Strictly Business Boxing
Strictly Business Boxing

Four Belt Fever:Champions Inoue & Tapales Collide

In Undisputed Jr. Featherweight World Title Showdown December 26th, Tokyo’s Ariake Arena.

LIVE & Exclusively On ESPN+!

(October 24th) Japan’s pound-for-pound king is gearing up to extend his undisputed legacy to a second weight class.


WBC/WBO world champion Naoya “Monster” Inoue and WBA/IBF king Marlon Tapales will collide in an undisputed junior featherweight showdown on Tuesday, December 26 at Ariake Arena in Tokyo. Inoue, already a four-division world champion, seeks to become the second fighter to earn four-belt undisputed status in a second division.


Inoue-Tapales and undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+ in a special early-morning presentation.


“The sensational Naoya Inoue astounds with every performance. We are witnessing an all-time great fighter in the prime of his career,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “He has a very difficult task at hand on December 26 against a tough, powerful Filipino champion in Marlon Tapales, but I am confident ‘The Monster’ will pass this test with flying colors.”


Inoue (25-0, 22 KOs) is 20-0 with 18 knockouts in world title fights since defeating Adrian Hernandez in 2014 for the WBC light flyweight crown. He then moved up two divisions, knocked out then-WBO junior bantamweight world champion Omar Narvaez, and defended the title on seven occasions. At bantamweight, Inoue became the division’s first undisputed champion in the four-belt era, collecting each title as he defeated Emmanuel Rodriguez, Nonito Donaire twice and Paul Butler over a three-year span. After vanquishing WBC/WBO junior featherweight world champion Stephen Fulton via eighth-round TKO in July, Inoue plans to become the first undisputed four-belt champion at 122 pounds.


Tapales (37-3, 19 KOs) is a 40-fight veteran who debuted in July 2008. He spent the earlier part of his career fighting in his native Philippines, suffering two early setbacks before a breakout performance against then-unbeaten Japanese contender Shohei Omori, whom he defeated via second-round TKO in December 2015. Tapales then captured the WBO bantamweight world title with an 11th-round TKO against Panya Uthok. After beating Omori in their 2018 rematch, he moved up to junior featherweight. He is 4-0 with 3 KOs since losing to Ryosuke Iwasa in December 2019. Tapales returns following his biggest win to date, April’s upset split decision against Murodjon Akhmadaliev to capture the WBA and IBF titles.


About ESPN+

ESPN+ is the multi-sport, direct-to-consumer video service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International (DTCI) segment and ESPN. It reached 2 million subscribers in less than a year and offers fans thousands of live events, on-demand content and original programming not available on ESPN’s linear TV or digital networks, along with premium editorial content.


Programming on ESPN+ includes hundreds of MLB and NHL games, exclusive UFC, Top Rank boxing and PFL fights and events, top domestic and international soccer (Serie A, MLS, FA Cup, UEFA Nations League, EFL Championship, EFL Carabao Cup, Eredivisie, and more), thousands of college sports events (including football, basketball and other sports), Grand Slam tennis, international and domestic rugby and cricket, new and exclusive series, acclaimed studio shows and the full library of ESPN’s award-winning 30 for 30 films. Fans subscribe to ESPN+ for just $4.99 a month (or $49.99 per year) and can cancel at any time.


ESPN+ is available as an integrated part of the ESPN App (on mobile and connected devices) and


About ESPN

In the UK, ESPN operates a successful and growing business that includes a collection of leading sports websites and apps, an expanding sports content sales business, live and on-demand streaming service ESPN Player, and a long-term collaboration with BT Sport that includes BT Sport operating an ESPN-branded channel as part of its television business.


ESPN UK combines bespoke content from an experienced London-based team with the best writing on other sites in ESPN’s global digital portfolio, including and ESPN FC. More than 100 staff from multiple locations contribute to ESPN UK’s coverage across football, rugby, cricket, tennis, boxing and golf, offering both a local and global view.


ESPN’s UK business is part of ESPN International, a division of ESPN, Inc., which has grown to include ownership — in whole or in part — of 26 television networks outside of the United States, as well as a variety of additional businesses that allow ESPN to reach sports fans in more than 60 countries and territories across all seven continents. Since 1983, ESPN (founded in Bristol, Connecticut, in 1979) has grown around the world, establishing itself as the leading global sports media brand – is one of the world’s leading sports websites. The company’s philosophy to global growth is to always serve sports fans and be locally relevant to them, with content and products that tap into their great passion and dedication. ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.


About Top Rank

Innovation has been the standard at Top Rank since it was established in 1966 by Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum. The boxing industry’s leading promotional company, Top Rank has shaped, developed, and promoted the careers of top international pay-per-view superstars and Hall of Famers, including Muhammad Ali, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Aaron Pryor, Alexis Arguello, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Miguel Cotto, Erik Morales, Terence Crawford, and Vasiliy Lomachenko.


Top Rank has promoted some of the most memorable fights in the sport’s history, including 26 Ali events, Leonard vs. Hearns, Pryor vs. Arguello, Duran vs. Leonard, Hagler vs. Hearns, Leonard vs. Hagler, Foreman vs. Holyfield, Morales vs. Barrera, De La Hoya vs. Trinidad, and the most lucrative fight in boxing history, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. In addition to the previously mentioned super fights, Top Rank possesses one of the largest sports libraries, which includes nearly 10,000 fights.


Known for creating strategic collaborations between athletes, sponsors, and television networks, Top Rank has been an architect of boxing’s global growth by staging high-profile events in landmark settings around the world, including Madison Square Garden, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Staples Center, Wembley Arena, Araneta Coliseum, The Venetian Macao, Yankee Stadium, Radio City Music Hall, The “Fabulous” Forum, and AT&T Stadium. Top Rank has also been the leader within the boxing industry in creating unforgettable in-arena experiences for fans and embracing 21st century technological advancements to distribute world-class fights and shoulder programming across a variety of platforms.

Print | Sitemap
© Strictly Business Boxing