By Vince D’Writer: In one of the most anticipated fights of the year 2023, two of the best in the sport of boxing clashed as Naoya Inoue defeated Stephen Fulton (21-1, 8 KOs) by eighth round stoppage and won the WBC/WBO super-bantamweight titles on Tuesday July 25th at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.
Prior to the bout, a controversial issue developed in regards to the way Naoya Inoue hands are wrapped. Stephen Fulton’s trainer accused Inoue of using extra layers of tape that ultimately forms a cast.
The way Inoue usually gets his hands wrapped are within the rules in Japan. However, Naoya Inoue decided to adhere to the demands of the Fulton camp, and on fight night Inoue’s hands were wrapped the traditional way.
In the opening round of the 122-pound championship bout, Stephen Fulton decided to stand in the pocket and fire his jab. Naoya Inoue started the round by using head movement and foot feints, but by the midway point of the opening round Inoue was connecting with a strong jab of his own.
The challenger Naoya Inoue had a solid second round as he worked off the jab and landed multiple combinations. In the 3rd round of the championship bout, Inoue experienced success changing levels with the jab, and then firing the overhand right.
Fulton connected with a lead right hand in the fourth, and then he proceeded to go on the defensive. Once Fulton picked up his offense later in the same round, he was able to land some solid single shots, but he was unable to put any combinations together.
In the 5th round Fulton landed a three-punch combination that was probably his best sequence of the fight. Inoue would deliver a response as the two fighters ended the round by exchanging shots, but close to the midway point of the fight it seemed as if Inoue was the faster fighter, who was in complete control of the bout.
As the bell rang to start the 7th round, Inoue came out and continued to connect with the jab to the defending champion’s body. Fulton responded by landing a solid combination, but later in the same round, Inoue exploded as he landed multiple combinations.
In the 8th round, Inoue jabbed down to the body, and proceeded to land a overhand right followed by a left hook that sent Stephen Fulton down to the canvas. Fulton was able to get up, but once the fight continued, Inoue hit Fulton with a massive flurry of shots that forced the referee to step in and put a halt to the contest.
With the victory, Naoya Inoue won the WBC/WBO super-bantamweight titles, and he also achieved the status of being a four-division world champion. It’s not surprising that Inoue was victorious, but what is surprising is the way he defeated Fulton with ease.
The Inoue-Fulton clash was exciting to see, but it lacked drama as Fulton was thoroughly outclassed. Naoya Inoue beat Fulton by utilizing his speed, exceptional shot selection, accuracy, and his devastating punching power.
Naoya Inoue (25-0, 22 KOs) won championship gold in a fourth division, but the new WBC/WBO super-bantamweight champion isn’t done yet. Inoue is a former undisputed bantamweight world champion, and he plans on becoming undisputed a second time, this time in the super-bantamweight division.