Boxing Tips: 11/2 shot among our Naoya Inoue v Marlon Tapales best bets

Our boxing tipster Matt Gipon has two value picks for Boxing Day's bout in Japan.

Naoya Inoue, december 2023

Boxing Tips

Inoue to Win in Round 4 – 6
A Knockdown in Round 5

Ariake Arena, Tokyo
Tuesday, December 26, 12pm (GMT)

TV: Sky Sports Action

    There is a huge bout this Boxing Day – pound-for-pound icon Naoya Inoue faces off against the latest Filipino fight-star Marlon Tapales in Japan for all the belts at 122 pounds. Both men hold two titles each, and although Naoya is still relatively new to the super bantamweight division he’s a massive favourite against his less well-known opponent.

    Japan loves a big event around the festive period, and this year the Ariake Arena in the south east of Tokyo hosts the local hero in his latest quest to make boxing history. It is the third card in a row that Inoue has headlined at the venue, including when ‘The Monster’ became undisputed at 118-pounds last year.

    Naoya is justifiably seen as such a dominant force that he’s even odds-on to win by KO, but if we dig a little deeper there are still a couple of bets offering plenty of value.

    Inoue To Win In Round 4 – 6

    In 25 fights Inoue has won by KO in 22 of them, and in the last seven years he’s only been taken the distance once. And the Japanese maestro hasn’t been fighting your average opponents either, his last 20 contests have all been for world titles.

    Tapales’ path hasn’t been as straight forward, he turned professional at 16 in 2008 but at 17 he was stopped for the first time. He eventually won a world title at bantamweight in 2016, but when he moved to 122-pounds in 2019 he was knocked out again. And then in April this year, ‘Nightmare’ scored a shock split decision win over the unbeaten Murodjon Akhmadaliev.

    The only fighter to give Inoue, 30, any trouble was another Filipino phenom, Nonito Donaire. The legendary little man of the Philippines managed to break Naoya’s eye socket in the second round, and the contest was declared the 2019 Fight of the Year. In 2022, Inoue set the record straight and annihilated Donaire in two rounds.

    Over the course of his career, Inoue has faced all shapes and styles, and, even though Tapales is a sharp southpaw, he won’t bring anything he hasn’t seen before. Truth be told, Marlon performed very well against Akhmadaliev, but the Uzbek wasn’t at his best.

    Tapales has a good jab, a clever and heavy backhand, and quick feet, but he’s been dropped by several opponents. When Inoue has an opponent in trouble he doesn’t let them off the hook. I expect the favourite to be able to hurt the underdog within a few rounds and get the finish before the midway point of the scheduled 12 rounds.

        Marlon Tapales, december 2023

        A Knockdown In Round 5

        One concern for Inoue fans could be that he’s a bit undersized at super bantam having moved all the way up from 108 pounds at the start of his career. But Tapales has made the same journey through the weights, and Inoue will actually have the height and reach advantage on Tuesday.

        ‘The Monster’ won his super bantam belts from Steph Fulton, a fighter who many believed was on the cusp of the pound-for-pound Top 10. Fulton is slick and has the physical advantages over Inoue, but the Japanese man dominated the bout and scored a comprehensive KO win in the 8th round.

        Tapales has been dropped in round five a couple of times before and I think that could happen again on Boxing Day. The four-weight world champion is looking to join Terence Crawford as the only men who have been undisputed in the four belt-era in two different divisions, and I expect him to do it in style.

          Naoya Inoue v Marlon Tapales Betting Tips

          Inoue to Win in Round 4 – 6
          A Knockdown in Round 5

          *All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

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