In the wake of Naoya Inoue's second world title unification, boxing fans are waiting to see the Japanese star's next move.

The man they call "Monster" reasserted his claim as the world's best pound-for-pound boxer by becoming undisputed super bantamweight champion with a 10th-round stoppage of Marlon Tapales on Tuesday at Ariake Arena, roughly a year after he achieved the feat at bantamweight.

The 30-year-old Kanagawa Prefecture native later indicated he would remain at super bantam for the time being and could be set to defend his unified crown as early as May.

Japanese boxer Naoya Inoue (L) raises his fist after leaving the ring following his win over Marlon Tapales of the Philippines in their four-belt super bantamweight title unification bout at Ariake Arena in Tokyo on Dec. 26, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Mexico's Luis Nery is rumored to be the opponent and the matchup could be an especially big draw for fans who remember his two controversy-shrouded victories against beloved Japanese southpaw Shinsuke Yamanaka, the second of which prompted Yamanaka's retirement in March 2018.

Inoue did not mention any opponent by name in his post-match interview but suggested the fight was in the works.

"We'll negotiate and see whether we can realize the rumored bout in May. We want to make those kinds of matches happen that excite the fans," he said.

Uzbekistan's Murodjon Akhmadaliev and rising Australian talent Sam Goodman have also been mentioned as potential matches for Inoue, who stressed he was ready to fight anyone arranged by his boxing gym president Hideyuki Ohashi.

"I'll just give my all to the bouts that get decided. I entrust Ohashi-san with matchmaking and I'll look forward to whatever bouts I get," Inoue said.

Despite being the overwhelming favorite among bookmakers over Tapales, Inoue did not have it all his own way against the 31-year-old Filipino, who fought back bravely after recovering from a fourth-round knockdown.

"It (a result by decision) did cross my mind," Inoue said. "I was on the front foot for so much of the fight, so I wanted to knock him out. But getting a knockout isn't as simple as pushing for one, so I was trying to proceed calmly."

Japanese boxer Naoya Inoue poses during a press conference after defeating Marlon Tapales of the Philippines in their four-belt super bantamweight title unification bout at Ariake Arena in Tokyo on Dec. 26, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Inoue, also a former world champion at light flyweight and super flyweight, improved to 26-0 with 23 knockouts with the victory against Tapales, drawing superlatives from members of the boxing fraternity in Japan and abroad.

Former world lightweight champion Takanori Hatakeyama said the hard-hitting Inoue possessed a talent rarely seen in the sport.

"Naoya Inoue is a special, once-in-a-century phenomenon. He's a global superstar," Hatakeyama said.

The sentiment was echoed by legendary American boxing promoter Bob Arum.

"Naoya Inoue is a special fighter, among the very best I've had the privilege of promoting," Arum posted on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter.

Related coverage:

Boxing: Inoue KOs Tapales, becomes 2nd man to unify 2 divisions