As expected, WBC/WBO champion Naoya Inoue and IBF/WBA champion Marlon Tapales will battle it out for undisputed super bantamweight supremacy on December 26th at Tokyo’s Ariake Arena.
ESPN+ hosts the Stateside broadcast. Though the press release doesn’t say anything about the undercard, BoxRec lists a great domestic bantamweight clash between Seiya Tsutsumi and Kazuki Anaguchi, plus Kanamu Sakama vs John Paul Gabunilas and super lightweight Andy Hiraoka’s latest pointless squash match against BoxRec’s 444th-ranked super featherweight.
Inoue (25-0, 22 KO) somehow exceeded the astronomical expectations we’d placed on him by not just beating but outright destroying Stephen Fulton Jr in July, toppling the division’s no. 1 in just his first appearance at the weight. He’s now ended 14 of his last 15 fights inside the distance and never lost more than two rounds on any scorecard since his epic first battle with Nonito Donaire.
Should he emerge victorious, he’ll have gone from undisputed bantamweight champion to undisputed super bantamweight champion in the span of 378 days. Most will see that as a forgone conclusion and not without reason, but Tapales (37-3, 19 KO) paid his dues to get here. A former bantamweight champ who lost his title on the scales, he rebounded from a thrashing at the hands of Ryosuke Iwasa to beat Hiroaki Teshigawara in a final eliminator and subsequently upset Murodjon Akhmadaliev.
He almost certainly won’t shell up the way Paul Butler did, at least.
Man, imagine if we get Fury vs Usyk and this in the span of three days, then Juan Francisco Estrada vs Kazuto Ioka a week later. What a hell of a way to end the year.