No announcement yet.

Naoya Inoue vs Stephen Fulton: A High Voltage Duel in Japan 

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Naoya Inoue vs Stephen Fulton: A High Voltage Duel in Japan 

    Pressured by criticism, Stephen Fulton was convinced in the final months of 2022 that he had to offer a rematch to his countryman Brandon Figueroa, whom he defeated by majority decision in November of the previous year when they unified the 122-pound WBO and WBC belts.

    But Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) decided to alter his plans after Japan's Naoya “The Monster” Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) announced he was relinquishing his four bantamweight titles to try his luck in the super bantamweight division.

    “I was in talks with Brandon Figueroa back in November, before the Inoue fight,” said Fulton. “And I was only gonna do that because, you know, to silence the critics. Everybody was talking. ‘Oh, it was a close fight and this person won, this person won, this one lost.’ So, I wanted to silence the critics.”

    Fulton said that the course of his career changed when Inoue expressed that his immediate goal was to try to conquer a fourth world title after obtaining the WBC light flyweight belt in April 2014, the WBO super flyweight belt in December 2014, and the WBA featherweight belt in May 2018.

    “I told my coach, ‘I’m gonna have to go to Japan to fight him.’ And he didn’t understand. He was like, ‘Man, why would you do that?’ Same thing. ‘Why would you do that?’ And I said, ‘That’s a big fight.’ I said, ‘Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.’ And now, look where we at.”

    ESPN’s Mike Coppinger was the first to report that Fulton and Inoue had agreed to fight in Japan, possibly in May. However, Bob Arum specified that it could be earlier than that. “All that business is handled by our partner in Japan. They’ll let us know when it’s put together, but I’m confident that it will be. I think April, they’re talking about,” Arum stated.

    Inoue, who will turn 30 on April 10th, has former minimumweight world champion Hideyuki Ohashi as his manager-promoter and Top-Rank as the co-promoter. “I don’t think anybody beats Inoue. The Monster’ is ‘The Monster,’ and he’s ‘The Monster’ for a reason, and I’m really blessed to have pound-for-pound the three hardest punchers in boxing, and that’s Inoue, Beterbiev, and Tyson Fury,” commented Arum.

    In his last fight, Inoue anesthetized Paul "The Baby-Faced Assassin" Butler (34-3, 15 KOs) in the eleventh round, leaving Inoue with the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO 118-pound belts.

    Fulton, 28 years old and a native of Philadelphia, successfully defended the WBC belt in the super bantamweight division, defeating his countryman Daniel Román (29-4-1, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision in June of last year.

    For Inoue, who ranks among the best pound-for-pound fighters (Editor’s Note: TSS World Rankings provided by Matt McGrain show him ranked #1, P-4-P), it will be a good test, since none of his opponents at 118 pounds have been at Fulton's level. The only exception would be Nonito Donaire (42-7, 28 KOs), former world champion in several divisions and certain to be an International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee whom Inoue defeated twice, the second time by technical knockout in June of last year. Donaire was just shy of 40 and past his prime.

    Although he is aware that he will have countless adverse factors, such as the enthusiastic Japanese public, the time difference, and even the subjective opinions of the judges, who on countless occasions favor the local fighter, Fulton believes that he will come out with his arm raised. Fulton has height on Inoue and believes that his superior technical ability and the fact that he has consistently been fighting at 122 pounds are in his favor.

    “I need some excitement,” Fulton said. “I need some excitement. Nothing is exciting me no more. I feel like this is when I come alive. This is when I feel like everyone’s looking at me like, ‘Oh, his back is against the wall. Why is the champion going over to Japan?’ I called this fight back in 2021, 2020. I been said that. I said I’m gonna have to go to Japan and fight.”

    Article submitted by Jorge Juan Álvarez in Spanish.

    Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.