Inoue demolishes Fulton, wins WBC/WBO 122lb belts

Inoue Right Hand

By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda

“Monster” Naoya Inoue (25-0, 22 KOs), 121.75, impressively captured the WBC, WBO 122-pound belts when he maintained the pressure from the start, positively threw jabs and combinations and finally caught Stephen Fulton (21-1, 8 KOs), 122, to halt him at 1:14 of the eighth round on Tuesday at Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan. It was Naoya’s fourth division belt since he had previously acquired the 108, 115 and 118-pound titles. Inoue, 30, positively kept throwing jabs and stalking the defending champ in every round. Fulton, 29, occasionally attempted counters to the aggressive Japanese, who averted almost all of them and kept stinging lefts to had him bleeding from the nose in round four.

The eighth saw Inoue turn more aggressive, connecting a vicious right to the champ’s face. Stephen almost lost his equilibrium, and Naoya quickly follow it up with a looping left hook. Down he went. Fulton gamely pulled himself up and resumed fighting. Inoue swarmed over him, and cornered him with a flurry of punches. Referee Hector Afu, Panama, declared a halt when Fulton sank again with his back to the corner post. It was his second visit to the deck with the ref coming to his rescue.

The newly crowned champ jubilantly said, “I’m very happy to become the super bantamweight champion. I truly appreciate your supports and contributions to this great event.”

Then, his counterpart WBA, IBF champ Marlon Tapales climbed up to the ring, displaying his belts and facing the new champ Naoya. They will square off soon to unify four belts within this year, hopefully.

Promoter: Ohashi Promotions.


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  • Kudos to Fulton but he couldn’t find the answer.. not even close. He lost every round except possibly the 7th. I expected Fulton to win an early round or two but Inoue dominated.

  • Hahahahaha that’s what happened when you fight a truly champ not a Uber drivers

    Imagine fly up to there (Japan) to get your butt kicked out hahaha

    • Imagine being a guy online who doesn’t have the balls to get in the ring bashing another man for having balls to get in the ring.

        • So you pretend to be a gangster as well as a fighter in your fantasy life?

          I’m trying to do you a favor. You look really stupid to almost everyone.

    • Come on Carlos be wise and sensitive. Boxing is a honorable and truly tough sport. Don’t call men who train hard everyday and put their lives on the line uber drivers. Of course there are levels and Fulton simply failed at this level.

    • You can make fun of Fulton, but based on your own implicit definitions, where do you think you belong in the pecking order?

  • Great win by Inoue. Tough loss for the feather fisted Fulton who was a great Champion with little to no fire power.

    • I think you nailed it. He was naturally bigger but never was able to back him off.

  • No problem Fulton Can keep picking taxi drivers to keep impressing dumb assess

  • Now what are the doubters and haters going to say? That Fulton was overrated? No, he just got bested by an all time great. Face it.

    • Doubters and haters. You sound like a cornball. The Monster just proved that we should all believe the hype. That’s all.

  • Another cocky, loudmouth, full of himself “fighter” just got his ass kicked! Fulton, baby, if that beating didn’t humble you, I don’t know what will.

    • Mikey…..
      Its hard to beat a fighter that’s on the same juice as Manny Pac Man!!!!

      • And here we go. I bet all of your preferred fighters are clean as a whistle right?

      • Yeah and the proof is where? I get tired of these baseless accusations. Manny never once failed with usada. Neither has Inoue. I think that if you make that accusation without proof Inoue should be able to punch you in the face so you can gauge his power. Its only fair.

  • I think Inoue just made his case for being THE best fighter of his generation and one of the best small fighters of all time. The man’s a genius.

    • The complete package and entertaining as hell to watch!!!

      • Good description. I laughed as I thought I myself, “… exactly the opposite of Kambosos a few days ago.”

    • Anyone who refuses to take a drug test should not be considered the Best Fighter of any Class. Let’s Be Honest.

