Naoya Inoue made WBO ‘Super Champion’ at 118, can become Stephen Fulton’s mandatory at 122

By Huck Allen: Undisputed bantamweight champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue has been made the WBO ‘Super Champion’ at 118, meaning that he can become the mandatory for WBC/WBO 122-lb champion Stephen Fulton’s WBO strap if he petitions the sanctioning body.

Inoue wants to become the undisputed champion at super bantamweight rapidly in 2022. If Inoue can accomplish that feat, it would make him a two-division undisputed champion, which is unheard of.

The 29-year-old ‘Monster’ Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) revealed that he plans on moving up to super bantamweight in his next fight earlier this month when he defeated WBO 118-lb champion Paul Butler by an eleventh round knockout on December 13th in an undisputed clash in Tokyo, Japan.

Given the risk that Inoue presents, he’ll likely need to go the mandatory route to get an immediate title shot against WBO super bantamweight champion Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) because it’s not in his best interest to take this dangerous fight and ruin the excellent situation the Philadelphia native has got with him possessing two titles at 122.

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It’s not without risk that Inoue is going up to 122 to challenge Fulton for his two belts. Fulton, 28, is an outstanding fighter with recent impressive victories over talented fighters:

  • Daniel Roman
  • Brandon Figueroa
  • Angelo Leo

Fulton didn’t just beat those guys. He dominated them in one-sided fights, displaying boxing skills unmatched in the super bantamweight division.

It’s fair to say that if Inoue is unable to score a knockout of Fulton like he’s done in five of his last six fights, he’s going to be in for a difficult night. Fulton, 5’6 1/2″, will have the height and reach over the 5’5″ Inoue, and he’ll be looking to utilize that.

‘Monster’ Inoue would probably have an easier time getting an immediate title shot against IBF/WBA super bantamweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev. That fight would be a tough fight as well for the Japanese star.

Inoue dominated his last opponent, 34-year-old Butler, knocking him down in the 11th round to get a stoppage.

When the contest was waived off, Inoue was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards by 100-90, 100-90, and 100-90. Inoue out-landed Butler 151 to 38 in total punches. It would have been far more if not for Butler being on his bike the entire contest.

It’s possible that Inoue might not get an actual test until he moves up to the featherweight division [126] and mixes it with champions Rey Vargas and Luis Alberto Lopez.