In professional boxing, heavyweight fights are of the greatest interest. However, in terms of the speed of movement in the ring, the number of accurate strikes and perseverance, fights in other weight categories are in no way inferior to heavyweights, or even surpass them. Of particular interest in this regard is the lightest category (up to 53.5 kg). It is in this weight that on December 13 the fight for the title of absolute world champion between the holder of the WBC, WBA, IBF and The Ring belts, the Japanese Naoya Inoue and the British Paul Butler, who owns the WBO championship belt, will take place. The venue for the fight is Ariake Arena in Tokyo.
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Four belts on the line
Not just four belts are at stake – the title of the absolute world champion is at stake. Winning all four belts is the dream of any pro, in any category. In the bantamweight division, Panamanian Enrique Pinder was the last undisputed champion, but then it was enough for him to win only two championship belts: WBC and WBA. It happened way back in 1972.
Naoya Inoue could become the first Japanese to be the undisputed world champion. So the significance of this fight for the entire boxing world and for the athletes themselves can hardly be overestimated. Well, motivation is not to occupy both athletes. Both fighters say this is their chance to write their name in world boxing history.
“Monster”, as the Japanese boxer is called, had his first fight in the professional ring exactly 10 years ago – in November 2012. Since then, he entered the ring 23 times and won 23 victories, 20 of which were by knockout. Now it becomes clearer why Naoya got such a nickname.
Inoue won his first championship title at the age of 20 (2014). In 2018, after defeating Briton Jamie McDonnell, the Japanese became the world champion already in the third weight category. It was possible to unify the titles in three versions (WBC, WBA and IBF) after a hard victory over Filipino Nonito Donaire in June 2022.
The Englishman also has an excellent track record. During his professional career, Paul spent 36 fights, in which he won 34 victories (15 knockouts) and was defeated twice. The Baby-Faced Killer made his professional ring debut in 2010. Three years later, he became the WBO Intercontinental Champion, beating hitherto undefeated Chilean Miguel Gonzalez in the ring. A year later, Butler became the IBF world champion in the weight category up to 53.5 kg.
Butler was optimistic about the agreement to fight with the Japanese: I would go to Tokyo to write my name in the history of English sports. Of course, I believe in my victory.
Most bookmakers and experts consider Naoya Inoue to be the undoubted favorite of this fight. In social networks and instant messengers, they jokingly began to talk about the fact that Butler probably wants to die right in the ring. Paul reacted immediately: what can he do to me? Knockout? But I’ve already been stopped. I will enter the ring and no one will take away my faith in victory.
Inoue also believes in his victory: I will gradually weaken my opponent (Butler) and then knock him out. It is necessary to suppress his activity in the ring in order to finally realize his dream and become the absolute world champion. I have nowhere to retreat, there may not be a second chance.
Bookmakers offer to bet on the victory of a Japanese boxer with a coefficient of 1 to 1.07. A draw is possible with a probability of 1 to 22, but you can bet on Butler’s victory with a coefficient of 1 to 12. The numbers speak for themselves.