by Huck Allen: WBO bantamweight champion Paul Butler (34-3, 15 KOs) put in a heroic effort before falling apart in the eleventh round in getting stopped by undefeated IBF, WBA & WBO 118-lb world champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) on Tuesday night at the Ariake Arena, in Tokyo, Japan. The time of the stoppage was 1:09 of round eleven.
Surprisingly, Butler efficiently handled Inoue’s single-power shots and forced him to throw combinations to win the fight. Butler landed many of his best shots to the head & body of Inoue, giving him something to think about in every round.
Butler pushed Inoue
By the time the fight came to an end, Inoue looked severely fatiguedand much of the power that he’d started the fight with was gone, which was a result of Butler forcing the Japanese star to defend himself in every second of each round.
When Inoue would attempt to get a breather, Butler was right on top of him, clubbing him with beautiful punches to the head and hard body shots that forced him to cover up. What Butler exposed in the fight was that Inoue’s defense was porous.
Even when covering up in a shell, Inoue couldn’t block Butler’s punches. He was fortunate that Butler lacked the power to damage him enough to score a stoppage. Still, Butler got his pound of flesh in the fight, making Inoue realize he’s been in a war.
In the eleventh round, Inoue dropped Butler with a right-hand heat-seeking missile straight down the pipe that exploded on his chin, sending the brave British fighter down on the canvas. When the 34-year-old butler attempted to rise, he collapsed, falling on his back, resulting in the referee Bence Kovacs holding the contest.
At the time of the stoppage, the 29-year-old Japanese star ‘Monster’ Inoue was ahead on the scorecards by the following scores:
Boxing News 24 had Inoue ahead 10-0 heading into the eleventh round. Still, it was one of the more competitive fights that Inoue had during his ten-year professional career.
To be sure, it wasn’t as competitive a fight as superstar Inoue’s first match with Nonito ‘The Filipino Flash’ Donaire in 2019 or his fight with David Carmona in 2016. However, it was still a problematic bout for Naoya.
The victory for Naoya gives him all four belts at bantamweight, thus completing his mission of becoming the undisputed champion. It took Inoue four years to accomplish his goal of capturing all four titles at 118 after entering the division in 2018.
Inoue is not rugged enough for 122
Inoue will now be moving up to the 122-lb weight class, where his work of becoming the undisputed champion will potentially be more accessible. Naoya only needs to defeat IBF/WBA super bantamweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev and WBC/WBO champ Stephen Fulton to become the undisputed champ at 122.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Fulton and Akhmadaliev can punch and have superb boxing skills. Moreover, they’re naturally larger than Inoue, and they’ll be better equipped to handle his power compared to the fighters in the 118, 115, and 112-lb weight classes.
Tonight’s performance by Inoue showed that he could be making the wrong move in going up to 122 to fight Akhmadaliev and Fulton. Those guys will take his Inoue’s power as Butler did tonight, but they’ll punish him with much more complex shots and very likely knock him out.
This writer favors Akhmadaliev to stop Inoue, and Fulton will beat him by a decision. Inoue is too small and lacks the ruggedness required to beat fighters like Akhmadaliev and Fulton.
It’s possible that Inoue will return to the 118-lb division after he loses to Akhmadaliev or Fulton at 122. He’s not big enough for that division, and he’s going to be in for a big surprise when he gets up there.