Connect with us


With a 10th-Round KO, Naoya Inoue Becomes the Undisputed Super Bantamweight World Champ

Unbeaten Naoya Inoue demonstrated his superior boxing skills in his title fight against Marlon Tapales, utilizing a potent combination of speed and power.



Naoya Inoue
Naoya Inoue punches Marlon Tapales in the 10th round of their undisputed super bantamweight title fight on December 26, 2023, at Tokyo's Ariake Arena. (ⒸSANKEI)

Read the full story on SportsLook - With a 10th-Round KO, Naoya Inoue Becomes the Undisputed Super Bantamweight World Champ

Tuesday night's fight was dubbed "The Monster" vs "The Nightmare," paying homage to the Japanese and Filipino fighters' nicknames. Meeting expectations with laser-focused precision, Naoya Inoue pounded Marlon Tapales with power and purpose.

And eventually, the moment of truth arrived in their undisputed super bantamweight world title fight. To be precise, at 8:45 PM JST on December 26. 

In the 10th round, Inoue recorded a knockout, improving to 26-0 (with 23 KOs) in his remarkable boxing career.

What was the decisive factor in the fight at Ariake Arena in Tokyo?

Inoue's hammer blow, a dynamic straight right, floored his Filipino opponent with 1:02 remaining in the 10th. Tapales fell backward into the ropes and staggered trying to get up. He didn't beat the 10 count. Thus, American referee Celestino Ruiz declared the bout was over.

Naoya Inoue
Naoya Inoue reacts after knocking out Marlon Tapales in the 10th round. Referee Celestino Ruiz signals the fight is over. (ⒸSANKEI)

The 30-year-old Inoue retained his WBC and WBO title belts, and the Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, native snatched Tapales' IBF and WBA titles.


As a result, Inoue became an undisputed world champion in two weight classes in back-to-back years, with both triumphs occurring at the same venue. 

Naoya Inoue's Journey to Becoming a Two-Time Undisputed World Champion

Inoue is only the second boxer of the four-belt era (since 2004) to accomplish the feat. American Terence Crawford was the first, unifying the welterweight division in July. Before that, he became the undisputed super lightweight champ in 2017.

One of the world's greatest superstar athletes of the 21st century, Inoue's lethal combination of speed, power and hand-eye coordination along with exceptional physical fitness and outstanding ring generalship have carried him to great heights since he made his pro debut on October 2, 2012. 

In that fight, he defeated Filipino Crison Omayao by TKO in the fourth round at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall.

On December 13, 2022, Inoue became the undisputed bantamweight world champion, beating Britain's Paul Butler via an 11th-round TKO.

Naoya Inoue
Naoya Inoue, the undisputed super bantamweight world champion, poses for photographs. (KYODO)

Inoue Speaks About His Win over Tapales

Inoue is now a four-division world champion, after previously collecting title belts in the aforementioned bantamweight weight class plus super flyweight and light flyweight. 

Reacting to his victory in his 21st consecutive world title fight, in his post-fight interview in the ring, Inoue admitted "I am so relieved (to win)."

He added that he was "very happy."


Tapales, who fell to 37-4, was knocked down at the end of the fourth round as a potent mix of punches impacted his balance. After that, he seemed to be energized after dropping to the canvas and fighting with more effective straightforward tactics. 

Naoya Inoue
In the fourth round, Naoya Inoue's aggressive punching produced the first knockdown of the fight. (ⒸSANKEI)

Inoue later noted he was a bit more cautious after the knockdown, recognizing Tapales' sense of urgency.

Asked if he fought overly aggressive in the seventh and eighth rounds, eyeing a knockout, Inoue explained his approach.

"I have to be smart, I have to make him accumulate damage," stated Inoue, who won his first super bantamweight fight on July 25, also at Ariake Arena, conquering Stephen Fulton, the WBC and WBO titleholder, via an eighth-round TKO.

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.


Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven


Our Partners