Naoya Inoue has become the first ever bantamweight undisputed champion in the four belt era, knocking out Englishman Paul Butler on Tuesday night.
The undefeated Inoue was completely dominant from the outset at Tokyo’s Ariake Arena, and is now the first Japanese fighter to become undisputed in the history of the sport.
Butler was simply unable to get into the bout as Inoue’s combinations forced him onto the ropes and into a high guard, with the hometown hero even baiting his rival throughout the middle rounds.
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A big body shot rocked Butler in the 11th before a 10-punch combo saw the Englishman hit the canvas and the fight was over.
“He’s stepped up to the plate and closed the show,” commentator Crystina Poncher said.
“You wondered how many body shots Butler could take.”
It was Inoue who took charge from the opening round, as his combination punches kept Butler on the defence.
Commentator Jamel Herring said Butler was just “sitting as a target” as Inoue’s hand speed kept him from throwing the hands.
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Butler was on the ropes repeatedly but managed to wear a number of body blows to stay standing.
The heavy underdog was impressive keeping his feet moving, but was simply fending off Inoue’s attacks.
“It’s one way to weather the storm, but he’s got to step up. He’s just getting tagged,” Herring said.
“He doesn’t want to be there (on the ropes). He can’t stay in those corners.
“He’s playing it safe, hoping he doesn’t get hit by anything big … he should be trying to win this right now.”
Butler started to let his hands go a little more in the fifth but Poncher feared it was coming too late.
“It’s just been too few and far between,” she said. “There has to be some more offence coming from Paul Butler.
“He’s got to be banking some of these rounds.”
Inoue stepped up his jab count through the middle rounds, keeping his shots short and sharp, as his confidence surged trying to draw Butler’s high guard defence down.
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“He’s just having fun with him. Inoue is just doing what he wants,” Herring said.
“When you’ve got a man walking to you with his hands down, he’s feeling it. He’s baiting him. He’s baiting Butler.
“It’s not a good look having a man toying with you in an undisputed match up and you are a world champion in your own right.”
The one-two combo got through Butler’s defences repeatedly in the eighth as the Englishman was “just looking to survive”.
“Go get it! Get after it – dare to be great!” Poncher urged.
“This opportunity comes so far between.”
“Butler must have a good chin, because he has taken some good, clean shots!” Herring added.
But it was all over in the 11th round as Butler simply couldn’t withstand any more shots.
The victory is likely to be Inoue’s last fight at 118 pounds, as he sets his sights now on the 122-pound class in a bid to become a four-division world champion.
In the other results of the night, Andy Hiraoka defeated Min Ho Jung by TKO in the eighth round for the WBO Asia Pacific super lightweight title while Yoshiki Takei claimed an 11th round TKO over Bruno Tarimo for the OPBF super bantamweight title.