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Boxing Star Inoue Vows ‘Historic Match’ in Showdown against Tapales

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Naoya Inoue, left, and Marlon Tapales pose with their world title belts at a press conference in Yokohama on Sunday.

Japanese boxing star Naoya Inoue vowed a “historic match” in his upcoming unification showdown in Tokyo against Philippines’ Marlon Tapales as he bids to become the second boxer in history to hold all four world titles in a second weight division.

Inoue currently holds the super bantamweight belts of the World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Organization (WBO), while Tapales is the champion of the World Boxing Association (WBA) and the International Boxing Federation (IBF).

Inoue, who is 25-0 with 22 knockouts and holds all four organization’s belts in the bantamweight division, will be looking to make history with a knockout when the two champions fight it out to unify the super bantamweight belts at Tokyo’s Ariake Arena on Tuesday.

“No matter how the match goes, I want to come out the winner,” Inoue said at a press conference in Yokohama on Sunday. “If the chance comes, I want to finish it off.”

Inoue said he wants to put on a memorable show for the fans. “It’s going to be a historic match. I want the people to see me unify the four belts in a second division.”

At the press conference, Tapales expressed his determination to score a historic victory for the Philippines.

Tapales relies on strong left

Tapales has a 37-3 record with 19 knockouts and became a two-division world champion by winning by decision over Murodjon Akhmadaliev of Uzbekistan in April this year.

The southpaw has a powerful knockout punch, but Inoue’s overall superiority in speed, footwork and other aspects will present a tough challenge.

With a low center of gravity, Tapales tends to lead with a right jab and attack from the left side. His counter right hook and close uppercut are also effective, so Inoue may need to take caution when he gets close to Tapales or his opponent goes with a left jab.

In 2019, Tapales lost to former world champion Ryosuke Iwasa by TKO in the 11th round, but has looked stronger since then.

Tapales is not the type to have footwork decide the match, so he is likely to get into an exchange with Inoue early in the bout. The early rounds are likely to see a fierce battle, but Inoue will quickly assess Tapales’ abilities without being bothered by the southpaw’s attack before gradually picking up the pace.

Much depends on how Tapales starts out, but it looks like Inoue will set himself up for a knockout in the middle rounds or later.