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Inoue, Tapales clash in unification fight

MANILA, Philippines — Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue and Filipino Marlon Tapales will figure in a unification bout in the junior featherweight division at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo on Dec. 26.

Top Rank Inc. yesterday announced that Inoue will try to unify his WBC and WBO 122-pound titles with Tapales’ WBA and IBF crowns in the showdown right after Christmas Day.

The undefeated Inoue (25-0, with 22 knockouts), nicknamed “Monster,” will be the hands down favorite over Tapales (37-3, with 19 KOs), as the heavy-handed Japanese aims to become an undisputed champion in a second division.

“I want to show my overwhelming power and win, even in a fight like this where becoming undisputed champion in a second division is on the line,” the 30-year-old Japanese said.

“I want to knock him out,” he added.

The 30-year-old Inoue, who once ruled the bantamweight division, annexed the WBC and WBO belts by dominating the highly regarded former champion Stephen Fulton last July, stopping the American in eight rounds. It was a virtuoso performance that sealed Inoue’s place among the top pound-for-pound fighters on the planet right now.