Tapales loses to Inoue in unification bout

CHAMP. Naoya Inoue of Japan (left) celebrates after beating Marlon Tapales of the Philippines in the 10th round of a boxing match for the unified WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF super bantamweight world titles in Tokyo on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023. / AP
CHAMP. Naoya Inoue of Japan (left) celebrates after beating Marlon Tapales of the Philippines in the 10th round of a boxing match for the unified WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF super bantamweight world titles in Tokyo on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023. / AP

JAPANESE superstar Naoya Inoue was just too much for Marlon Tapales as the former battered and stopped the latter in 10 rounds to become the unified world champion of the super bantamweight division on Dec. 26, 2023, at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.

Tapales put on a gallant stand against Inoue but the Japanese ring icon was just too talented and too powerful for the Filipino champion.

Inoue had a quick start and threw some heavy combinations in the early part of the fight.

Inoue caught Tapales with a vicious left hook that dropped him to the canvas.

Tapales adjusted to Inoue’s style and used the shoulder roll to defend his attacks. Tapales had success in the middle rounds and landed his jabs and shots to the body.

Inoue found the weakness in Tapales’ defense doubled on his right hook.

Tapales was forced to change his defensive style. This time Inoue landed a solid right straight to the head of Tapales, dropping him to the canvas for the second time in the fight.

Tapales tried his best to stand up but referee Ceslestino Ruiz reached the 10-count and stopped the fight at the 1:02 mark.

Inoue became just the second fighter in the modern era to unify all four major world titles in two weight divisions. The other boxer that has done that is Terence Crawford.

Inoue is now 26-0 with 23 knockouts, while Tapales dropped to 37-4 with 19 knockouts.

Meanwhile, Cebuano prospect John Paul Gabunilas also suffered a fifth round technical knockout in the hands of undefeated Japanese Kanamu Sakama in the undercard.

It was a fiery exchange between two courageous sluggers. However, in the fifth round Sakama unleashed a series of unanswered shots on Gabunilas that forced Japanese referee Koji Tanaka to step in and stop the fight at the 2:35 mark.

Gabunilas quickly protested the stoppage. He felt that it was a bit premature.

Gabunilas suffered his second straight defeat and fell to 10-3 with seven knockouts, while Sakama remained undefeated with 9-0 with eight knockouts.

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