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It's official: Inoue, Tapales set for title unification showdown

MANILA, Philippines – Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue and Filipino Marlon Tapales are set to collide to determine the undisputed king of boxing’s junior featherweight division.

Top Rank Inc. on Wednesday announced that Inoue will unify the World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) 122-pound championships with the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Association titles currently held by Tapales, in a unification showdown set December 26 at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.

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.

The 30-year-old Inoue 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.

Top Rank chairman and veteran promoter Bob Arum is very high on Inoue.

“The sensational Naoya Inoue astounds with every performance. We are witnessing an all-time great fighter in the prime of his career,” Arum said.

Arum though pointed out that Tapales will not be a pushover

“He (Inoue) has a very difficult task at hand on December 26 against a tough, powerful Filipino champion in Marlon Tapales, but I am confident ‘The Monster’ will pass this test with flying colors,” added the man who used to promote Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao.

Tapales, for his part, is determined to shock the world and hand the heavily favored Inoue his first loss.

The 31-year-old Filipino is in the thick of training at his camp in Las Vegas in the United States, aiming to pull off what 24 other fighters before him — including the great Nonito Donaire Jr. — failed to do so.

Tapales, who calls himself “Nightmare” won the other half of the world titles by outpointing Murodjon Akhmadaliev last April.