THE RESULT: Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue added yet another stoppage victim to his incredible 26-fight résumé when halting Filipino Marlon Tapales at the one minute and two seconds mark of round 10 in Koto-Ku, Japan. In control throughout the fight, but pushed hard by a game and stubborn opponent, Inoue eventually secured the finish thanks to a jolting right hand to Tapales’ forehead, the impact of which forced Tapales to the canvas with the stuffing well and truly knocked out of him.
KEY MOMENTS: Following a typically fast start, Inoue landed his biggest shot of the fight in round four, when a counter left hook connected on the jaw of Tapales and put him on unsteady legs. It was then shortly after that Inoue dropped Tapales for the first time in the fight.
RECORDS: The 30-year-old Inoue’s record now stands at 26-0 (23), while Tapales, 31, falls to 37-4 (19).
TALKING POINT: With only Nonito Donaire able to take Inoue the full 12 rounds since 2016, one starts to wonder if anyone else is quipped to last the distance with Inoue these days, let alone beat him. Tonight’s opponent, Tapales, despite losing the majority of the rounds, was at least defensively sound, durable, and ambitious, even having success of his own with body shots. And yet, no matter how hard he huffed and puffed, and irrespective of the quality of his chin and extent of his determination, still Tapales cut a dispirited, exhausted and pained figure when dropping to his knees in round 10.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Now that Inoue has rounded up all four major belts in the super-bantamweight division, the second division in which he has achieved this feat, the question must be this: Does he next step up to featherweight? If he does, there will be greater challenges and bigger names for Inoue, which, at the age of 30, may be exactly what the “Monster” needs in order to keep this stunning run of form going.