Inoue vs Butler Starting @ 2:30am ET/ 11:30 pm PT on ESPN+ – Main event approx. 6am ET LIVE on ESPN+
Naoya Inoue has been in superb form this year, this in the one fight “The Monster” has had in a less than active 2022. The reigning WBA IBF WBC bantamweight champ took out Nonito Donaire inside two chilling rounds back in June, with Inoue showing had he has improved as a fighter, as a pure puncher, since the first time he rumbled with Nonito, the two going 12 hard, FOTY sessions in 2019.
Next up, will be a fight that Inoue has dubbed “Get The Fourth,” – as in the fourth remaining bantamweight belt that is out there, this the WBO title Britain’s Paul Butler currently holds. Inoue and Butler will clash next Tuesday in Japan, and most everyone feels Butler is facing an almost impossible task. Inoue, 23-0(20) looked absolutely devastating against Donaire and, in his recent open work-out, the 29 year old looked sharp, strong and, well, ready.
INOUE VS. BUTLER DATE, START TIME
- Date: Tuesday, December 13
- Main card: 7 p.m. JST / 10 a.m. GMT / 5 a.m. ET
- The fight will take place at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.
- Main event ringwalks (approx): 9:30 p.m. JST / 12:30 p.m. GMT / 6:30 a.m. ET
- ESPN+ will broadcast the fight in the U.S , a UK broadcaster has not been announced.
- The main card is set to get underway at 7 p.m. JST / 10 a.m. GMT / 5 a.m. ET with the main event ringwalks scheduled for 9:30 p.m. JST / 12:30 p.m. GMT / 7:30 a.m. ET.
But some people – Butler’s trainer Joe Gallagher among them; Gallagher somewhat offended at the way so many people have apparently written off his fighter, a boxer who can “fight on the front foot, on the back foot” – are giving Butler a genuine shot. And, interestingly, Inoue himself says he feels Butler may extend him the way Donaire was unable to do in their second fight.
“I’m in great shape and ready to exchange gloves with Butler,” Inoue told the media in Japan this week. “I may expect a rather longer fight than previously since Butler is also a technically excellent boxer.”
Paul Butler, 34-2(15), has been stopped just once, this by Zolani Tete, in a 2015 super flyweight title fight (TKO8). Since then, 34 year old Butler has been beaten only by common opponent Emmanuel Rodriguez, who decisioned the Cheshire man in a fight for the vacant IBF bantamweight title, this in 2018. Butler has won his last eight and he was elevated to full WBO champ when John Riel Casimero was unable to make weight to fight him.
Butler is no big puncher but he is, as Inoue acknowledges, a skilled boxer. Again, Inoue is a huge favourite to win next week, and plenty of people are predicting another quick KO win for “The Monster.” But Butler is full of what seems to be genuine confidence and belief. We could have ourselves an interesting, perhaps technical at times, fight in Tokyo.
For as long as the fight lasts.
One would have to be crazy to pick against Inoue, and not just in the Butler fight. Can anyone beat Inoue? Can anyone take, or, a smarter idea, avoid his power shots? The next man to attempt the mighty task is Paul Butler, and it seems he has already earned the respect of Inoue.
INOUE BUTLER FIGHT CARD
- Naoya Inoue vs. Paul Buter; For the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO world bantamweight titles
- Yoshiki Takei vs. Bruno Tarimo; Super bantamweight
- Andy Hiraoka vs. Min Ho Jung; Super lightweight
- Takuma Inoue vs. Jake Bornea; Featherweight
- Satoshi Shimizu vs. Landy Cris Leon; Super featherweight
- Hironori Miyake vs. Peter McGrail; Featherweight