Undefeated IBF/WBA/WBC Bantamweight world champion Nayoya Inoue can officially call himself the Undisputed Bantamweight champion of the world after scoring a one-sided eleventh round knockout of WBO World Bantamweight champion Paul Butler on Tuesday night at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan. From the opening bell it was clear who was the superior fighter as Inoue frequently backed Butler against the ropes and teed off with vicious combinations to the body and head of the WBO champion.
Although Butler appeared to have the fight plan of keeping a high defensive guard and attempting to use lateral movement against the pressure of Inoue, he did not let his hands go with consistency and was seemingly content to only throw punches occasionally in a clear show of respect for Inoue’s power. The action inside the ring or frankly lack thereof and mostly one way offense by Inoue eventually resulted in Inoue dropping his hands, shuffling his feat, and even putting his arms behind his back in an attempt to goad Butler to let his hands go. Butler did not fall prey to Inoue’s baiting tactics, but at no point did he appear to make a decision to fight as he continued to lose every round on the scorecards.
While Inoue appeared to be heading towards a shut out win on the scorecards if the bout went the full twelve round world championship distance, the gradually effects of all the punishment he had dishes out eventually caught up with Butler. A four punch combination to the head and body, highlighted by a left hook to the body put Butler down midway through the eleventh round. Butler appeared to be trying to get up from the knockdown, but rolled over on his back in pain as the ten count was concluded making Nayoya Inoue the first Undisputed Bantamweight champion of the world in the modern era in the history of Boxing.
Ultimately, this fight will go down in history both for the rarity in that it did not take years to bring the fight together as after he won the WBO Bantamweight world championship earlier this year, Paul Butler expressed his desire to face Inoue for the undisputed crown as soon as the fight could be made. While refreshing to see and throwing into the equation that a fight of this magnitude was held during a weekday, likely due to the bout’s location, and broadcast in the early morning hours to be seen live here in the United States by digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+ makes Inoue-Butler one of the more unique events in the history of the sport simply because it went against many of the norms that Boxing is both known and at times criticized for in terms of how quickly the fight was made.
As refreshing as that was however, the fight itself was a disappointment from the standpoint of one fighter perhaps being overwhelmed by the occasion not taking the chance to make a fight of it in what will probably be the biggest bout of his career and seemingly appeared content to try and go the distance with a fighter in Nayoya Inoue, who after becoming the Undisputed Bantamweight champion of the world and having won world championships in two divisions prior to becoming Bantamweight world champion and going on to fully unify the division, will likely go down as one of the greatest boxers in Japanese Boxing history. While it is indeed a major accomplishment, Inoue might vacate the Undisputed Bantamweight championship to move up in weight from the 118lb. Bantamweight division to the 122lb. Jr. Featherweight division in 2023.
Although Inoue’s victory over Paul Butler to become Undisputed Bantamweight champion of the world will not be remembered for being an all-time classic, it will nevertheless be a chapter in the story of what may go down as an all-time great fighter and future Hall of Famer. The next chapter in the career of Nayoya Inoue now awaits.
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