WBO bantamweight champion Paul Butler (34-2, 15 KOs) will be attempting to do the impossible by defeating the near-invincible IBF, WBA & WBC champ Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs) tonight for the undisputed 118-lb championship LIVE on ESPN+ at the Ariake Arena, in Tokyo, Japan.
The main portion of the Inoue vs. Butler card begins at 6:00 A.M. ET.
Boxing 247 will be giving live updates & results below.
Assuming Inoue chalks up another win to become the four-belt champion at 118, he’ll be moving up to 122 to attempt to accomplish the same feat in that weight class to become the undisputed champion.
You can argue that ‘Monster’ Inoue’s last opponent, Nonito Donaire, would do a number on Butler, and the Japanese star took him out in two rounds last June in their rematch. That shows you what Butler is up against tonight.
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“I never thought I’d fight for the undisputed to challenge for all the marbles,” said Paul Butler to iFL TV when asked if he ever thought he’d fight for the undisputed when he started his career.
“Unificaations, yeah. That was always a goal of mine. To get this reason, it’s partly the reason when I won the WBO title, and Donaire got beat by Naoya, I wanted to winner of that.
“That was one of the first things that I asked for. ‘Can we do the Naoya fight?’ They came back to us and said Japan. It wasn’t one of those things where it was ‘Can you?’ I just said, ‘Let’s go. Let’s go to Japan.’
“It wasn’t hard for me to say, ‘Yeah.’ Loads of fights fall through because of silly little things in contracts, but with me, it was just, ‘Yes, let’s go to Japan.’
“You’ve just got to believe in yourself, mate. Yes, he does punch hard, but I think that’s mainly to do with his timing and his accuracy. He obviously does punch hard.
“I’m not standing and saying, ‘I’ll take his shots and walk through them or whatever. He punches hard, and I know that if I switch off for a split second in that fight, then it could be all over.
“I’m sure at some point, he’s going to hit me. He does get a lot of his fighters out of there early doors. I’ve got to be switched on the first three or four rounds. He picks his shots really well to the head and body.
“He’s very good with his left hand. I keep touching on it. Going back to the Donaire fight. He showed him no respect. I think if I go in there with too much respect for him, I’m letting him do his own work.
“The more he touches you, the more he finds gaps, the quicker he’ll take you out. So I’ve got to go in there and get my game plan off that we’ve been working on.
“We’ve been working hard in the gym, so why shouldn’t I have a smile on my face? I’m confident; I’m quietly confident that I can go in there and upset. Let me grow into the fight, let me be where I want to be in the fight, and we’ll see where we go from there.
“I’m showing him no respect, but I’ve still got to be clever with that as well,” said Butler about Inoue.