Unified bantamweight king Naoya Inoue did exactly what we expected him to do in Tokyo this morning, breaking down and ultimately finishing challenger Aran Dipaen over eight rounds.
Between other IBF contenders being occupied and top-two WBA challengers Rau’shee Warren and Gary Antonio Russell reportedly declining the fight, IBF #6 Dipaen (12-3, 11 KO) was essentially the highest-ranked challenger Inoue (22-0, 19 KO) could feasibly fight. It didn’t do Dipaen much good, as Inoue used his signature blend of suffocating pressure and murderous body punches to steadily break him down until a vicious left hook froze Dipaen in place and sent the referee into action in the eighth.
It’s unquestionably been a disappointing year of competition for Inoue, but the bright side is that there are no mandatory obligations hanging over his head going into 2022. He’s made clear that he wants either Nonito Donaire or John Riel Casimero this coming spring; my guess is that it’ll be Donaire, who came out of last weekend’s knockout win over Reymart Gaballo unscathed. Casimero might be in hot water with the WBO, who’ve ordered him to show proof of the medical issues he claims forced him to withdraw from a planned defense against Paul Butler.
The co-feature saw a world title change hands, as Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10 KO) overpowered Wilfredo “Bimbito” Mendez (16-2, 6 KO) for the WBO minimumweight title. Taniguchi, who’d previously fallen well short in a 2017 title bid against Vic Saludar, reportedly used consistent aggression and pressure to drop Mendez in the second, force Mendez to eat a point deduction for excessive holding, survive a late rally, and put him away in the 11th.
Really not a good year for Puerto Rico in the ring, huh?