  • Well I was intrigued by how Inoue would handle Fultons style. No problem. Fulton couldn’t handle a guy as fast or faster than him that has good head movement and a varied attack. Fighting guys like Figueroa who won’t move their head is a different animal. Too obvious that the BS about the handwraps was getting your loss excuses off to a start early

    • its not the hand wraps, its the PED’s that allowed him to be victories; Let’s Be Honest.

      • Honesty don’t be dishonest. Your boy lost fair and square. Please don’t cry

  • I expected a bit more of Fulton. It was all Inoue from round #1, faster, stronger, and a destroyer.

    Fulton was timid and very conservative and economic.

    • Right there with you Tai. I’m very disappointed. This could impact the rest of his career. Where does he go now?

      • It will be very hard for Fulton to recover from this lost and be top dog or side A.
        I guess move up to 122 lbs and start from scratch and see if he does enough to get a title shot.
        On the other hand, maybe some of the 122lbs champs will be willing to give Fulton a shot for an easy fight.
        One way or another, Fulton we will have a hard time.

      • Fulton just needs to get back in the gym and prepare for his next fight.

  • I called and there it is. I knew he would use the body shot but I didn’t think he would use the Mayweather stomach shot so successfully. He set up Fulton and hit him with the right. Fulton is overrated. He showed nothing and was scared from the beginning and had to open up to try to win rounds and paid for it.

  • Any doubters left after this performance? Hand wraps what? He did it all, out boxed the supposed better boxer and got the vicious KO. The moment Fulton was tentative in the first round you knew he was in for a long night. I’m sure he was somewhat shocked at the speed and the boxing IQ, forget about the power. That was Fulton’s mistake coming into this fight, thinking he only had to worry about the power. Inoue made this look too easy. Unbelievable.

  • I take my hat off with Inoue my respect to him …he a truly solid champion

    If Spencer and Crawford don’t convinced them Inoue should be the #1 pxp list

    If any Spencer or Crawford win convincingly then Inoue should be minimum #2 in the pxp list

    What a boxer !!!!

  • Lest we forget, Fulton was up against an exceptional talent here in Inoue.

      • Yeah I am on suicide watch even though I wanted Inoue to win and think he is the best fighter I ever seen.

        • Now Harry, we all saw your pick for Fulton to ‘expose’ the overrated Inoue, as you put it. We all know you’re pro for the darker shade of fighter, and that’s okay, but when it’s time to eat crow. Man up, and pull up to the table casual.

          • You are still at it then, finding ways to bring your racism into boxing comments.

      • Everyone, I think we all need to pitch in, and buy Harry Sachs a pack of cigarettes. The dude is stressing out over Fulton getting KTFO.

    • I believe that they all have safe spaces withing walking distance of their kenn—homes.

  • Wonderful performance. Fulton’s hands came dowen and Inoue was able to land with a right with full power. I felt Inoue was in control of the fight.

  • Inoue is an all time great. One of the best I have seen in so many years.

    Congrats to Fulton on taking a big risk and chasing legacy fights. Keep moving forward man.

    • I support this post, and agree with Joe 100%. Great post, Joe. A+.

  • I just can’t believe it
    I expect Inoue to win
    But not that easy
    Fulton went from a lion to a little cute bird
    I just can’t fckn believe it

    Congratulations Inoue you are a really great champ

    • Does it matter that he refused to take a drug test? Why do we turn blind to this fact and allow Canelo and others test positive for PED’s and or fail drugs test and then act as if nothing happened; lets be honest.

      • Was he ever suspect before this fight? No. Was he ever caught red-handed with IVs in his arm post weigh-in as a masking agent for a post fight test? No. Just accept and enjoy that you are witnessing an all time great.

        At the lighter weight divisions, weight classes are 4-5 pounds different. Yes it makes a difference under normal circumstances, but Inoue has gone up as expected considering his age.

