Naoya Inoue has won world titles in three weight classes already, but he’s never gone undisputed. On Tuesday in Tokyo, he tries to change that, as he faces Paul Butler for all four major world titles in the bantamweight division.
Inoue (23-0, 20 KO) is an enormous favorite, but can WBO titlist Butler (34-2, 15 KO) shock not only this world but every parallel universe that may be connected in some way?
Scott Christ (89-39)
I have huge respect for him going, “Absolutely, I want the best, most daunting fight there is for me, and I’ll go on the road to do it, no problem,” but I just see absolutely no way other than some injury TKO for Paul Butler to win this fight. There is nothing he does as well as Inoue, let alone better. Inoue KO-3
Wil Esco (103-25)
I expect nothing less from the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world in Naoya Inoue than a dominant showing here against Paul Butler. Whatever Butler does well, Inoue does better, and I don’t really need to put much more thought into it unless Inoue turns out to have some grave physical condition that we’re all unaware of. Inoue is much technically polished, faster, and hits a helluva lot harder, and I think he gets Butler out of there by the middle rounds. Inoue TKO-5
John Hansen (102-26)
Plenty of guys in Paul Butler’s situation would have just taken a light defense of their new belt and waited out Naoya Inoue’s move to another weight class. Instead, Butler walked right into the monster’s lair, literally, to take on Inoue in Japan. It’s a shame more fighters aren’t built like Paul Butler in the courage department.
Unfortunately for Butler, almost zero fighters are built like Naoya Inoue in the every-other-aspect-of-boxing departments. Everyone on staff here ranks Inoue as either the best or second best boxer on Earth, and it’s rare to find anyone who deserves to be taken remotely seriously that disagrees. Butler is brave, but Inoue is a marvel. He’s the sort of fighter that turns the old cliche about boxing having levels into a vivid display illustrating the presence of a level much higher than mere “world champion.”
I hope Paul Butler gets a hearty paycheck, and a reserved place at the front of the line to fight for a belt once Inoue vacates them all and moves up in weight. He deserves both. What he doesn’t deserve is the beating that’s likely coming. But, it’s coming all the same. Inoue KO-6
Patrick Stumberg (103-25)
What does Butler do here? What does Paul Butler, Perfectly Serviceable Contender, do to a guy who’s unfairly good? “The Monster” seems like he had twice as many points available at character creation as everyone else; if you removed his speed, his power, or his boxing ability while keeping the other two, he’d still be above the majority of his peers, Butler included. I don’t care how many belts you slap around Butler’s waist, a light-punching, moderately quick technician is not going to be the plucky shonen protagonist who fells the unstoppable kaiju.
Again, Butler is not a bad fighter. He’s just not a generational talent, and he’s up against a guy who once beat a generational talent with half his face broken. Prepare for the “Monster” Mash. Inoue KO-3