Naoya Inoue has done what no other Japanese fighter has.
Inoue secured the undisputed bantamweight title after knocking out Paul Butler in the 11th round of their one-sided unification bout Tuesday at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo. Inoue captured Butler’s WBO title and now dons the WBA, WBC and IBF straps with it; he comes the first fighter from Japan to claim the status in the three- or four-belt era.
“This is the proudest moment of my career,” Inoue said during his post-fight interview on ESPN+.
Butler’s strategy in the first round was to force Inoue to come forward – which is exactly what he did. But instead of Butler gaining the advantage, Inoue was able to read through his game plan and still managed to fire off combinations.
Butler had little to no space work with by round two as Inoue continued to press. Butler was able to let off a jab, but Inoue outdid him with repeated combinations.
And it remained much of the same for the next few rounds. Butler had a moment in the sixth round where he caught Inoue with a double left hook.
The bout eventually headed into the ninth round, which was the first time since his memorable fight against Nonito Donaire in November 2019. Despite getting outboxed thus far, Butler was still standing and showed how strong his chin can be.
But that changed during the championship rounds.
Inoue once again chased his opponent and greeted him with a flurry of punches, forcing Butler to find refuge in the ropes. Butler eventually hit the mat and laid himself out on the floor.
The referee gave Butler the count, but it was clear that he could not continue.
POUND FOR POUND NO. 1️⃣
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) December 13, 2022
Heading into the 11th round, Inoue was ahead 100-90 on all three scorecards. The Japanese boxer had landed 151 of 665 total punches (22.7%) to the Brit’s 38 of 301 (12.6%).
Inoue is 19-0 (17 KOs) in major title fights.
He reportedly said that he intends to move up to super bantamweight and attempt to become a four-weight world champion.