Naoya Inoue has become a four-division world champion. Could he possibly go for undisputed within the year?
Some said that the clash between Naoya Inoue and Stephen Fulton was the true super fight of the week (ahead of the upcoming Errol Spence Jr. versus Terrence Crawford showdown on July 29).
While not a lot of people believed that this was the case, Naoya Inoue made sure that it was a spectacular event regardless as he made light work of undefeated American champion, Stephen Fulton.
The Monster from Japan looked completely comfortable in his new weight class from the get-go as he came out with a flat-footed — a boxing stance that fighters take when they’re looking to land power shots.
Fulton, on the other hand, seemed to play right into the gameplan of his foe as he donned a(n overly) wide stance and fought small, looking to counter.
Inoue was evidently having his way as he was winning exchanges, effectively darting in and out, and was obviously landing the more significant blows — proof of which was Fulton’s bloody nose by the end of the third round.
Both fighters built up a better rhythm from the fourth through to the sixth rounds. Even then, however, despite the rounds being a tad more competitive, it would be difficult to try and score rounds for the American, Fulton, as Inoue’s activity is what dictates the action.
Halfway through the match scheduled for 12 rounds saw a major adjustment from Fulton. He started to fight tall and look to manage the distance which gave him success and (for me) his first round won in the fight as he catches the Japanese challenger with two impeccably flush shots. The proud Japanese tried to retaliate but his aggression wasn’t as effective as he had to re-adjust to the distance being set by his opponent.
As the old adage goes, don’t poke the bear — or in this case, the monster. Just as Fulton seemingly got some wind in his sails from a successful 7th round, the monster came roaring back! Eager to get payback for the clean shots he got hit with, the beginning of the end came with a fast and powerful 1-2-3 (jab, straight, hook) combination that put the American champion on the canvas.
And while Fulton’s championship spirit and pride wouldn’t let him stay down, he got up on visibly wobbly legs. Inoue’s killer instinct took over and as soon as he smelled blood, never let his opponent off the hook and pummeled him on the corner forcing the referee to stop the fight.
Watch the highlights here:
And just like that, Naoya Inoue becomes a four-division world champion and the newest super bantamweight belt-holder. From the way he dominated, it looks like a run at becoming undisputed at 122 lbs is also in the cards with Filipino Marvin Tapales being the mandatory opponent.
Curiously, Tapales who was present at the Ariake Arena managed to find himself on stage. He not only congratulated the newly crowned champion but also declared that he wants a crack at the undefeated Japanese monster who has just been on a tear.
“I want to fight Naoya Inoue because I want to prove myself that I’m a champion,” Tapales says.
“Let’s do this, this year,” Inoue replies.
Banner image from Naoya Inoue on Instagram.