We analyse the credentials and statistics of Naoya Inoue and Marlon Tapales as the super-bantamweight world champions get set to collide in Japan on Boxing Day with all of the 122lbs titles on the line.
For most, Boxing Day is usually spent on the sofa, watching movies and eating leftovers.
This year, Ohashi Promotions are serving up a belated Christmas cracker for boxing fans as Naoya Inoue (2/25) and Marlon Tapales () battle it out to crown an undisputed super-bantamweight champion.
There are more than just belts at stake, as the winner will likely be crowned Fighter of the Year, but who will prevail?
Let’s have a look at the tale of the tape…
|25-0 (22 KOs)
|37-3 (19 KOs)
|Won - (TKO) v Stephen Thompson (July 2023)
|Won - (SD) v Murodjon Akhmadliev (April 2023)
Naoya Inoue ended 2022 by becoming the undisputed bantamweight world champion... a year on, he is looking to repeat the feat one division higher!
While many fighters look to take a fight or two to acclimatise to a new weight class, ‘The Monster’ has consistently gone straight into world title fights.
He captured his first major belt in 2014, when stopped Adrain Hernandez to win the WBC light-flyweight title, in just his sixth fight.
One successful defence followed before the Japanese fighter moved up eight pounds to take on, long-reigning WBO super-flyweight champion, Omar Narvaez.
Despite being 39-years-old, Narvaez was still a dominant world champion, capable of making any fighter look bad. However, Inoue made a statement by dispatching of the veteran in the second round.
Following seven subsequent victories at 115lbs, Inoue jumped up to bantamweight to face WBA ‘Regular’ champion, Jamie McDonnell.
Some wondered whether Inoue would carry the power, which had been some devastating in lower divisions, at 118lbs. Inoue answered the doubters by halting the Englishman in the opening round.
‘The Monster’ then entered the World Boxing Super Series tournament. Inoue was victorious, defeating Nonito Donaire in a Fight of the Year contender, in the final. His success earned him the WBA ‘Super’ and IBF straps.
A rematch with Donaire, two-and-a-half years later, saw Inoue win decisively, ending the bout in the second frame.
The 30-year-old secured his undisputed status by stopping Paul Butler in 11th session to add the WBO belt to his collection.
Earlier this year he moved up to featherweight to battle WBC and WBO champion, Stephen Fulton.
The American was expected to provide the stiffest test of Inoue’s career, but the Japanese fighter was a level above and secured victory in the seventh round.
Now, Inoue looks to become only the second male fighter in the four-belt era to become undisputed in two weight classes.
If history is anything to go by, he will likely succeed.
|Occasionally moves back in straight lines
|Can leave his head on the centre line when punching
Despite being a significant underdog, Marlon Tapales is by no means a bad fighter. In fact, he is a very good one.
The wide odds available are less a reflection on the ability of the two-weight, unified world champion as they are on the talent of the man in the opposite corner.
Naoya Inoue may well be the best boxer on the planet. The Japanese boxer is blessed with a dangerous combination of speed, power and balance.
As we have seen before, Inoue has dispatched of accomplished titlists with ease, across four different weight classes.
However, the reputation of ‘The Monster’ is unlikely to deter Tapales. The Filipino captured the WBA and IBF super-bantamweight titles by defeating Murodjon Akhmadaliev as a 7/2 underdog and will be confident of pulling off another shock result.
Against Akhmadaliev, the southpaw was not overawed by his unbeaten opponent, who was regarded by some observers as the best in the 122lbs division.
The 31-year-old was able to nullify the offense of the Uzbek by utilising his hand speed and shot variety early in the contest.
While Akhmadaliev came on strong late in the fight, Tapales was able to survive to claim the belts.
Will Tapales by able to pull off a second shock victory to complete a remarkable year?
Only time will tell.
|Tires late in fights
|Open to counters over low lead hand
|Holds his feet for too long
Full Fight Markets
All odds displayed within this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to fluctuation.