Naoya Inoue was today crowned undisputed bantamweight champion of the world, after an 11th round TKO victory over Paul Butler to add the Liverpudlian’s WBO strap to his WBC, IBF and WBA titles.
Inoue dominated proceedings from the opening bell in his native Japan, constantly throwing power punches on the front foot as Butler seemed content to simply try and survive.
However, this was not an unexpected dynamic for the fight to take and the Brit showed a solid defence and maintained his composure well whenever backed up by Inoue.
‘The Monster’ began to cut a frustrated figure as the contest went into its second half, attempting to goad Butler into letting his own offence go and even putting his hands behind his back à la Roy Jones Jr.
Butler, however, would not be sucked in and remained committed to his safety first approach. This was much to the dismay of some observers, none more so than ESPN’s Tim Bradley who described the contest as resembling a sparring session.
Inoue’s frustration eventually was channelled into more effective offensive output – with a predictably destructive result.
Bayed on by the adoring Tokyo crowd, the pound for pound star backed Butler into a corner and landed a sickening right hand to the body, before immediately following up with an 11 punch flurry that proved all too much for the wounded Butler.
On the floor and the fight visibly beaten out of him, ‘The Baby Faced Assassin’ realised his race was run and did not attempt to beat referee Bence Kovac’s count.
— IFL TV (@IFLTV) December 13, 2022
With a full set now under his belt at 118lbs, it’s on to pastures new for Inoue. A move up in weight seems inevitable, and a fight with unified super bantamweight world champion Stephen Fulton has long been heralded by hardcore fans as one of the best to made in the sport.
Inoue would be giving up a considerable size advantage against any 122lber, having started his professional career a remarkable four weight classes below. Still, it would take a brave gambler to bet against the 29 year old phenom on current form.