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Naoya Inoue could lose to Murodjon Akhmadaliev & Stephen Fulton at 122

Image: Naoya Inoue could lose to Murodjon Akhmadaliev & Stephen Fulton at 122

By Huck Allen: Japanese superstar Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue may be biting off more than he can chew by choosing to go up to 122 to attempt to become the undisputed champion in a second weight class by going up against IBF/WBA champ Murodjon Akhmadaliev and WBC/WBO champ Stephen Fulton.\

Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) became the undisputed champion at bantamweight last Tuesday night by stopping the steely formidable WBO 118-lb champion Paul Butler (34-3, 15 KOs) by an eleventh round knockout at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.

That fight gave a brief glimpse of what’s in store for the 29-year-old ‘Monster’ Inoue when he moves up to the 122-lb division because he got a hit a lot by the 34-year-old Butler, who isn’t a big puncher by any stretch of the imagination, but he still got his pound of flesh.

WBC & WBO super bantamweight champion Fulton isn’t more of a puncher than Butler. Still, Fulton has skills that Naoya has never seen before during his ten-year professional career and enough pop on his shots to cause facial damage.

Stephen Fulton

The undefeated WBC & WBO super bantamweight champion Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) has the talent to take Inoue into the deep waters, wear him down in the same way that Butler was doing, and potentially score a stoppage.

That will be a tough fight for Inoue and easily one of the hardest of his career. Given Inoue’s issues against Donaire in 2018 and the problems Butler gave him, I don’t know that he beats Fulton.

The 28-year-old Fulton has impressive wins over these talented fighters:

  • Daniel Roman
  • Brandon Figueroa
  • Angelo Leo
  • Arnold Khegai
  • Paulus Ambunda

Roman, Figueroa, and Leo are all good enough to give Inoue headaches as Donaire did in their first fight. The fact that Fulton easily beat these three fighters says a lot about his ability and the threat he poses to Inoue.

Murodjon Akhmadaliev

An even more formidable fight for Inoue on paper is the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Murodjon Akhmadaliev (11-0, 8 KOs), who holds the IBF & WBA titles at 122 lb. He punches with significant power and has skills capable of throwing Inoue off balance.

YouTube video

Akhmadaliev, 28, has impressed the boxing world since turning professional in 2018. He’s considered by many to be the #1 fighter at super bantamweight and could be unbeatable, even against Inoue.

Akhmadaliev’s best wins

  • Ronny Rios
  • Jose Velasquez
  • Ryosuke Iwasa
  • Daniel Roman

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