By Jake Tiernan: WBC & WBO super bantamweight champion Stephen Fulton and Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue have begun negotiations for a fight in the spring in Japan.
Inoue will be giving away size & reach against Fulton, who is one of the best boxers in the sport. It’s fair to say that if Inoue can’t land one of his big bombs to score a knockout, he’s going to end up getting outboxed by Fulton.
Fulton’s super high punch volume could overwhelm Inoue, as the Japanese star has a low work rate because of his habit of loading up on his shots, always looking for quick knockouts. If Fulton throws over 1000+ punches in the fight, which he frequently does in his fights, Inoue will be miserable.
One thing to note about Inoue is that he doesn’t react well when getting hit a lot. In Inoue’s fights against David Carmona and the first match against Nonito Donaire, he was visibly upset with all the shots he was taking and lost his cool.
Inoue might go to pieces if Fulton averages 100 punches thrown per round, and he might not be able to handle getting hit 50 to 60 times per round without bailing out.
There would be no shame in losing to a fighter of Fulton’s level, but that would be a major blow to Inoue’s ego to get beaten for the first time and suffer a failure.
Inoue would need to give up on his dream of becoming an undisputed champion at 122, which might be too much of a reach for him. While the Japanese star has done great things in winning titles at 112, 115 & 118, there are physical limits to what even he can do.
There’s a ceiling that Inoue could hit by going up against the bigger fighter Fulton at 122, but you’ve got to respect him for at least trying. A fight like this could expose Inoue’s lack of boxing skills, as he’s become way too reliant on scoring knockouts over his opponents at the expense of developing his technical ability.
If the talks are successful, Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) will be defending his two 122-lb titles against the former three-division world champion Inoue (23-0, 21 KOs), who will be seeking his four division world title against the Philadelphian native.
“Stephen Fulton and Naoya Inoue are engaged in talks for a unified 122-pound title fight in the spring in Japan,” said Mike Coppinger to ESPN.
Besides looking to win his fourth division title, the 29-year-old Japanese superstar Inoue hopes to become the undisputed champion at super bantamweight by collecting the four belts.
Inoue reportedly doesn’t plan on moving up to 126 if he’s successfully collecting all the straps at bantamweight. If Inoue were to move up to featherweight, he would deal with fighters like Robeisy Ramirez, Mauricio Lara, Leigh Wood, and Brandon Figueroa.
It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Inoue could collect a world title or two at 126, but it would be a lot tougher for him to try and capture all four straps without suffering a defeat due to the size of those fighters.
In Inoue’s last fight on December 13th, he defeated WBO bantamweight champion Paul Butler by an eleventh round knockout to become the undisputed 118-lb champion in a fight that took place at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.