        His body is older and he can no longer male his original weight. His success comes down to living his life outside of the ring like a true warrior and respecting his body. It pays off. You don’t see puffy cheeks between fights so his weight doesn’t fluctuate. He can start training camp to work on a plan, not to get in shape.

      • He didnt refuse anything. Vada is voluntary and HE has to pay for it. A lot of American fighters dont do it either. Its a leech company and they already get tested by the sanctioning bodies. He shouldnt have to pay for it. Im glad you have something to complain to your diary about though. Cheers mate.

  • God bless the internet. There are already idiots out there saying Inoue should have been DQd for punching Fulton again after it looked like his glove touched the canvas

  • Lol love the Top Rank social media team tweeting out “That’s a WRAP”

  • Inoue is p4p the best fighter on the planet. Brilliant performance. He made a very good champion look ordinary and put all of his talents on full display. I know I’m not the only one here who shed a tear watching this. He is truly something special.

  • Tapales climbed into the ring. That will be fun to watch. Inoue will have less trouble with him.

    • Yes that is just a belt collecting fight. This card seems like a build up for Inoue vs Ramirez in 2024

    • Indeed you did:-) also if you look back at my old posts I’ve been saying that the monster is the number one pound for pound fighter before he even fully unified bantamweight. Spence/Crawford winner is p4p #2, no matter what happens.

      • The natural: I think I’m going to agree with you. He has won almost every fight in dominant fashion with exception of the first donaire fight. He then rematched and destroyed him. He would have my vote.

  • And still….number #1 p4p, and soon to be a two division four belt undisputed champion. Inoue can go on to be the GOAT. Tapales, then 126?

  • Not shocked by the result, Inoue has passed every test this far. Fulton has beaten some good fighters, but his style was pretty horrific to watch. Would love to see how much further in weight Inoue can go. He is that good. 130 possibly?

  • I belonged to those who underestimated Naoya’s technique and perhaps also team Naoya’s strategy. I thought Fulton might have a better chance of exploiting these so called flaws. Already during the first round I understood that I was deeply wrong.

    I liked Naoya’s slightly wait-and-see tactics. There was nothing rushed or stressed about his boxing. He was in complete control and calm throughout the fight.

    It’s strange how defensive boxers sometimes react if they don’t have an onslaught against them. They suddenly don’t know how to act. Wasn’t that the case with Fulton? He made some uncertain initiatives that were easy for Inoue to fend off.

    And that right that came like a bolt of lightning…much more need not to be said.

    An impressive performance by Inoue in a new weight class.

    Congratulations. Hats off.

  • If Inoue did not skip 112, he will be a Penta different weight champion.
    I wish he was bigger, so Inoue could compete with the higher weights

  • Truly incredible fight. I was picking Fulton to win a boring fight, but it wasn’t even close. Inoue sat back and controlled the distance with his sharp thudding jab. It forced Fulton to come forward to avoid the jab, and then he was where Inoue wanted him all along. It wasn’t Inoue’s power that impressed me most. It wasn’t his speed or his accuracy. It wasn’t his patience or his stamina. What impressed me most was his boxing IQ. He laid traps with traps inside of them.

    The #1 guy according to Boxrec at Featherweight has a loss to Fulton (even though I thought Figueroa won and think Leigh Woods is the best at Featherweight). Inoue could easily claim a featherweight title and even a jr. Lightweight. What a truly special fighter.

    • He laid traps with traps inside of them. That pretty much summed it all up to the victory.

  • He could become undisputed against Tapales at 122 before moving up. I agree that he could claim titles at 126 and 130, too. 135 may be a bridge too far.

    • I think this it it. Remember that careers are shorter at the lighter weight classes and Inoue is already 30 years old. He’s at the tail end of his peak. Maybe 3 great fights and the decline begins. He did not look starved at the weigh-in, so he might stay here.amd have others come to him.

