Naoya Inoue v Paul Butler: Fight Preview & Prediction

Which Fighter Wins Undisputed Honors at Bantamweight?

Naoya Inoue and Paul Butler promote their undisputed fight
Naoya Inoue and Paul Butler promote their undisputed fight | Credit: Yuichi YAMAZAKI/AFP

The New Undisputed Bantamweight Champ: Naoya Inoue or Paul Butler?


The undisputed bantamweight title is at stake on December 13 when unified champion Naoya “Monster” Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs) faces WBO 118-pound champ Paul Butler (34-2, 15 KOs). It will take place at the Ariake Arena in Koto-Ku, Japan, on ESPN Plus at 2:30 AM EST.

A BATTLE OF CONTRASTING STYLES

A three-division world champion, Inoue is arguably the best fighter in the lower-weight divisions. Currently ranked third in the 3Kings Boxing Top Ten fighter rankings, the 29-year-old resident of Yokohama, Japan is a complete fighter.

He is a technically sound, well-schooled craftsman whose overall boxing skills are often slept-on. But, his combination of speed and ability to hurt you with one shot is what captivates observers. Inoue is one of the most explosive fighters in the world.

To defeat Butler, the Japanese superstar must dictate the pace. Butler is very fleet of foot. So, Inoue has to use excellent footwork to cut off the ring and not give the WBO champ space to maneuver around the ring. The unified champ needs to utilize his jab to neutralize the jab of Butler. If Inoue wins the battle of the jabs, gets to Butler’s body, and puts some hurt on his foe, it’s hard to envision him losing.

But, he’s fighting a Butler who comes in determined to win. A two-division champion himself, the 34-year-old from Cheshire, England is more of a pure boxer. His best assets are his jab and legs.

The Brit must avoid Inoue’s vaunted power, use the jab early and often, and frustrate Inoue with his movement. To do this, Butler needs to be in not good, but great shape. It would be even better were he to land some punches that would earn Inoue’s respect. The more this is a slowed-down, thinking man’s fight, the more it aides Butler’s chances of victory.

PREDICTION

The winner of this bout becomes the first fighter to become an undisputed bantamweight champion in the era of the four major sanctioning bodies. You have the dynamism of Inoue versus a witty boxer.

Because of his movement, Butler will purposely be cautious in the early rounds to avoid the power. But, here’s a sobering reality: Inoue is on par with his rival when in the skills department. Fighting in front of his adoring Japanese fans, the Monster will figure out what to do and find a way to land on a consistent basis. Once he finds his groove, Butler will have no answers. Inoue’s speed and power will come into play and ultimately knocks Butler out in round six.

By: Michael Wilson Jr.

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About Mike W.2014 Articles
Mike is the host of boxing podcast "Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report" and is a Senior Writer for 3kingsboxing.com.