One of the top pound for pound fighters in the sport will go for another undisputed title in late December. This, as Japan’s Naoya “The Monster” Inoue will put his newly won unified WBC and WBO 122 lb. titles on the line in a battle with WBA/IBF titleholder Marlon Tapales of the Philippines.
The bout will take place in Tokyo on December 26th and gives the chance for Inoue to become undisputed at junior featherweight a little over year after becoming undisputed, four belt, bantamweight world champ.
Wednesday morning saw Top Rank Boxing announce that Inoue-Tapales will stream in the USA live Tuesday morning, the day after Christmas, on ESPN+
From their release:
“The undisputed junior featherweight showdown on Tuesday, December 26 will be at Ariake Arena in Tokyo. Inoue, already a four-division world champion, seeks to become the second fighter to earn four-belt undisputed status in a second division.
“The sensational Naoya Inoue astounds with every performance. We are witnessing an all-time great fighter in the prime of his career,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “He has a very difficult task at hand on December 26 against a tough, powerful Filipino champion in Marlon Tapales, but I am confident ‘The Monster’ will pass this test with flying colors.”
Inoue (25-0, 22 KOs) is 20-0 with 18 knockouts in world title fights since defeating Adrian Hernandez in 2014 for the WBC light flyweight crown. He then moved up two divisions, knocked out then-WBO junior bantamweight world champion Omar Narvaez, and defended the title on seven occasions. At bantamweight, Inoue became the division’s first undisputed champion in the four-belt era, collecting each title as he defeated Emmanuel Rodriguez, Nonito Donaire twice and Paul Butler over a three-year span. After vanquishing WBC/WBO junior featherweight world champion Stephen Fulton via eighth-round TKO in July, Inoue plans to become the first undisputed four-belt champion at 122 pounds.
Tapales (37-3, 19 KOs) is a 40-fight veteran who debuted in July 2008…. Tapales returns following his biggest win to date, April’s upset split decision against Murodjon Akhmadaliev to capture the WBA and IBF titles.”
Inoue’s impressive wins
As the release mentions, Inoue is bidding for supremacy at 122 lb. just five months after demolishing the American Fulton by eighth round TKO back in July. In that bout, “the Monster” dominated the Philadelphian with superior power and speed, despite it being his first bout at the higher weight class. That win secured two of the titles for him at junior featherweight, while Tapales, who is little known in the U.S., has the other two belts.
That’s not the case for Inoue, as Top Rank Boxing has regularly featured him in headlining fights in the U.S. (2020 and 2021 in Las Vegas) on live ESPN and also, showing broadcasts of his Japanese world title fights too on ESPN+, as this one will be.
Prior to beating the Brit Butler in December of 2022, Inoue also scored a devastating second round TKO in his June 2022 rematch with the future hall of famer Donaire. Their first bout was an all out slugfest that Inoue eventually won a unanimous decision on, however, fight two was over with two quick knockdowns and a barrage of punches stopping the “Filipino Flash.”
Now, a fellow Filipino in Tapales will try his hand at lasting with Inoue, who has already assembled one of the most prominent Japanese world title resume’s ever and he’s only 30 years old.