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Boxing’s ‘Monster’ Naoya Inoue 1st Japanese to Claim All 4 Belts in 2 Divisions (Update 1)
21:01 JST, December 26, 2023 (updated at Dec. 27 18:30 JST)
Naoya Inoue became just the second boxer in history to hold belts from all four major sanctioning bodies with his super bantamweight victory on Tuesday night at Tokyo’s Ariake Arena.
This is the second weight division in which Inoue has claimed all four titles, making him the second fighter in history to accomplish that feat — joining American Terence Crawford — and the first Japanese.
The 30-year-old now holds the WBC, WBO, WBA and IBF titles after a 10th-round victory by knockout over Marlon Tapales of the Philippines to improve to 26-0 with 23 KOs.
Inoue also won his 21st consecutive title bout, extending his own record for Japanese boxers and matching Kazuto Ioka for the longest overall winning streak.
“To collect the four belts gives me a real sense of accomplishment and I’m thrilled, but I see this as just a milestone along the way,” Inoue said. “I want to do well in my next bout.”
As for his opponent, Inoue said he protects himself well.
“Tapales was extremely strong on the defensive side,” Inoue said. “I’m glad to get a KO.”
Inoue gained control in the fourth round when he took a couple of lefts, but came back with a combination to send Tapales, who fell to 37-4 with 19 KOs, to the canvas. It appeared the fight was going to end quickly after that, but Tapales used strong upper-body agility to avoid any clean hits.
Even though Inoue wasn’t able to connect directly with any of his punches, he relentlessly continued to throw big rights. He was evidently able to put together enough glancing blows to do more damage than anyone thought.
Inoue in the 10th used a couple of rights to make Tapales retreat to the ropes, where his opponent immediately went down.
Inoue has all four major belts in the super bantamweight division, but he’ll have to hold off Mexico’s Luis Nery, who once beat Shinsuke Yamanaka.
Nicknamed the “Monster,” Inoue is aiming high as he rewrites history.
“Next year and the year after that, I want to devote myself to being even better in this division,” Inoue said.
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