Naoya Inoue and Paul Butler have agreed to terms for an undisputed bantamweight championship fight on Dec. 13 in Japan, according to ESPN’s Mike Coppinger.
It’s the fight that was expected for both, as Butler (34-2, 15 KO) made very clear his immediate interest in facing Inoue (23-0, 20 KO) following the latter’s destructive second round stoppage of Nonito Donaire on June 7, which saw Donaire unify the WBC, WBA, and IBF titles.
That leaves just the WBO belt, held by Butler after the sanctioning body stripped John Riel Casimero, elevating Butler from interim to full title status.
Coppinger indicates the fight will likely stream on ESPN+ for those in the United States, and of course would be an early morning fight given its location in Japan.
It’s a fight where Inoue, 29, will be a heavy favorite, but Butler, 33, has to be respected, and that’s not something Inoue has struggled to do in fights where he’s a heavy favorite. It has also led to a lot of demolition job-type results for the Japanese star, who has said repeatedly that his goal has been to go undisputed at 118, and Butler is the last opponent in his way of doing that.
If Inoue does win, a move up to 122 lbs would be expected in 2023.