Naoya Inoue vs. Paul Butler Set for Bantamweight World Title Unification Fight

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVOctober 13, 2022

Japan's Naoya Inoue poses for a photo during a press conference about his next fight against Britains Paul Butler in Yokohama on October 13, 2022. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)
Naoya Inoue (PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)

Naoya Inoue and Paul Butler will face off Dec. 13 to crown an undisputed world bantamweight boxing champion at Ariake Arena in Tokyo.

The fight, which was officially announced Thursday, will see Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs) put the WBA Super, WBC and IBF belts on the line against Butler (34-2, 15 KOs), the WBO bantamweight titleholder.

Inoue added the latest championship to his collection in June when he scored a second-round TKO of Nonito Donaire to capture the WBC title.

"I want my name to go down in international boxing history, and to change Japan's boxing history," the 29-year-old Japanese sensation told reporters Thursday.

Inoue, whose nickname is The Monster, added he can't underestimate Butler, who's riding an eight-fight winning streak since his last loss in May 2018.

"Paul Butler is an extremely well-rounded fighter, with no obvious weak points," Inoue said. "In the fight, I want to weaken him little by little with my boxing, before taking him down. I will demonstrate the overwhelming difference in strength between us and unify the four organizations."

Butler won the WBO belt with a unanimous-decision triumph over Jonas Sultan in April.

Now the 33-year-old Englishman is aiming for an upset to shake up the 118-pound division in what he describes as the "biggest fight of my career."

"I am under no illusions as to the size of the task that faces me, but I have been going to bed dreaming of becoming the undisputed bantamweight champion of the world," Butler said. "Inoue is a phenomenal fighter, but not one person should be underestimating me, my skills or my resolve. I am going to Japan to write my name into the history of our sport."

Inoue will likely be a heavy favorite when fight night arrives in December, but Butler showed enough in his dominant win over Sultan to believe he has a chance.

Pace is the key for the Baby-Faced Assassin. If he can maintain a strong defensive posture and keep Inoue from pushing the tempo and shifting the advantage toward his offensive style, he'll have a shot.

Otherwise, it could be an early knockout for Inoue in front of his home country crowd.