Stephen Fulton reflects on loss to Naoya Inoue: “I’m a champion no matter what”

By Boxing News - 07/25/2023 - Comments

By Jim Calfa: Stephen Fulton Jr (21-1, 8 KOs) had an upbeat attitude in the aftermath of his rout at the hands of Naoya Inoue (25-0, 22 KOs), losing his WBC & WBO super bantamweight titles in an eighth round knockout defeat on Tuesday night in Tokyo, Japan.

After the fight, the 29-year-old Fulton still viewed himself as a champion despite the one-sided defeat he’d suffered at the hands of the smaller Inoue.

The previously unbeaten Fulton looked like he wasn’t mentally disengaged and not doing what he needed to for him to have a fighting chance of winning.

Stephen Fulton: “I’m not feeling bad because I’m a champion no matter what. I’m very disappointed in my performance, but I can’t allow that to dictate who I am as a person. I went out like a man, so I hold my head up like a man.

“He was how I expected. It was just me.”

Fulton looked scared entire fight

What was disappointing bout Fulton’s performance is how scared he looked and gunshy, seemingly afraid to throw his shots after getting tagged repeatedly by the hard jabs from the ‘Monster’ Inoue in the first round.

As we saw with Fulton; fear causes hesitation, and once you hesitate, you’ve lost. He looked scared out of his wits, so he wasn’t going to take a chance on himself by attacking Inoue and maybe getting lucky with a well-placed shot.

The fight was basically over after the first round, as that was when Fulton decided he wasn’t going to let his hands go for fear of getting hit by one of Inoue’s hard counters.

Fulton did land occasional shots in rounds two through seven, but they were too far and few in between to damage Inoue.

Also, Fulton’s lack of power hurt his chances of winning. If he had crushing power, he might have broken Inoue’s face like Nonito Donaire did in their first fight. Inoue’s facial bones were almost bird, fracturing like fine china dishes under the pounding from Donaire.

Fulton can’t punch,  though, and he was never going to win fighting on the outside, focusing on connecting with a few shots each round.

As Tim Bradley pointed out, Fulton needed to be in close proximity because he was at the mercy of Inoue’ss sharp jabs and potshots when he was on the outside. However, even when Fulton did get in close, he was ineffective because he had no inside game and was getting bullied by Inoue.

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