By Keith Idec
Takuma Inoue isn’t necessarily a “Monster,” but technically, he now can call himself a world champion.
Naoya Inoue’s younger brother beat Petch CP Freshmart by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder Sunday to win the WBC’s vacant interim bantamweight title. Inoue won by the same score, 117-111, on all three scorecards at Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.
Inoue, 23, now owns a world title in the same 118-pound division within which his older brother, an elite-level fighter nicknamed “Monster,” holds the WBA world bantamweight championship. In addition to becoming the second world champion in his family, Takuma Inoue maintained his perfect record (13-0, 3 KOs).
The 25-year-old Freshmart (48-1, 33 KOs), who also goes by Tasana Salapat, fought outside of Thailand for the first time in his seven-year pro career. Freshmart’s record was built before Sunday largely against a very low level of opposition in his home country.
Freshmart remained dangerous until the final bell. He just couldn’t hurt Inoue, who used his legs well during the final two rounds and continued to box well to build upon his lead.
Freshmart fought from a right-handed stance in the 10th round and landed several shots to Inoue’s body. Inoue responded to Freshmart’s attack by blasting Freshmart with a straight right hand to his head, a right uppercut and a left hook to the body in the final minute of the 10th round.
Inoue snapped back Freshmart’s head with a counter right hand at the 17-second mark of the ninth round. Several seconds later, Inoue unloaded a left-right combination that backed up Freshmart.
Inoue dealt well with Freshmart’s pressure in the sixth, seventh and eighth rounds by pumping his jab, moving out of his opponent’s punching range, and landing occasional right hands and left hooks. A collision knocked Inoue off balance and into the ropes toward the end of the seventh round.
Freshmart forced Inoue to fight off his back foot for much of the fifth round and landed to Inoue’s body. Inoue blasted Freshmart with a straight right hand in the fifth round as well.
Inoue landed three left hooks within a 20-second span during the second half of the fourth round. A clean overhand right that buckled Freshmart’s knees was the best shot Inoue connected on during that fourth round.
Inoue clipped Freshmart with multiple short, straight right hands in the third round. He also drilled Freshmart with a flush left hook after missing a right hand in that third round.
Inoue had a strong second round.
He landed two hard overhand rights both just before and right around the midway mark of that round. Garza called for a brief break with 1:07 to go in the second for a ringside physician to examine a small cut on the bridge of Inoue’s nose, which was caused by an accidental clash of heads.
Once the action resumed, Ioune nailed Freshmart with a right-left combination. Later in the third, a cut opened around Freshmart’s left eye.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.