By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Japan’s Takuma Inoue came off the canvas in the opening round of a furious ten round battle in which he decked Filipino Froilan “The Sniper” Saludar twice, in rounds eight and nine to earn a crack at WBO bantamweight champion Marlon “The Nightmare” Tapales at the famed Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on December 30.
Salud had received several offers for Tapales to defend his title in London against former IBF champion Paul “Baby Faced Assassin” Butler who is 27 years old and has a record of 21-1 with 12 knockouts.
However, Wakee hadn’t received any details on the purse offer and ancillary rights. There were also offers from Puerto Rico and even Vietnam but promoter/manager Rex “Wakee” Salud chose to have the newly-crowned bantamweight champion make the first defense of his title in negotiations finalized with Japanese journalist/matchmaker Joe Koizumi who represented the camp of Takuma Inoue.
The 20 year old Inoue who fought as a bantamweight for the first time earned a hard-fought unanimous ten round decision over Saludar with scores of 97-90 on the scorecards of two judges, Kazuo Abe and Biney Martin and 96-91 on the scorecard of the third judge Kazutoshi Yoshida. The referee was Yuji Fukuchi.
Takuma is the younger brother of the more popular WBO super flyweight champion Naoya Inoue.
Takuma Inoue who is ranked No. 4 by the WBC has a record of 8-0 with 2 knockouts.
The southpaw Tapales is coming off a stunning KO victory over Thai champion Pungluang Sor Singyu in a fight in which the Filipino got off the canvas twice in round five to comeback and drop the Thai world champion in the very next round before eventually blasting Pungluang into submission in the 11th round.
WBO fight supervisor and Asia Pacific vice president Leon Panoncillo told BoxingScene.com/The Standard “it was one of the best fights I’ve ever seen in Thailand.”