Wednesday, October 25th 2023

Four Belt Fever: Champions Naoya Inoue & Marlon Tapales Collide in Undisputed Junior Featherweight World Title Showdown December 26 at Tokyo’s Ariake Arena LIVE & Exclusively on ESPN+

Inoue-Tapales and undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+ in a special early-morning presentation

TOKYO (Oct. 24, 2023) – Japan’s pound-for-pound king is gearing up to extend his undisputed legacy to a second weight class.

WBC/WBO world champion Naoya “Monster” Inoue and WBA/IBF king Marlon Tapaleswill collide in an undisputed junior featherweight showdown on Tuesday, December 26 at Ariake Arena in Tokyo. Inoue, already a four-division world champion, seeks to become the second fighter to earn four-belt undisputed status in a second division.

Inoue-Tapales and undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+ in a special early-morning presentation.

“The sensational Naoya Inoue astounds with every performance. We are witnessing an all-time great fighter in the prime of his career,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “He has a very difficult task at hand on December 26 against a tough, powerful Filipino champion in Marlon Tapales, but I am confident ‘The Monster’ will pass this test with flying colors.”

Inoue (25-0, 22 KOs) is 20-0 with 18 knockouts in world title fights since defeating Adrian Hernandez in 2014 for the WBC light flyweight crown. He then moved up two divisions, knocked out then-WBO junior bantamweight world champion Omar Narvaez, and defended the title on seven occasions. At bantamweight, Inoue became the division’s first undisputed champion in the four-belt era, collecting each title as he defeated Emmanuel Rodriguez, Nonito Donaire twice and Paul Butler over a three-year span. After vanquishing WBC/WBO junior featherweight world champion Stephen Fulton via eighth-round TKO in July, Inoue plans to become the first undisputed four-belt champion at 122 pounds.

Tapales (37-3, 19 KOs) is a 40-fight veteran who debuted in July 2008. He spent the earlier part of his career fighting in his native Philippines, suffering two early setbacks before a breakout performance against then-unbeaten Japanese contender Shohei Omori, whom he defeated via second-round TKO in December 2015. Tapales then captured the WBO bantamweight world title with an 11th-round TKO against Panya Uthok. After beating Omori in their 2018 rematch, he moved up to junior featherweight. He is 4-0 with 3 KOs since losing to Ryosuke Iwasa in December 2019. Tapales returns following his biggest win to date, April’s upset split decision against Murodjon Akhmadaliev to capture the WBA and IBF titles.