Naoya Inoue has now vacated his WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO bantamweight world titles with the aim of winning belts in a new division.
The 118lbs king united all four belts as an undisputed champion last month – the culmination of a four-year-spell in the division.
Inoue’s world title campaign began in boxing’s second smallest division in just his sixth professional fight.
Back in early 2014, aged just 20, Inoue knocked out Adrian Hernandez to win the WBC light-flyweight (108lbs) world title.
He made one defence of this belt before making his first leap up in weight.
If he’d wanted to, Inoue could surely have won a world title in the flyweight (112lbs) division, but he instead took the opportunity to jump straight up to super-flyweight (115lbs).
Despite facing a bigger foe than he was used to, Inoue stopped Omar Narvaez in two rounds and won the WBO world title to become a two-weight king at age 21.
Sadly, he struggled to get the unification fights he craved in the division and, after seven successful defences, he moved up again three years later.
In his first fight at bantamweight (118lbs), he again proved straight away that he would have no issue dealing with bigger opponents and knocked out Jamie McDonnell in round one.
He then entered the World Boxing Super Series tournament for the division in which he beat Emmanuel Rodriguez and Nonito Donaire to emerge as unified IBF and WBA world champion – a three-weight king.
While the pandemic stunted his progress in 2020 and 2021, Inoue was determined to become undisputed with all four belts at bantamweight.
Last year, after Donaire won the WBC crown, Inoue rematched him and knocked him out to take it.
Then, in his most recent fight, he stopped WBO champion Paul Butler to achieve his goal as undisputed champion.
Now, with his work at bantamweight done, Inoue has announced that he’s vacating all four belts and moving up to super-bantamweight (122lbs).
His goal now is to become a four-weight world champion, and it’s even possible that he could look to be undisputed once again.
At present there are just two champions in the super-bantamweight division.
Uzbekistan’s Murodjon Akhmadaliev has the WBA and IBF belts, while America’s Stephen Fulton owns the WBC and WBO.
Both of these champions already have their next fights in the first quarter of 2023 planned out.
Akhmadaliev will make a mandatory defence against Marlon Tapales and Fulton will move up to featherweight (126lbs), while keeping his super-bantamweight belts, for a rematch with Brandon Figueroa.
It appears likely that Inoue may first take a fight against a contender to get used to the new division before then seeking one of the champions.