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Naoya Inoue vs Aran Dipaen official, December 14th in Tokyo

Wilfredo Mendez defends his minimumweight title against Masataka Taniguchi in the co-feature

Naoya Inoue v Michael Dasmarinas Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images
Patrick Stumberg is a freelance writer for SB Nation, first joining the network in 2011 before linking up with Bad Left Hook in 2015.

IBF/WBA bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue has officially announced his next bout, a December 14th clash with IBF #6 contender Aran Dipaen in Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan. The fight will serve as half of a world title doubleheader alongside Wilfredo “Bimbito” Mendez’s WBO mandatory minimumweight defense against Masataka Taniguchi.

It is, as we said when it was first revealed, a terrible fight. Dipaen (12-2, 11 KO) is an entirely undeserving challenger who only got his position in the rankings due to the IBF overvaluing its regional belts. It’s worth noting, however, that he wasn’t Inoue’s (21-0, 18 KO) first choice. He and his team reportedly tried to put together solid fights with Rau’shee Warren and Gary Antonio Russell, neither of which panned out, and Japan’s strict coronavirus protocols make bringing in overseas fighters a hard sell.

Thus, we get to watch “The Monster” brutalize someone again while crossing our fingers that he’ll meet Nonito Donaire or John Riel Casimero next year.

Puerto Rico’s Mendez (16-1, 6 KO) ends a 22-month layoff for the first defense of his title, which he took from Vic Saludar and defended against Axel Aragon Vega and Gabriel Mendoza. Taniguchi (14-3, 9 KO), who lost to Saludar in a previous bid for that title, currently holds the Japanese belt.

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