The Japanese superstar, currently ranked as ESPN’s No. 2 pound-for-pound boxer, will seek to become the first undisputed bantamweight champion in nearly 50 years. Inoue, 29, holds the WBA, WBC and IBF titles.
ESPN+ is expected to broadcast the fight on Tuesday morning in the United States.
Nicknamed “The Monster” for his destructive punching power and devastating body attack, Inoue scored a stunning second-round TKO over Filipino champion Nonito Donaire (42-7, 28 KOs) in their June 2022 rematch to capture the WBA belt. Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs) dominated Donaire in a follow-up to their first fight (named ESPN’s 2019 Fight of the Year) that saw Inoue overcome a fractured orbital bone and a broken nose suffered early in the fight to earn a hard-fought decision victory.
A three-division world champion, Inoue has held the WBA (Super), IBF and Ring magazine titles since 2019, and is ranked by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB) as the world’s best active pound-for-pound boxer. He previously held the WBO junior bantamweight title (2014-2018) and the WBC light-flyweight title (2014).
Clearly in his prime, the heavily favored Japanese fighter will finally get the opportunity to clean out the bantamweight division against Butler (34-2, 15 KOs), who captured the WBO’s interim title in April after a decision win over Jonas Sultan (18-6, 11 KOs).
Slated to face former WBO titleholder John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21 KOs) twice in the past, the 33-year-old Englishman was elevated to champion by the WBO after the Filipino fighter withdrew a second time and was stripped of his title.
Since losing a 2018 title fight to Emmanuel Rodriguez (20-2, 13 KOs), Butler has scored eight straight victories. An eighth-round TKO by Zolani Tete (30-4, 23 KOs) in a 2015 title bout marked Butler’s only other professional loss.
Nicknamed “The Baby Faced Assassin,” Butler now faces the toughest test of his pro career as the last man standing in the bantamweight division to face Inoue.
Widely acclaimed as Japan’s greatest-ever boxing champion, Inoue has firmly established himself as one of the world’s best boxers with his devastating power, blazing hand speed and ring smarts. In fact, only 3 of his 23 opponents to date have managed to go the distance against him.
Inoue demonstrated that uncanny power in his savage beatdown of the highly regarded Donaire in June. Claiming Butler’s WBO belt will pave the way for Inoue to step up to super bantamweight in 2023.
Discussing a possible unification bout with Butler back in June, Inoue said, “I haven’t watched his bouts in their entirety, but I can see he is a talented and aggressive boxer. If I can unify the four bantamweight titles this year, I would like to move up to the super bantamweight division.”
For his part, Butler has a chance to make boxing history in December, but faces long odds in dethroning such a dominant champion as Inoue.
Suffice it to say that most boxing fans and experts fully expect another spectacular performance and convincing victory from the monster man from Japan.