Sultan sees chinks in Inoue armor

Dino Maragay – The Philippine Star

November 28, 2021 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Rising bantamweight contender Jonas Sultan also wants a piece of Japanese superstar Noaya Inoue, currently considered king of the stacked 118-pound division.

Sultan is seeking out tougher challenges following his empathic shocker over previously unbeaten prospect Carlos Caraballo, whom he dominated during their fight last Oct. 31 in New York City to win the WBO Intercontinental bantamweight title.

And Inoue, who holds the WBA and IBF 118-pound belts, is a prime target for Sultan.

“Malakas at magaling talaga si Inoue pero may kahinaan yan. Hindi naman siya lang ang malakas. Malakas din tayo (Inoue is really strong and good, but he still has weaknesses. It’s not only him who’s strong. I’m strong, too),” the 29-year-old fighter said during a press briefing arranged by his manager Junnie Navarro last Thursday.

Asked to elaborate on what he views as Inoue’s weakness, Sultan pointed out that the Japanese knockout artist is also hittable and can be hurt.

“Kailangan mo lang saktan yung kalaban mo para mag dalawang-isip siya (You just need to hurt the opponent so he’ll have second thoughts),” said Sultan, who is looking at the blueprint laid by WBC bantamweight champion and fellow Filipino Nonito Donaire Jr. when the latter gave Inoue a tough fight in 2019.

“Timing lang. Pag tinamaan ko yun, baka hilo. Kasi headhunter ako eh (It’s about timing. When I hit him, he might get dazed. Because I’m a headhunter),” added Sultan, whose 11 out of 18 wins came by way of knockout.

Sultan’s preference for Inoue comes as two of the other champions in the bantamweight division are Filipinos — Donaire and John Riel Casimero, who reigns as the WBO titlist. Donaire had his chance at Inoue while Casimero is still waiting for his own turn to face the heavy-handed Japanese.

“Kung pwede umiwas tayo sa Filipino para at least lahat ng Filipino umaangat. May mga foreigners naman na pwede,” said Navarro.

Sultan will soon resume training in the United States before heading to Japan to serve as a sparring partner for IBF junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas, who is booked to face Japanese WBO champion Kazuto Ioka in a unification bout on Dec. 31.

Navarro, whose family owns the Zamboanga Valientes basketball team in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, is eyeing a busy 2022 for Sultan with three or four fights.

He mentioned a possible rematch with Caraballo and a clash with former world title challenger Jason Moloney of Australia.