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Modern-day great Naoya Inoue topples Tapales for all the marbles

He’s a history-maker and soul-taker. Can anyone stop The Monster?

This article originally appeared in Steve Wellings’ Substack

It was more like Halloween than Christmas in Tokyo as Naoya Inoue delivered a frighteningly good display against Marlon Tapales. ‘The Monster’ has become a lower-weight cult hero and one of the sport’s best. Tapales was floored in the fourth and finished off in round 10.

Darting in and out of range, thumping home shots through the high guard, unleashing a sizzling jab and ferocious combinations, Inoue is a prime specimen at the peak of his powers. Like any pound-for-pound prodigy, enjoy him while he’s around.

Tapales’ early conservatism meant Inoue was forced to punch through the target to find gaps. That said, the Filipino southpaw did enjoy fleeting moments of success. Buoyed by any exploitations of an opening, ubiquitous handler of Asian talent Sean Gibbons repeatedly screamed from ringside that Inoue was uncomfortable with shots to the body.

Nobody likes receiving such blows, but Inoue certainly revelled in dishing out torso attacks. Using his own nous to create moments of success, Tapales enjoyed a stronger round seven. Leaning out of range, shoulder protruding forward, Marlon made Inoue’s right-hand fall short.

The lead right hook was working well for Tapales as well. Until Inoue made his own stylistic adjustments by dropping a shot underneath as Marlon dipped to the side. It showed a boxing brain to match the brilliant brawn.

Back-to-back undisputed efforts, dominating high-quality opponents, it appears that only size alone will be enough to derail the Kanagawa bullet train. After clearing out 122, many expected Inoue to swiftly exit the division.

Not so. According to the man himself in a post-fight explanation, featherweight will have to wait. Inoue revealed through an interpreter that he will continue campaigning at super-bantamweight, and negotiations with an opponent for May 2024 are in the works.

That opponent is expected to be exciting Mexican Luis Nery, a former PED cheat and weight skipper, somewhat rehabilitated since his 2023 Fight of the Year effort against Azat Hovhannisyan.

126 is in a bit of a flux since Rafael Espinoza shocked Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez. Brandon Figueroa is a hard-working PBC stalwart. Emanuel Navarrete moved up, and Luis Alberto Lopez is expected to follow suit. Inoue is happy to sit down and let them sort themselves out.

After creating such a standard, it’s now seen as routine to climb weights and beat up opponents. Therefore, Inoue is held to higher degrees of merit than most of his contemporaries. Do not let his excellence fool you – this is a serious talent achieving outstanding feats.

As for Marlon Tapales, he leaves with no disgrace. Tapales’ performance was better than heralded American Stephen Fulton, who folded meekly in July. Tapales previously showed skill and discipline against MJ Akhmadaliev and the ability to slip away from big shots while making his own punches pay. Once he gained momentum against MJ, experienced Tapales became hard to knock off his groove.

Inoue never allowed the Filipino to get into that same situation. The Japanese star took the man who had lost three times previously back to a place he had hoped to forget. Inoue improved his record to 26-0 (23 KOs) and now holds the WBA, WBO, WBC and IBF belts at super-bantamweight. Tapales falls to 37-4 (19 KOs).

Media Credits: Boxing Asylum, Japan News.


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