Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue returns to the ring on Boxing Day with a huge super bantamweight unification showdown against Marlon Tapales.
Inoue is the WBC and WBO champion, while Tapales holds the IBF and WBA belts, meaning the winner will secure all four belts in the division.
|What||Naoya Inoue v Marlon Tapales|
|Where||Ariake Arena, Tokyo|
|When||12:00, Tuesday 26th December 2023|
|How to watch||Sky Sports|
|Odds||Naoya Inoue 1/14, Marlon Tapales 8/1|
This 12-round super bantamweight unification showdown between Naoya Inoue and Marlon Tapales will take place on Boxing Day, Tuesday 26th December, in Tokyo.
The fight is due to start at around 9pm local time, which is around 12pm for fans in the UK.
The fight will take place at the Ariake Arena in the Koto ward of Tokyo, Japan. The Ariake Arena is a relatively new venue and was opened in February 2020.
The Ariake Arena is a multi-purpose facility and has hosted a number of sporting events, including volleyball and wheelchair basketball at the 2020 Summer Olympics as well as Japanese league basketball.
The venue has also hosted a number of concerts and the likes of Harry Styles, Charli XCX and Billie Eilish have all played at the Ariake Arena.
This will be Inoue’s third consecutive fight at the venue.
The fight will be broadcast by Sky Sports in the UK. Full details will be confirmed nearer the time.
Yes. This is a showdown that will unify the super bantamweight division as Inoue holds the WBC and WBO belts and Tapales is putting his IBF and WBA titles on the line.
Naoya Inoue has a perfect 25-0 record and 22 of his wins have come via stoppages, giving him a knockout rate of 88%.
The 30-year-old is ranked as the best active super bantamweight by The Ring and is currently number two on their pound-for-pound list, having previously been in top spot.
Inoue is a four-weight world champion and unified the bantamweight division before stepping up to his current weight class.
He made his debut in 2012 and claimed stoppages in his first three bouts before being taken the full distance in his fourth outing against Ryoichi Taguchi in a Japanese title fight.
‘Monster’ won a world title in just his sixth professional contest as he stopped two-weight world champion Adrián Hernández in the sixth round to claim the WBC light flyweight belt. He defended that title once before stepping up in weight class.
Inoue’s first bout at super flyweight came against WBO champion Omar Andres Narvaez. Navarez went into the clash with a 43-1-2 record and had a 28-1 record in world title fights.
However, Inoue, who was 7-0 at the time, claimed a sensational victory - sending his opponent to the canvas inside the first minute, before ending the contest in the second round.
The Japanese star defended that WBO belt seven times before stepping up in weight again to take on WBA bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell, with Inoue making a huge statement by ending that clash in the first round with some devastating left hooks.
After defeating McDonnell, Inoue competed in the 2018–19 World Boxing Super Series and claimed wins over Juan Carlos Payano, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Nonito Donaire to add the IBF belt to his collection.
He defended those titles three times before facing Donaire in a rematch after winning their first meeting via unanimous decision,
Inoue claimed a second round win over Donaire, winning the WBC title in the process and that win saw him briefly move to the top of The Ring’s pound-for-pound rankings. He then unified the division by stopping WBO champion Paul Butler in the 11th round.
He was last seen stopping the previously unbeaten Stephen Fulton in the eighth round to claim the titles he will defend when he takes on Tapales.
Marlon Tapales has a 35-3 record and 19 of his victories have come inside the distance. He is a two-weight world champion, having won the WBA bantamweight belt before stepping up to his current division.
The 31-year-old southpaw made his debut in 2008 and won his first eight fights before losing out to Brix Ray in a Filipino title fight. Tapales recovered from being knocked down in the fifth, but was stopped in the following round.
He responded to that defeat by winning his next 13 bouts, but then lost via a majority decision to David Sanchez in Mexico in his first appearance outside of his native Philippines.
Tapales won another seven fights, landing the WBO Asia Pacific bantamweight belt, and earned his first world title shot.
‘Nightmare’ overcame WBO bantamweight king Pungluang Sor Singyu in 2016 to claim the title, but was then unable to defend it in his next bout against Shohei Omori in Japan as he failed to make the weight, although he did secure a win in the 11th round.
The 31-year-old moved up to super bantamweight but fell short in his first title shot in the division, losing in the 11th round to Ryosuke Iwasa when challenging for the IBF belt.
The Filipino was last in action in April 2023 as he overcame the previously unbeaten Murodjon Akhmadaliev to land the IBF and WBA belts that will be on the line against Inoue.
The undercard is yet to be confirmed.