Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan
Early Morning USA Time ESPN+ ESPN+
Bouts 1 - Updated Wed, Dec 27 2023
Naoya Inoue is gearing up to step back into the arena where he achieved the status of an undisputed champion, aiming to replicate that historic achievement. The four-division champion is scheduled for a momentous junior featherweight unification clash against Marlon Tapales of the Philippines. Their much-anticipated battle for the lineal, WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO championships is set to take place on December 26 at Tokyo's Ariake Arena, with ESPN+ broadcasting the event live during the early post-Christmas hours. Inoue seeks to etch his name as the second male boxer in the sport's history to secure undisputed status in two weight divisions. Regarded as a pound-for-pound marvel, Naoya Inoue continues to dazzle audiences with each bout, according to Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, who co-promotes Inoue with Top Rank. Arum expressed confidence in Inoue's abilities, acknowledging the upcoming challenge against the formidable Filipino champion, Marlon Tapales, while affirming his belief that 'The Monster' will conquer this test triumphantly. Inoue, boasting a record of 25-0 with 22 knockouts, last unified the bantamweight division by achieving an eleventh-round knockout of England’s Paul Butler on December 13 at Ariake Arena. His previous fight at the same venue was a dominant eighth-round stoppage of the undefeated Stephen Fulton, securing the WBC and WBO 122-pound titles on July 25. Marlon Tapales, with a record of 37-3 and 19 knockouts, will be risking his WBA and IBF titles as both fighters attempt their inaugural defense in this weight class. Both Inoue and Tapales claimed their titles in their most recent fights. Tapales secured a twelve-round, split decision victory over the unbeaten Murodjon Akhmadaliev on April 8 in San Antonio, Texas, marking his rise as a two-division titlist. The 31-year-old southpaw previously held the WBO bantamweight title in July 2016, although he lost the belt due to a missed weight cut before regaining it in an eleventh-round knockout of Shohei Omori in April 2017. Tapales has achieved four victories in Japan throughout his 15-year professional career.