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Naoya Inoue v Marlon Tapales Tips from Rob Tebbutt

Our resident boxing expert Rob Tebbutt previews the mammoth Boxing Day showdown between one of boxing's pound-for-pound superstars Naoya Inoue and Marlon Tapales, with all four of the super-bantamweight titles on the line.

Naoya Inoue v Marlon Tapales
Tebbutt's Tips:

Naoya Inoue 'Between Rounds 5 - 8' @ 6/4
Naoya Inoue 'Between Rounds 7 - 12' @ 7/5

Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue closes the curtain for the calendar year as he seeks to become the undisputed super-bantamweight champion against Filipino Marlon Tapales in Tokyo.

A win for Inoue would be the latest achievement in a long-list of accolades for the 30-year-old. Already a four weight-world belt-holder, ‘The Monster’ is considered by many to be one of the world’s finest pound-for-pound fighters and enters Tuesday's dust-up as a red-hot favourite.

Astonishingly, a win over Tapales would be Inoue’s second undisputed championship title win in just over 12 months after dispatching of Paul Butler in 11 rounds just over a year ago.

Flawless thus far as a professional, Inoue has consistently fought the best competition available to him. In fact, an incredible 20 of his 25 contests have been for a version of a world title, with him recording a perfect 20-0, 18 KOs record in championship bouts.

Blessed with speed, power and ring intelligence, Inoue has developed into the complete fighter. In his first bout at super-bantamweight in July, a one-sided drubbing of then unbeaten unified champion Stephen Fulton sent shockwaves throughout the boxing world. It was, however, no surprise to those who have followed Inoue’s career from his first world title win in just his sixth professional bout.

No sooner after Fulton’s belts were being strapped to Inoue’s waist, his next foe greeted him in the ring: Marlon Tapales.

Tapales, a 31-year-old southpaw from the Philippines, had picked up the IBF/WBA titles in a shock split decision win over Murodjon Akhmadaliev in April. 

Unlike Inoue, Tapales’ career had been somewhat unspectacular to that point. Though he was stopped earlier in his career back in his homeland, Tapales was perhaps most-known for an 11th round TKO loss to another Japanese fighter, Ryosuke Iwasa, in an IBF Interim title bout back in November 2019. That was, of course, until he upset Akhmadaliev.

Despite that win, there is nothing to suggest Tapales can defeat Inoue - and I think that’s reflected fairly in the odds.

The question is: how quickly will Inoue (pictured above) get the job done?

Well, despite the gulf in class - which I stress is significant - it’s worth noting that Inoue has developed into a slightly more patient fighter in recent years, choosing to dissect and disarm his opponents before taking them out in the mid-to-late rounds. In fact, of his last seven victories, only two of them have come before the halfway point.

It really does depend on how both men choose to approach the fight. Against Akhmadaliev, Tapales was able to rack up a lead by being the busier fighter: against a devastating counter-puncher like Inoue, that could spell disaster early on.

If, as I expect, Tapales plans on keeping things tight - as Britain’s Paul Butler did in his losing effort last December - then this could go into the later rounds. Inoue has shown he is content to dominate behind the jab and pry for openings and, despite him being a huge favourite, this is a big fight for his legacy. Becoming a two-weight undisputed champion is an extraordinary feat and he won’t want any slip-ups with his big money years ahead of him.

I expect Inoue to chip away at Tapales over the course of the first three or four rounds before starting to rip away with in the middle rounds. How much punishment Tapales can withstand is anyone’s guess, but he is more experienced at the weight and will likely have a decent size advantage in the ring on fight night. This should allow him to absorb more shots, but against a puncher like Inoue, it’s only a matter of time.

I like the look of Inoue in the middle rounds (Between Rounds 5 - 8) at 6/4, and also in the second half of the fight (Between Rounds 7 - 12' at 7/5.

I expect Inoue to totally outbox and dismantle Tapales and really can see no case for an upset whatsoever - but for boxing fans, what greater gift than a date with The Monster on Boxing Day morning?

Naoya Inoue v Marlon Tapales

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