Naoya Inoue stops Paul Butler to become undisputed champion
Japan’s Naoya Inoue became the first undisputed bantamweight world champion in half a century on Tuesday after stopping England’s Paul Butler in the 11th round in Tokyo.
The unbeaten Inoue, nicknamed “Monster”, finally floored a defensive Butler with a flurry of body shots after dominating the bout.
Inoue took his record to 24-0, with 21 knockouts, and added Butler’s WBO title to his own WBC, WBA and IBF belts.
POUND FOR POUND NO. 1️⃣
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) December 13, 2022
He becomes the first undisputed bantamweight world champion since Panama’s Enrique Pinder in 1972.
He also becomes only the ninth undisputed world champion since the four-belt era began in 2004, and the first in the bantamweight division.
Inoue has long set his sights on unifying the bantamweight titles and he said he plans to move up a weight class after accomplishing his mission.
“It’s taken me a long time over these past four years but on December 13 I finally became the undisputed bantamweight champion,” said Inoue.
“The bantamweight division is not easy but I had the goal of becoming undisputed champion and I managed to do that.
“Now I am thinking of moving up to super-bantamweight.”
The 29-year-old started in characteristically ferocious fashion against Butler, landing several big shots in the opening round.
He unleashed a volley of body shots in the second, Butler barely able to return fire with Inoue in full control.
Inoue continued to punish the Englishman through the early rounds, connecting with a series of punches after twice trapping him in the corner.
Butler drew deeper into his defensive shell as the match wore on and Inoue grew frustrated as he tried to coax him into launching an attack.
But the Japanese fighter continued to inflict damage and finally floored him 1min 9sec into the 11th round.
“I anticipated that this fight would last longer than usual,” said Inoue.
“This is the first time Butler has fought in Japan and he came for this unification fight so I am very grateful to him.”
Inoue joins an exclusive club of undisputed world champions in the modern boxing era.
He is only the ninth fighter to hold all four belts from the major sanctioning bodies — WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO — at the same time.
The eight others are Bernard Hopkins (middleweight), Jermain Taylor (middleweight), Terence Crawford (super lightweight), Oleksandr Usyk (cruiserweight), Josh Taylor (super lightweight), Saul Alvarez (super middleweight), Jermell Charlo (super welterweight) and Devin Haney (lightweight).
Inoue became the first Japanese boxer to top Ring Magazine’s prestigious pound-for-pound rankings as the best fighter across all weight divisions earlier this year.
That accolade came after he had demolished Philippines veteran Nonito Donaire inside two rounds in his previous fight in June.
Butler, who was fighting away from home for the first time, saw his record drop to 34-3.
Inoue’s younger brother Takuma also won on Tuesday’s undercard, stopping Jade Bornea of the Philippines in the eighth round.