  • Inoue is without a doubt amazing, at this current time moving up through 122, Tapales is a legit champion but not on Inoue’s level. 126 is an interesting division, none of the champions are elite. Lopez I think due to his really unusual style can be interesting, Ramirez due to his elite boxing skills, 2X gold medalist can be also interesting, they can be competitive but ultimately Inoue is better. 130lbs, O’foster and Valdez seem to be the top fighters in the division, but ultimately I think Inoue can best them both. Inoue can easily be unified, even undisputed in all of these divisions. 135lbs is were he will meet his match, both in his physical limits and technical but I feel he can still win a championship at this division.

  • Let that sink in for a moment. This dude just moved up in weight and won the title in his 4th division and we are already talking about how he would do 3 divisions higher.

  • Tapales should’ve handed over his belt to the Monster right then and there.

  • First I have to take my hat off to Fulton for taking the risk of going to Japan and taking on a top fighter. At least there was no controversial ending. No shame in losing. As for Monster, this dude is the real deal Holyfield!!!!!!

  • Fulton was never in the fight and Inoue toyed with him after round 1. Lets see if the Japanese boxer steps up and fights the other Champ

    • Step up???? More???? He already moved from 108 to 122 lbs (4 divisions)

  • I know all of the Race Fans are exalted. Didn’t see it, I’ll catch it tonight east coast time. Congrats to the Monster, that is a great accomplishment.

    • The only race fans on here are you and Harry Sachs. At least he’s manned up and
      given credit. Inoue pushed your boy’s shit in.
      Deal w/ it

  • Everyone, I think I am going to have sushi tonight. I want The Monster Roll.

  • I thought Fulton might give him more problems being bigger and being a good boxer. Maybe a potential Raheem – Morales situation. But it was obviously nothing like that. It reminded me how some otherwise fearless fighters would react when Pac would first touch them. Fulton seemed really tentative to engage very early which was not the case in his war with Brandon Fig. That said Fulton still deserves credit for going to Japan and taking the fight. He dared to be great but today it was not to be. Very weird watching a fight on a Tuesday morning. Because of COVID I work from home and it was decided that we were better off staying that way! Thus I get to see these fights at strange week day times!

  • Monster right hand is right! Then it was lights out with a godzilla left hook! Inoue has calfs that Pacman has!

  • Fulton, you came into the fight known as the Cool Boy. You underestimated Inoue, you were a Fool, Boy. Go back to the drawing board, bring back some Tools, Boy. You got millions now, go lounge at the Pool, Boy. 🙂 *I’ll show myself out*

  • Fulton IS a good fighter, but Inoue IS GREAT!!!!

    I thought Fulton would win some rounds and the size difference was palpable. I didn’t think he won a round. The 7th they said he outlanded Inoue, but I still felt Inoue won the round.

    It’s was a virtuoso performance plain and simple!

  • My favorite type of ending…no judges. Fulton did not take a sustained beating so he should be able to actually elevate his game after this loss.

    The hype media and several channels on YT made it seem like Fulton was going to box Inoue’s ears off and forgot that the monster can box his ass off as well.

    Sure, it’s all part of the marketing, but outside of the judges taking it from Inoue, his hand was going to be raised by stoppage or decision.

    The hand wrapping BS was not a factor here. Both corners got to view and or protest if needed.

  • Inoue such a great fighter. He’s very dignified and respectful too. I like that.

  • Next phase, unification bout , clobber that bloke then move up to featherweight and clean out that division. He seems to strike fear into his opponent before they actually fight,like a young on top of his game Mike Tyson I guess. A excitement machine.

  • Inoue reminders me as a smaller version of the prime Evander Holyfield at Cruiser and HW in the way he fights, all action, with all seriousness, and always fights to win. A great champion and a credit to our sport.

  • Fulton was outclassed the entire fight, he looked cautious and uncomfortable
    Monster was great on beating Fulton to the puch and relentless

  • It is our gain to be able to witness Inoue doing this in his prime. Some weight classes get the most “shine” but every so often you get someone in the lower weight classes that is a PFP great. I couldn’t watch this till last night, so had to keep away from the news. Awesome performance.

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