Naoya Inoue didn’t waste any time to target his next opponent.
Marlon Tapales made a point to be ringside Tuesday in Tokyo where he had every intention of challenging the winner. Inoue emphatically claimed the WBC and WBO junior featherweight titles in a one-sided, eighth-round knockout of unbeaten titlist Stephen Fulton (now 21-1, 8KOs) to become a four-division titlist.
The conversation quickly shifted to the next potential fight for Inoue. The opponent who makes the most sense is the Philippines’ Tapales (37-3, 19KOs), who won the WBA and IBF 122-pound titles in a split-decision victory over Murodjon Akhmadaliev this past April 8 in San Antonio, Texas.
“I want to fight Inoue to prove to myself that I am a great champion,” Tapales said in the ring, respectful of his newfound divisional rival.”
A clever grin graced the face of his intended target, who didn’t waste any time to respond—nor does he want to waste any time to build towards the undisputed championship.
“Let’s do this, this year,” Inoue insisted.
Tuesday’s win saw Inoue (25-0, 22KOs) become Japan’s first-ever unified titlist in at least two weight divisions. He previously held the undisputed bantamweight championship before moving up in weight earlier this year.
To date, no male boxer has ever held undisputed crowns in two weight divisions. Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (39-0, 30KOs) has a chance to do so in his four-belt welterweight unification bout versus Errol Spence (28-0, 22KOs) this Saturday from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Inoue—also a former WBC junior flyweight and WBO junior bantamweight titlist—would then become the second male boxer to accomplish the feat should he face and beat Tapales later this year. Tapales would make history for the Philippines as the nation’s first undisputed champion at any weight during the mullt-belt era.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox