Inoue to make ambitious invasion in 122lb division against Fulton
By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Time will come soon. “The Monster” Naoya Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs), Japan, will have an ambitious shot at the WBC, WBO 122-pound belts against also unbeaten Stephen Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs), US, at the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan, on May 7. Naoya, formerly undisputed bantam four-belt kingpin, will aim for his fourth division championship after he completely renounced all the 118-pound belts last month in order to have a crack against the ringwise Fulton. It was announced by Ohashi Promotions today (Tuesday) in Tokyo. Inoue, 29, confidently said, “I’m happy to have this event eventually announced publicly. It is a challenge to myself that I’ll invade into the super-bantam category and make myself in a tip-top condition. It truly motivates me that I’ll welcome the big fight at my first fight after moving up to the 122-pound class.”
Inoue described his target Fulton, saying, “He is a taller boxer with a more advantageous reach. It might be hard to finish him, but I’d like to concentrate to be victorious, I believe I am more powerful and faster than Fulton. I don’t know at this moment what game plan I will take against Fulton.
Naoya moved up to 115 from 108 in 2014, again shifts to 122 this year. He said, “I previously showed a good performance in the first bout after moving up to the new division. Moving up to 122 might—its motivation—will produce a great power in me. I’ll look forward to myself. My motivation is highest ever in my career.”
Stephen Fulton, also 29, appeared on a video, saying, “I didn’t like to be regarded as an escaping dog against Inoue. Each will climb up to the ring by preparing each fight plan. I believe I’ll be victorious against whoever my opponent may be. Please expect a fantastic show.”
Fulton is about two inches taller than Inoue, but he is not a hard-puncher like Inoue but depends on his speed and skills. It will be shown by NTT Docomo’s new streaming service named “Lemino” in Japan while it will be streaming live on ESPN+ in US.
Promoter: Ohashi Promotions.