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Japan's reigning super-bantamweight world champion, Naoya Inoue, revealed that an initial setback ignited his determination after he defeated Mexico's Luis Nery in the sixth round to retain his titles at the Tokyo Dome on Monday.

Approximately 43,000 spectators filled the renowned venue for the first boxing event held there since February 1990, when 42-1 underdog James "Buster" Douglas stunned the undefeated heavyweight champion Mike Tyson with a knockout, marking one of the sport's most significant upsets.

Another monumental upset appeared imminent when Nery sent the undefeated "Monster" Inoue to the canvas in the first round with a powerful left hand, with all four championship belts at stake. However, Inoue quickly recovered and retaliated by knocking down his opponent in the subsequent round. He then repeated the feat by sending Nery to the canvas once more in the fifth round, ultimately delivering the finishing blow with a right hook in the sixth.

"It was a great feeling to knock him down but how about that surprise in the first round?" said the 31-year-old. "As a boxer, when that happens to you it fires you up. It gave me a lot of energy." Inoue chuckled in disbelief as he settled down at the conclusion of an astonishing first round.

However, the Japanese fighter let out a yell as he rose from his stool to begin the second round and swiftly equalised the match by flooring Nery with a precisely timed left punch. "From the moment I went down, I was able to recover calmly," said Inoue. "I think it was precisely because I went down that I was able to fight the way I did."

Japan boxing sensation Inoue defeated Mexico's Nery to retain his super-bantamweight titles. GETTY IMAGES
Japan boxing sensation Inoue defeated Mexico's Nery to retain his super-bantamweight titles. GETTY IMAGES

In the subsequent rounds, Inoue showcased his formidable punching power once again, systematically dismantling Nery with his precision and aggression. In the fifth round, he sent his opponent to the canvas with a powerful left hook, and in the sixth, he delivered the decisive blow, securing victory by technical knockout.

Inoue improved his record to 27-0, with 24 victories coming by knockout. He announced that his team would initiate discussions for his next title defense against Australian Sam Goodman, with the bout expected to take place in September. The boxers described the fight as "a great experience."

"Fighting at Tokyo Dome gave me a lot of power, but there was also pressure," he added. This marked Inoue's initial title defense since attaining the undisputed super-bantamweight world champion title in December. He joins the exclusive club of athletes who have attained undisputed world champion status in two different weight divisions since the introduction of the four-belt era in 2004, with American Terence Crawford being the inaugural member.

Nery, a former two-division world champion, made his first appearance in Japan since being stripped of his bantamweight world title in 2018 due to his failure to meet the weight requirement for a bout in the country. Subsequently, he received a ban from competing in Japan, but the country's boxing commission granted him permission to face Inoue.

The boxer faced a chorus of boos from the Tokyo Dome audience during his introduction. Following the bout, the 29-year-old's record now stands at 35-2, with 27 knockouts.