By Dan Ambrose: It’s now official that Marlon Tapales & Naoya Inoue will meet for the four-belt undisputed championship at super bantamweight two months from now, on December 26th. The fight will be shown live on ESPN+.
Hopefully, the 31-year-old Tapales’ punch resistance has improved since he was knocked out by Ryosuke Iwasa in 2019 because Inoue is going to be bouncing huge shots off his chin from the opening bell.
We haven’t seen someone go the distance with Inoue in 2019 in a grueling war that saw both fighters hurt. In that fight, Donaire revealed that Inoue’s ability to take punishment isn’t nearly as good as his ability to dish it out. However, no one since has been able to handle Inoue’s power, and he’s had it pretty easy.
If Tapales can hang in there into the later rounds, he’s got a chance of stopping Inoue and pulling off a massive upset in doing so.
IBF & WBA champion ‘Monster’ Inoue (25-0, 22 KOs) will be the favorite in this contest at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan. It should be an interesting fight, but not the match-up fans want to see from Inoue.
They want to see Inoue move up to featherweight to take on WBO champion Robeisy Ramirez, which could happen next year. Both guys are with Top Rank, so it’ll be an easy one to make. Inoue may find that he’s met his match when he goes up against the two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy next year, but there would be no shame in losing to this guy.
We all know that Inoue will eventually lose if he keeps climbing divisions the way he’s been doing. The only way Inoue can spare himself that is to quit while he’s still ahead to preserve his unbeaten record and retire while still on top.
With a win here, the 30-year-old Monster Inoue will be a two-division undisputed champion, which would be quite an accomplishment.
Where it could be difficult for Inoue is for him to move up to 126 and then 130. It would be incredible if Inoue could become a three or four-division undisputed champ.
Tapales (37-3, 19 KOs) recently captured the WBC & WBO 122-lb belts last April, beating champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev by a twelve round split decision in an upset.
“The sensational Naoya Inoue astounds with every performance. We are witnessing an all-time great fighter in the prime of his career,” said Top Rank boss Bob Arum.
“He has a very difficult task at hand on December 26 against a tough, powerful Filipino champion in Marlon Tapales, but I am confident ‘The Monster’ will pass this test with flying colors.”