In an awe-inspiring display of skill and dominance, Naoya Inoue achieved greatness that surpassed all expectations.
On a momentous Tuesday night in Tokyo, he did not just defeat Stephen Fulton Jr., a larger and formidable opponent; he completely humiliated the former 122-pound titleholder, leaving no doubt about his supremacy in the ring. The climax of his extraordinary performance came in the eighth round, as he delivered a breathtaking knockout that will be etched into the annals of boxing history.
With this remarkable victory, Inoue reached the pinnacle of success, becoming a four-division champion, a testament to his versatility and talent. Even more significant, his resounding triumph bolstered the claim that he stands as the unequivocal best fighter on the planet. The electrifying showcase of Inoue's skills has solidified his position among the elite, leaving both fans and critics in awe of his remarkable abilities.
“I returned all my [118-pound] belts to become a super bantamweight champion,” Inoue said through a translator as he stood in the ring afterward. “All I was thinking about was a fight against [Fulton] this year. … I’m so happy right now.”
Naoya Inoue (25-0, 22 KOs) captured the undisputed 118-pound championship in December by defeating Paul Butler but relinquished the titles to pursue even greater accomplishments. This led him to face the best 122-pounder in the world, Stephen Fulton, who courageously agreed to fight Inoue on his home turf despite being an American fighter.
From the outset, Inoue showcased his breathtaking skills, utilizing lightning-fast jabs and powerful punches that made Fulton hesitant to engage. While Fulton attempted to make the fight more competitive, he struggled to open up for fear of Inoue's devastating power shots.
In Round 8, disaster struck for Fulton as Inoue's precision right hand followed by a left put him on the canvas. Referee Hector Afu intervened to protect the overmatched Fulton, resulting in Inoue claiming the WBC and WBO belts.
This exemplary performance solidified Inoue's status as a boxing master, garnering admiration in his home country and beyond. While some may compare him to Terence Crawford in terms of pound-for-pound ranking, Inoue's showcase against Fulton stands as a remarkable achievement.
Now, Inoue's goal is to become the undisputed champion by facing IBF and WBA champ Marlon Tapales, with a potential unification fight on the horizon as soon as November. At only 30 years old, Inoue's journey is far from over, and he continues to build his legendary status in the sport of boxing.
“I want to fight Naoya Inoue because I want to prove that I’m a champion,” Tapales said.
Of course, there’s a difference between holding one or two of the many alphabet titles and establishing yourself as a truly special fighter, as Inoue underscored once again against Fulton.
One might already feel sorry for Tapales.