Naoya Inoue Accomplishes Goal of Becoming Undisputed at Bantamweight
The undisputed bantamweight championship was on the line when unified champ Naoya “Monster” Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) took on WBO champion Paul Butler (34-3, 15 KOs) in front of a packed Ariake Arena in Koto-Ku, Japan.
Inoue has become a favorite for hardcore boxing fans. After winning world titles at 108 and 115 pounds, the 29-year-old went up to bantamweight in 2018 and has been dominant. His only troublesome moment was a tough win over Future Hall Fame inductee Nonito Donaire in the finals of the WBSS Tournament in November 2019. However, in his last outing, the Monster had a rematch with Donaire and destroyed him in two rounds.
Now he took on Butler, who refused to lie down for anyone. A two-time champion, the 34-year-old came believing he was the better boxer and the more intelligent fighter. The WBO champ was on a mission to go to enemy territory and score a career win.
PLAYING IT SAFE
Butler spent the early rounds on the move, dressed in tight defense with his hands high. He was intent on not opening up and leaving himself vulnerable to head shots. As noted in the 3KingsBoxing.com fight preview, the WBO champion is an elusive and defensive-minded fighter. Inoue was stalking and doing a terrific job of punching underneath the elbows of his foe and landing vicious left hooks and right hands to the head.
In the middle rounds, Inoue switched up his mode of attack. He even fought with his hands down to force Butler to open up. But, the Brit wasn’t cooperating and not taking the bait. He refused to let his hands go and didn’t punch with any force.
NOT LETTING HIM SURVIVE
Regardless, Inoue was hellbent on not letting Butler see the final bell. Before the bell to start the eleventh, Inoue had a determined look in his eye. The Japanese superstar upped his pace and finally found the punches to put Butler down in the opening minute of the round. With Butler writhing in pain on the canvas, the referee called a halt to the contest.
Inoue is the first fighter to become the unified bantamweight champion in the four-belt era. With plans of moving up to 122, this would be his last fight at 118. Observers are already talking about a possible match-up between Inoue and reigning unified champion Stephen Fulton Jr.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.