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Home » Naoya Inoue secures another step on legacy world title journey

Naoya Inoue secures another step on legacy world title journey

Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue has secured another step on a journey destined to cement his place in the boxing history books.

“Monster” conquered the bantamweight division. He’s now increasing weight to capture one of the biggest fish at 122 pounds.

On May 7 in Japan, Inoue challenges Stephen Fulton after giving up his clutch of undisputed titles at 118 pounds.

Philadelphia’s Fulton holds the WBC and WBO super bantamweight crowns. He puts them on the line against the Pound for Pound number two at Yokohama Arena.

The showdown pits two of the world’s top fighters in the lower weight categories. With success, Inoue aims to become only the fifth Asian boxer to win world titles in four weight classes.

Naoya Inoue

Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) is 19-0 with 17 knockouts in world title fights. His championship run started in 2014 when he knocked out Adrian Hernandez for the WBC light flyweight world title.

He went on to rule the junior bantamweight division with seven title defenses. That run included a second-round stoppage over Omar Narvaez.

Inoue became the division’s first undisputed champion at bantamweight in a half-century. To secure all the belts, Inoue defeated Emmanuel Rodriguez in two rounds to win the IBF strap.

He then outlasted Nonito Donaire in the 2019 Fight of the Year to add the WBA belt. In the rematch, he starched Donaire in their second round to snatch the WBC title.

Completing the extraordinary feat, he stopped then-WBO champion Paul Butler in the eleventh round.

Inoue subsequently vacated all four bantamweight titles to move up four pounds for a shot at “Cool Boy Steph.”

Stephen Fulton

Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) turned pro in 2014 and defeated five undefeated prospects in his first 12 bouts.

In January 2021, he defeated Angelo Leo to capture the WBO junior featherweight world title. Ten months later, he added the WBC belt to his collection with a majority decision over then-unbeaten Brandon Figueroa in one of the year’s most action-packed championship showdowns.

Fulton defended both titles last June with a one-sided unanimous decision over former unified world champion Daniel Roman.

Fulton will enter the Inoue bout, his first away from American soil, coming off an eleven-month layoff.

The 28-year-old Fulton, however, is the naturally bigger man. He holds advantages in reach and height.

Fulton vs Inoue and undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+ in a special early-morning presentation from Japan.

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