Naoya Inoue will finally get his opportunity to become undisputed world Bantamweight champion, as a fight with Britain’s Paul Butler has officially been confirmed.
Inoue, who holds the WBA, WBC and IBF world titles, will take on WBO champion Paul Butler on December 13that the Ariake Arena in Tokyo in front of 15,000 baying Japanese fans.
Butler picked up the WBO interim title in April with a career best performance against Jonas Sultan in Butler’s hometown in Liverpool and was elevated to full champion shortly thereafter.
Impressive as the Sultan performance was, Butler is up against a different challenge entirely in the form of Inoue, widely regarded as one of the best fighters in all of boxing.
‘The Monster’ has a record of 23-0, with just three of those managing to hear the final bell. Inoue arguably put in the most devastating performance of his career last time out, stopping the legendary Nonito Donaire in only the second round of their much-anticipated rematch.
As a three-weight world champion and unquestionable pound-for-pound talent, there is no denying Inoue represents by far and away the toughest test of Butler’s career to date, with many fans online already writing the Liverpudlian’s obituaries.
It would be an upset to rival the likes of Douglas vs Tyson and Honeyghan vs Curry if Butler could manage the unthinkable in Japan. ‘The Babyfaced Assassin’ is a well-schooled fighter though, and will be buoyed by victory against Sultan in a contest where he was also a considerable underdog.
However, even the most patriotic of British fight fans would concede it is difficult to envisage anything other than the iconic Inoue walking out of the Ariake Arena will all four bantamweight belts in his possession, marking his conquest of the division complete before he looks to pastures new.