This win might stand out among most of the rest in Naoya Inoue’s already storied career.

The effort put forth by Marlon Tapales exceeded the name value he brought to his undisputed junior featherweight championship. Yokohama’s Inoue eventually found a way to punch a hole through the wall, as he scored two knockdowns on the night. The latter forced the visiting Filipino down for the full ten count in the tenth round of their lineal, WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO full unification clash Tuesday at Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.

“I am so happy that I got the knockout in such a decisive manner,” Inoue said of his latest historic achievement. “It was one of the most intense fights I’ve ever had, probably, but my corner cheered me up and kept me focused throughout the bout.”

The latest victory by Inoue (26-0, 23KOs) marked his fourth straight fight where he dethroned a reigning titlist.

Tapales (37-4, 19KOs) brought the WBA and IBF junior featherweight titles to their scheduled 12-round main event, having claimed the belts less than nine months ago.

The 31-year-old Filipino southpaw was not without his moments. Tapales won the seventh round on two of the three cards and round eight on another, and was competitive at other points in the fight.

Granted, he didn’t fly to Tokyo just to settle for a participation trophy. Still, Tapales was rightly lauded for delivering a stiffer challenge than was the case when Inoue violently dethroned Nonito Donaire, Paul Butler and Stephen Fulton all in succession and barely losing a round in his previous three outings.

“He never showed me fatigue or damage from his face,” noted Inoue, who outlanded Tapales 146-to-52 according to CompuBox. “Iwas quite surprised when he went down in the 10th round.”

Inoue fully unified bantamweight and junior featherweight all in a span of just under 54 weeks. The feats come in addition to title wins at junior flyweight and junior bantamweight. Tuesday’s victory was likely the clincher for Inoue to edge out Terence Crawford (40-0, 31KOs) and Devin Haney (31-0, 15KOs) in the 2023 Fighter of the Year race.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox