Naoya Inoue-Paul Butler Official For December 13th
Pound-for-pound star Naoya Inoue and Paul Butler will fight for the undisputed bantamweight championship on Dec. 13 at Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Ohashi Promotions announced on Thursday.
Fight Freaks Unite and Big Fight Weekend reported late last month that the bout was signed, but it was not immediately announced until the broadcast details were ironed out. The fight will stream in the early morning on ESPN+ in the United States and via Amazon Prime in Japan.
Three-division champion Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs), 29, of Japan, who holds the WBC, IBF and WBA belts, as well as The Ring title, and heavy underdog Butler (34-2, 15 KOs), 33, of England, who is the WBO titleholder, will vie to become the first undisputed 118-pound champion of the three- or four-belt era.
The last undisputed champion was Panama’s Enrique Pinder, when he unified the WBC and WBA titles in 1972.
“I want to etch my name in the history of boxing and change the history of the Japanese boxing world,” Inoue said in translated remarks during a news conference in Tokyo to announce the fight. “For the next two months, I want to do what I can and get in the ring. Butler is a very well-rounded fighter with no holes. The perception is that I will weaken him little by little with my own boxing and knock him out. I want to overwhelm him with my power to unify the four titles.”
Butler did not attend the news conference but issued a statement with his thoughts on a fight that will see him notch his first seven-figure payday.
“I’ve been boxing for over 20 years and all the successes and setbacks have led me here, to the biggest fight of my career, with the biggest prize in the sport on offer,” Butler said. “I am under no illusions as to the size of the task that faces me, but I have been going to bed dreaming of becoming the undisputed bantamweight champion of the world.”
Butler will be making his first title defense since winning the vacant interim belt by unanimous decision against Jonas Sultan in April and then being elevated when John Riel Casimero was stripped for failing to face him.
“The Monster” Inoue, who has also won titles at junior flyweight and junior bantamweight, unified three bantamweight titles in June, when he knocked out WBC titlist Nonito Donaire in the second round of their much-anticipated rematch of Inoue’s decision win in the 2019 fight of the year.
Butler, a two-time bantamweight titleholder, said he has respect for Inoue but plans on pulling the upset.
“Inoue is a phenomenal fighter but not one person should be underestimating me, my skills, or my resolve,” Butler said. “I am going to Japan to write my name into the history of our sport.”
Said Richard Schaefer, the president of Butler promoter Probellum: “It does not get any bigger than this, but Paul Butler is ready to carve out history, cause a seismic upset and return home as the undisputed world bantamweight champion.
“We all appreciate how good Naoya Inoue is. We have seen it repeatedly. But the people who really know Paul know what he is made of and the greater the challenge, the greater his performance will be.”