By: Sean Crose
Twenty-three wins. Zero losses. All but three victories coming by way of knockout. Naota Inoue is most certainly in possession of a terrify resume. But this is no padded record. In a career that has lasted for ten years, the man known as “The Monster” has taken on a whose who of prominent figures in some of the sport’s lower weight divisions, subsequently winning world titles at junior flyweight, super flyweight and bantamweight. Now, as he closes in on the age of thirty, Inoue will face the thirty-four and two Paul Butler in his Japanese homeland Tuesday.
Paul, owner of the WBO bantamweight title, is no slouch. The Englishman is an effectively patient boxer as well as an excellent counter puncher. Still, Inoue is the prohibitive favorite walking in on Tuesday – and with good reason. For it’s hard not to see the man in action without being impressed. The IBF, WBA, and WBC bantamweight champion clearly has wonderful foundational skills, but what’s notable about Inoue is that he doesn’t so much think in the ring as he does perform, seemingly on autopilot.
That’s not a criticism. To the contrary, it’s a testament to the man’s natural talent, which he has obviously honed into a razor sharp skill set through massive amounts of hard work. There’s a reason Inoue appears at or near the top on so many pound for pound lists – because he belongs there. With that in mind, shocking things happen in boxing with what almost seems like regularity. Should Butler play Buster Douglas to Inoue’s Mike Tyson in Japan (where Tyson-Douglas went down) on Tuesday, he will end up having a name well regarded throughout the fight world. To achieve such a stunning upset, however, Butler will have to put in nothing less than a monster effort against Inoue.
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