Inoue targets the undisputed world bantamweight title against Butler

Japan’s Naoya Inoue said on Saturday that he intends to prove he rules the bantamweight world when Paul Butler faces England in Tokyo next week for the undisputed title.

The hard-punching Inoue, nicknamed “The Monster”, aims to become the first world bantamweight champion in today’s boxing world by adding Butler’s WBO title to his WBC, WBA and IBF belts.

The undefeated 29-year-old said he intends to move to the super-bantamweight division after capturing all four bantamweight belts and is confident he will complete his mission on Tuesday.

“Having four belts will prove that I am the number one bantamweight, so I need this belt very much,” Inoue told reporters in Yokohama.

“When I get all four belts then I’ll decide what’s next, whether it’s moving up to middleweight to super-bantamweight or whatever.”

A victory for Inoue would make him only the ninth straight world champion out of a four-time belt that began in 2004, and the first in the bantamweight division.

He claimed the WBC title by knocking out Filipino veteran Nonito Donaire within two rounds in a fight last June.

Four-year-old Butler took on the vacant WBO title against former champion John Riel Casimero when he defeated Jonas Sultan by unanimous decision in April.

He was promoted to full champion the following month, when he stripped Casimero of the WBO title.

Butler said the fans knew his place in boxing immortality when he entered the ring.

“It’s not just that I’d be the first bantamweight to do it, I’d probably be the first Englishman to win four belts at this age,” said the Ellesmere Port fighter.

“I think Lennox Lewis was the oldest. Since then nobody has done that in the four belt ages so it’s a huge fight for me and a huge fight for England.”

Inoue became the first Japanese boxer to top Ring Magazine’s prestigious pound-for-pound ranking of the best fighter across all weight divisions after his masterstroke against Donaire.

He built up Donaire in the first round, then continued to attack in the second, again dropping the decision with a left hand, the referee ordered a stoppage of the fight.

Inoue will enter Tuesday’s bout as the heavy favorite, but Butler warned that his style is “very different to Donaire’s.”

“He’s the one who uses the full 12 rounds,” Inoue said.

“Of course I’m ready to beat him even if it’s a long fight. Whether I win by knockout or by points, I want to show the excellence of boxing,” he added.

“I want to give a boxing display unlike anything that has come before.”


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