Naoya Inoue vs. Tapales – ESPN+ – December 26 – 9 am ET
Inoue-Tapales and undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+ in a special early-morning presentation
Japan’s top fighter, Naoya “Monster” Inoue, is ready to write another chapter in his boxing saga, aiming to expand his undisputed dominance into a fresh weight division.
The showdown everyone’s been waiting for is here. WBC/WBO champion Naoya “Monster” Inoue is set to throw down with WBA/IBF champion Marlon Tapales in a can’t-miss junior featherweight contest on December 26 at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo. Inoue, with titles across four divisions, is hungry to be recognized as the second boxer to achieve a four-belt undisputed title in two separate divisions.
Boxing fans in the U.S., set your alarms because the Inoue-Tapales fight and the thrilling undercard fights will be broadcasted live on ESPN+ for an exclusive early-morning showcase.
Top Rank chairman, Bob Arum, didn’t hold back his excitement, saying, “The phenomenal Naoya Inoue keeps astonishing fans with each outing. It feels like we’re watching a legendary boxer at the pinnacle of his game.” He added, “Facing the mighty Filipino champ Marlon Tapales on December 26 won’t be a walk in the park, but I’m placing my bets on ‘The Monster’ to emerge victorious.”
Diving deeper, Inoue’s record stands impeccable at (25-0, 22 KOs). Since his 2014 win against Adrian Hernandez for the WBC light flyweight title, he’s maintained an impressive streak of 20-0 with 18 knockouts in title fights. After shifting up two divisions, he clinched and successfully defended the WBO junior bantamweight title. His journey at bantamweight was nothing short of iconic, becoming the division’s first to hold all four titles simultaneously. With his recent triumph over Stephen Fulton in July, Inoue’s eyes are set on a groundbreaking achievement: to be the junior featherweight division’s first undisputed four-belt champion.
On the flip side, Tapales, with a respectable record of (37-3, 19 KOs) and 40 fights under his belt, embarked on his pro journey back in 2008. After initial hiccups in the Philippines, he turned the tide with a win over the then-undefeated Japanese contender, Shohei Omori, in 2015. His notable win over Panya Uthok crowned him the WBO bantamweight world champion. Moving up a division after a triumphant rematch against Omori in 2018, Tapales has been on a roll. The Filipino boxer’s most recent win in April over Murodjon Akhmadaliev was the talk of the town, securing him the WBA and IBF titles.