Moments ago in Tokyo, Japan, Naoya Inoue scored a tenth round KO win over a very game Marlon Tapales to unify all four belts at super-bantamweight. Inoue landed a crushing right hand to the head that froze and then dropped Tapales and the fight was over.
Time was 1:02 of round 10.
“Monster” Inoue, now 26-0(23) added the IBF and WBA world titles to the WBC and WBO belts he entered the ring with. Tapales, who perhaps tested Inoue harder than anyone since Nonito Donaire in their 2019 fight, falls to 37-4(19).
Inoue boxed brilliantly today, and his lethal punching ability was also on display. But this was no easy or straightforward fight for the 30 year old, with southpaw Tapales of the Philippines really coming to win. In the second round, an Inoue jab seemed to score a knockdown, but referee Celestino Ruiz ruled that Tapales had merely slipped. By the fourth it was clear Tapales was not here to lay down, the fight becoming a testing affair for both men. Tapales, though, was sent to the canvas near the end of the fourth, this from a three-punch combo to the head dropped him.
Round five was an action round, with both men letting their hands go. Tapales was as good as his pre-fight word of coming to Japan to take the belts! But Inoue really is a special talent, and in the 6th round he began to break his man down. Inoue used his jab to fine effect, while his body shots were painful to watch. Tapales was showing real heart in there.
There were some close rounds in the middle of the fight, but Inoue was doing far more damage than his 31 year old rival, and we fans were being treated to another great showcase from Inoue. Tapales was being driven back and he was being punished in the ninth round. Then, in the tenth, Inoue closed the show in quite brutal fashion, his thunderous right hand draining Tapales of anything and everything he had left. Tapales went down and he was unable to get back up, even though he was not knocked clean out. Both men played their part in a very good fight today, but Inoue was just better in every department. Inoue closes out 2023 on top of the world, now having unified two weight divisions.
Inoue is the pick for many people as far as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet right now, and those fans who watched “The Monster” go to work today saw why.