Japanese star Naoya Inoue scored a 10th-round KO of Marlon Tapales on Tuesday in Tokyo to capture the undisputed junior featherweight championship.
“The Monster” landed two right hands in succession that were partially blocked, but following a systematic breakdown of Tapales, the punches were enough to finish the fight.
After the second shot landed, Tapales dropped to one knee on a delayed reaction and was counted out at 1:02 of Round 10 to lift Inoue to his second undisputed championship in 12 months.
Inoue (26-0, 23 KOs) also scored a knockdown in Round 4 after a left hand connected followed by a barrage of punches.
“I think [junior featherweight] is my weight class for now so, in 2024, I would like to show myself at [junior featherweight] in even stronger form,” Inoue said in interpreted remarks.
” … I am so happy that I got the knockout in such a decisive manner.”
Inoue, ESPN’s No. 2 pound-for-pound boxer, won the undisputed 118-pound championship last December with an 11th-round KO of Paul Butler.
Inoue, 30, then made his 122-pound debut in July against the top fighter in the division, Stephen Fulton. Inoue knocked him out in Round 7 to claim the WBC and WBO titles.
Tapales (37-4, 19 KOs) offered far more resistance than Fulton but found no answers. The Filipino landed the career-high payday after he upset Murodjon Akhmadaliev in April via split decision to win the WBA and IBF titles.
His heavy, snappy jab was effective against Inoue, too, but it only served to stave off the inevitable. After all, Inoue was a -2000 favorite, per ESPN BET.
Tapales, 31, was game and determined but was overmatched in every imaginable category: speed, power, strength and athleticism. Tapales was able to use his ring smarts and effective pressure to back up Inoue, but sustained success was harder to come by.
Inoue pounced on every precious punching opportunity with explosive combinations as Tapales boxed from a high guard. He was wise to show Inoue’s power such respect.