Takuma Inoue's career has now hit a career-high after winning his first world-level title and has another big fight waiting in the wings.
In the co-main event feature bout on the traditional New Year's Eve week boxing show in Japan, Inoue defeated Petch Sor Chitpattana by unanimous decision (117-111, 117-111, 117-111) to win the interim WBC bantamweight title. In the United States, the fight, which took place at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, opened an ESPN+ stream.
The fight started off with Inoue landing the straight right hand effectively, causing a cut near Chitpattana's right eye. Throughout the first couple of rounds, Chitpattana's head movement was almost nonexistent, allowing Inoue to let his hands go and take control of the fight early.
Chitpattana did manage to get back and starting landing punches, some to the body, but was still outmatched by Inoue. In the middle rounds, Inoue's punch output started to decrease and Chitpattana established his right hand to pressure Inoue.
Late in the ninth round, Inoue, with his back against the ropes, landed a right hand that caught Chitpattana off-balance and Inoue finished the round with a flurry of shots. In the 10th round, Inoue landed a body shot that stunned Chitpattana, reclaiming the momentum that he had in the early rounds. Chitpattana tried to come back pressure forward to Inoue, looking to work the body, but Inoue proved to be too much for Chitpattana to handle.
As the interim WBC champion, Inoue is also the mandatory challenger to the winner of the vacant WBC world title fight between Rau'Shee Warren and Nordine Oubaali. That title fight will take place on January 19, 2019 as part of the pay-per-view card headlined by Manny Pacquiao's WBA "regular" welterweight title defense against Adrien Broner in Las Vegas.
The WBC title was previously held by Luis Nery but was stripped of the belt after being missing weight before a title defense against Shinsuke Yamanaka earlier this year. After multiple attempts to stage a fight for the vacant title failed throughout the year, the WBC created an interim title despite still being no actual champion at the time.