By Craig Daly: Naoya Inoue and WBC & WBO super bantamweight champion Stephen Fulton are in the works for April, says promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank.
Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) is moving up to the 122-lb division in hopes of capturing his fourth division world title and becoming the undisputed champion in a second weight class in 2023.
The Inoue vs. Fulton fight will take place in Japan if it successfully gets made. Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) feels confident that he’ll defeat the 29-year-old ‘Monster’ Inoue with his superior size and technical ability, which he believes will be more than a match for the hand speed & power of the Japanese star.
“My Japanese partner is working on, and that also is what we’re trying to get done in April,” said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum to Secondsout when asked about the fight between Stephen Fulton and WBC/WBO super bantamweight champion Stephen Fulton.
Fulton poised for stardom
If the 28-year-old Fulton beats Inoue, he’ll be a star overnight in the U.S., taking his career to another level.
Despite competing in a weight class that rarely garners much attention from American boxing fans, the Philadelphia native Fulton has the opportunity to become a star if he can conclusively defeat ‘Monster’ Inoue.
With that said, Fulton will likely be a huge underdog against the superstar Inoue when the fight is made, and he will need to shock the world by upsetting him.
The question is whether Inoue has finally overstepped himself by choosing to move up to his fourth weight class because he started his career out at 112 in 2012, and he’s moved through the weight classes effortlessly, defeating his foes with ease, capturing titles just as quickly along the way.
Inoue hasn’t mixed it with the best
What doesn’t get much scrutiny is the less-than-spectacular opposition that Inoue has faced. While he has won many titles, he’s not faced any elite opposition during his career.
Arguably the best fighter Inoue has faced during his ten-year professional career is Nonito Donaire, and he was 37 years old when he first fought him in 2019 in a grueling fight. This wasn’t the prime version of Donaire that Inoue fought, and yet he took a lot of punishment in the fight.
Aside from Donaire, the rest of the fighters that Inoue has on his resume are a mixed bunch of paper champions and B-level guys.
Inoue’s best opposition:
- Nonito Donaire
- Paul Butler
- Jason Moloney
- Emmanuel Rodriguez
- Juan Carlos Payano
- Jamie McDonnell
- Kohei Kono
- Omar Narvaez
- Adrian Hernandez
- Ryoichi Taguchi