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Boxing: Japan's Inoue becomes undisputed bantamweight champion with KO

29-year-old's record improves to 24-0 with knockout of Britain's Paul Butler

Naoya Inoue of Japan defeated Britain's Paul Butler by technical knockout on Dec. 13 to become the world's undisputed bantamweight champion at Tokyo's Ariake Arena. (Photo by Yo Inoue)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- With lightning-quick reflexes and more than a touch of flair, Japanese boxer Naoya "the Monster" Inoue became the world's undisputed bantamweight champion with an 11th-round knockout of Britain's Paul Butler on Tuesday night.

The crowning accomplishment at Tokyo's Ariake Arena improved the 29-year-old's record to 24-0 with 21 knockouts as he added Butler's WBO title to his own WBA, WBC and IBF belts. The 34-year-old Butler fell to 34-3 with 15 KOs.

Inoue became the ninth undisputed champion since the four-belt era began in 2004, and the first Japanese to do so.

In what he said would be his final bout as a bantamweight before moving up to super bantam, Inoue dominated from the opening bell, starting slowly but turning up the intensity and showmanship as the fight developed.

"Today on Dec. 13, I achieved my goal," Inoue told the crowd after the fight. "Bantamweight is no easy division, and I was able to unify all four championships by taking each fight as being of the utmost importance as I pursued my objective."

"Now with four titles, I'm thinking about moving up to super bantam."

Naoya Inoue of Japan dominated Paul Butler in their bantamweight championship bout on Dec. 13 in Tokyo, at times taunting the British boxer. (Photo by Yo Inoue)

After 10 rounds of keeping up with Inoue despite having his back to the ropes for most of the fight, Butler finally hit the canvas in the 11th round under yet another flurry of blows from Inoue.

From the second round, Inoue began trapping the WBO champ in the corners, pummeling him and then leaning away from and dodging the bulk of Butler's blows. When the Briton declined to come after him, Inoue would lower his guard and lean toward his opponent.

When the two stared each other down in the sixth round, Inoue egged Butler on, flapping his arms and playing to the crowd. Butler took the bait, charged forward and was greeted with a stunning combination for his trouble.

In the eighth round, Inoue taunted Butler again, going as far as holding his gloves behind his back, dodging away from his opponent's counterattack.

Inoue more than made good on his pre-fight boast to put on a show of high-quality technical boxing. Throughout the fight, he weaved and bobbed away from his opponent's punches and, like a bantamweight Muhammad Ali, mixed in one of the late heavyweight champ's shuffles.

There was only a touch of bragging at the end, however, when he thanked Butler, who stayed on his feet far longer than most of Inoue's opponents.

"I am grateful to Butler and his camp for coming to Japan and making this fight possible. I was glad I was able to box a lot longer tonight for you fans," said Inoue.

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