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Naoya Inoue vs. Marlon Tapales: Undisputed Championship Showdown Set for December 26 in Tokyo

Title: “Naoya Inoue vs. Marlon Tapales: Undisputed Championship Showdown Set for December 26 in Tokyo”

Boxing enthusiasts have an exciting year-end event to look forward to as Naoya Inoue and Marlon Tapales gear up for their full unification bout, scheduled for December 26 in Tokyo, Japan. This event marks a historic opportunity to crown the next undisputed champion in the male division, and it was officially confirmed during the Ratings segment of the WBO’s 36th annual convention held in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The victor of this clash will earn the distinction of becoming the first undisputed champion in their division since its re-establishment in 1977, having briefly existed in the early 1920s.

Inoue, hailing from Yokohama, Japan, boasts an impressive record of 25-0 with 22 knockouts. He will put his WBC and WBO 122-pound belts on the line, while Tapales, representing the Philippines, with a record of 37-3 and 19 knockouts, will risk his WBA and IBF titles. Notably, both fighters will be defending their divisional straps for the first time, having claimed their titles earlier this year in separate battles.

Tapales earned his two-division champion status with a hard-fought split decision victory over the unbeaten Murodjon Akhmadaliev on April 8 in San Antonio, Texas. This 31-year-old southpaw had previously won the WBO bantamweight title in July 2016 but was stripped of the belt due to a weight issue ahead of an eleventh-round knockout of Shohei Omori in April 2017. Throughout his 15-year professional career, Tapales has secured four wins in Japan.

Inoue has the chance to make history for Japan in three consecutive fights. In December, he became Japan’s first-ever undisputed champion in the three- or four-belt era by unifying the bantamweight division with an eleventh-round knockout of England’s Paul Butler. Subsequently, in July, he added another feather to his cap by achieving unified title status at two weights, securing a dominant eighth-round knockout of unbeaten WBC/WBO 122-pound titlist Stephen Fulton.

This unification bout was already in the works, as Tapales had targeted such a fight in his post-fight interview after defeating Akhmadaliev.

If Inoue emerges victorious, he will join an elite group as only the second male and third overall boxer in the world to fully unify all four major titles (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO) at two different weights. Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford achieved this feat in the welterweight division, becoming the first male to do so with his ninth-round stoppage of Errol Spence.

Inoue’s success would also mark his distinction as a two-division undisputed champion in just one year. His ‘Super Champion’ designation with the WBO positions him for a possible featherweight title challenge in 2024, although his immediate focus is set on the junior featherweight division. On the other hand, Tapales could make history as the first Filipino undisputed champion in the three- or four-belt era. This upcoming bout promises to be a monumental event in the world of boxing.


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