Naoya Inoue stopped the brave Marlon Tapales in Tokyo to become a two-weight undisputed world champion and the first man to win four major titles in the super-bantamweight division.
Inoue didn’t rush in the first, working behind his jab and peppering Tapales up close. The southpaw from the Philippines got busier in the second and third.
Tapales chose to fight fire with fire in the fourth, having some success but ultimately only serving to open himself up to Inoue’s counters, which were thrown with extreme spite.
A left hook wobbled Tapales and backed him onto the ropes. The following three-punch combination from Inoue put him down, but he made the count and saw the bell.
The Filipino kept trading into the fifth and gave a very good account of himself but was caught with some sharp uppercuts and body shots, which were clearly starting to take effect.
The valiant Tapales pushed the action to start the sixth, again scoring with thudding shots. Where he suffered was his defence – Inoue found his way through the guard at will and ended the round strongly.
An impressive seventh for Tapales, who was behind but not making it easy for ‘The Monster.’ The action became more considered in the eighth, with large portions focused on the battle of the front foot and jab.
Inoue managed to get his combos off in the ninth, and scored some impressive body shots. Tapales came out notably tired in the tenth, and a straight right hand in the first minute sent him onto the ropes before he took a knee. He crawled slowly towards centre ring but couldn’t make the count. A valiant effort, but Inoue’s power took its toll.
With that, the 30-year-old makes his case for Fighter of the Year and, pound-for-pound, the very best in the world.