes his opponent to have uncertainty about what combinations Inoue will throw or how powerful a shot will be made (more below). This is where the ‘Monster’ usually opens up for his favorite and finishing left hook.

Check out this great short video by toe2toe boxing below to see Inoue put his jab in action.

Variation of Combinations

As I mentioned above Inoue is very much looking to manipulate his opponent’s guard to create openings. The Japanese boxing star is brilliant at doing this, but he is even better at changing the variation of each combination he throws.

For example, he will change the sequence of where and how he attacks e.g. High, Low, High, or Low, High, Low, Low. Doing this simply confuses or causes panic in his competitors which results in them bringing their guard high or low. Either doesn’t matter for Inoue as he is amazingly accurate by throwing a body shot (low) or vertical left hook (high)

Here is an example of Inoue against Rodriguez doing body-to-head attacks, devastatingly ending in him.

Inoue's head-to-body shots take out Rodriguez

Subtle & Effective Defense

Inoue’s defense is another underrated piece of his skill set, although he has only been truly tested a couple, I feel any top competitor will struggle while he is in his prime.

Generally, he uses a high guard if he is up close against his opponent. While they throw shots, Inoue will subtly step backward or pivot so the punches are not as effective or clean. He is also very good at smothering his opponent up close too and catching shots with his arms which tends to result in him counterpunching them without being tied up.

Generally, you will see him use a Philly shell shoulder roll or something similar to Mike Tyson’s peek-a-boo or high guard when up close.

The head movement also plays a big part in Inoue’s overall defense, which is something he has worked on to avoid taking big shots.

In more recent years his footwork has played a big factor in him coming in and out of range. Making him a very hard opponent to hit cleanly at times.

Body Punching

Inoue Body Punching

We’ll finish off with what Inoue does best, finishing off his opponents to the body! Now all of what I have discussed above demonstrates how Inoue finds openings to his body. e.g. variation of punching high and low and creating angles through pressure.

We all know however Inoue loves to go to the solar plexus, kidneys, or liver. The liver shot in particular is one of the most painful shots you can receive in boxing if hit accurately and hard enough, causing immediate fatigue and unbearable pain – it’s no wonder he aims for this shot. Learn more here about why your body can’t handle it.

Here is a perfect example of Inoue when facing Donaire. He does this by changing his punch variation to create an opening for the body.

Inoue hurts Donaire to the body

I also think a big part of Inoue finding these openings is due to the pressure and fear factor he puts on his competitors in the ring which simply makes them rush their work, causing them to put their guard in the wrong position. Check out what his former opponent Antonio Nieves said to Boxing News on facing him:

“(Inoue) does several things brilliantly in there…His jab was fast and he knew not let me get set. He was a very strong and a very sharp puncher. He’s really a very skilled individual…he caught me with a good front of the liver shot while I was moving back.”

Antonio Nieves

See Nieves suffer this Livershot below:

Inoue's body punch on Nieves

To finish off looking at this area check out HaNZAgod’s video below on Inoue’s bodywork highlights to see all this action!


Naoya Inoue is without a doubt one of the most talented boxers today and at such a young age he has so much more to give in years to come. It will be interesting to see how many more weight divisions he can conquer, as I think he will be able to take his devastating power up the weight divisions with him.

For any up-and-coming amateur or even professional, I highly recommend you study the ‘Monster’, you can learn a lot from him in terms of how to add variations to your punching and create an opening for body shots.

Check out my blog on Naoya Inoue’s training regime here for more on ‘The Monster’.

I’ll leave you with the IGLU video below on how Inoue is the successor to the once-feared Golovkin.

If you would like more content like this check out my in-depth look at some other well-known boxing faces where I also analyze their fighting styles here.

For more boxing training and fitness advice and reviews check out the link here.





Bad Left Hook:

Jamie - Boxing Life

I'm a boxing analyst, amateur boxer, and blogger looking to pass on my boxing experiences and passion to anyone looking to learn or find out more about the sport of boxing. Whether that be gear reviews, fighter analysis, news, training tips, or my own personal journey, I'll be covering it on 'Boxing Life'.

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