• Kyodo


Naoya Inoue rewrote his own Japan record with a 17th straight world title win on Tuesday as the IBF and WBA bantamweight world champion claimed an eighth-round technical knockout of the IBF's fifth-ranked challenger Aran Dipaen from Thailand.

Fighting his first bout in Japan in two years, the dominant Inoue mastered his sixth title defense as the WBA champion and the fourth as the IBF holder against resilient Dipaen at sell-out Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo.

Inoue outnumbered Dipaen with his punches, while the challenger did his best to wind up and unsettle the champion despite bleeding from his nose from an early round.

But "Monster" finally knocked Dipaen off balance in the seventh round with a right hook before flooring the challenger in the eighth with a left hook to the face.

Dipaen got back on his feet but another left hook from Inoue rattled him before the referee proclaimed Inoue the winner.

"I'm sorry it became a fight that fell way below the expected level. Dipaen was really tough," said Inoue. "It was good I could enjoy fighting eight rounds in a Japanese ring. Hopefully we can provide cards that fans want to watch next year."

It was Inoue's first fight in his home country since November 2019 when the 28-year-old beat Nonito Donaire of the Philippines by unanimous decision in the final of the World Boxing Super Series.

Inoue had last fought in June in Las Vegas when he cruised to another title defense by knocking out Michael Dasmarinas of the Philippines in three rounds.

Inoue, a former WBC light flyweight and WBO super flyweight champion, improved his record to 22-0 with 19 KOs, while the Thai challenger dropped to 12-3 with 11 KOs.

On the same card, Japan's Masataka Taniguchi became the WBO's new minimumweight champion after the top-ranked challenger secured an 11th-round technical knockout win over defending champion Wilfredo Mendez of Puerto Rico.

Taniguchi landed a hard left-handed blow and piled on pressure in the late round before the referee intervened to declare Taniguchi the winner as he improved to 15-3 with 10 knockouts.

Mendez, who had hit the canvas in the second round through Taniguchi's left counter, failed in his third title defense and dropped to 16-2 with six KOs.

"I've managed to change my life by winning the belt I've been after all the time," Taniguchi said. "It didn't have to be pretty or cool as I wanted to fight like a challenger."

Taniguchi had fallen to champion Vic Saludar of the Philippines when he made his first title challenge in February 2019.

"I'm over the moon. I've finally managed to be confident with myself that I've gotten far stronger from two years ago," Taniguchi said.

Dipaen's early arrival in Japan on Nov. 28 allowed for the bout with Inoue to go ahead at a time when other sporting events have been affected by the Japanese government's stricter border controls, introduced two days later, to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus's omicron variant.

A title unification bout between Japanese WBA titleholder Ryota Murata and IBF champion Gennady Golovkin on Dec. 29 was postponed, while the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final was canceled last weekend.

The bouts were not broadcast on terrestrial channels in Japan and were available on a pay-per-view basis.

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