By: Sean Crose
If all goes well, 2023 will be remembered as a year where major fights went down in the sport of boxing, a year where the best took on the best repeatedly. Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia, Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk, Errol Spence-Terence Crawford (though that one doesn’t look too promising), Vasyl Lomachenko-Devin Haney, Canelo Alvarez-Dmitry Bivol 2, these are highly anticipated bouts that may well become reality within the next 12 months or so. And now reports that Naoya Inoue may throwdown with Stephen Fulton in the spring have emerged, courtesy of ESPN. It’s exciting for fans, frankly. And the fans most certainly deserve a fight of this caliber after late 2022, where longed for potential matchups simply evaporated into thin air.
Without doubt, Inoue-Fulton is one of the best fights that can be made in the sport. Not only do these fighters have some of the best nicknames in all of boxing (“The Monster” and “Cool Boy Steph” respectively), neither man has ever tasted defeat. And they’ve got enough world title belts between them to fill a glass cabinet. Inoue has won 7 world titles in three different weight divisions. He was last seen winning the undisputed bantamweight championship of the world in December when he stopped Paul Butler in 11. Fulton, on the other hand currently holds the WBC and WBO junior featherweight titles in his possession.
Inoue, of course, would like to add those belts to his own impressive collection. Having polished off the entire bantamweight division, the 29 year old Japanese fighter is looking forward to bigger things. Philly’s Fulton, however, is no joke. Last seen in action cruising past Daniel Roman back in the spring, the 29 year old is as sharp as they come in the ring. Fast, accurate, and possessing excellent footwork, Fulton knows how to employ a premier level fight plan and has the confidence and athleticism to carry it out.
Yet Inoue is something different. As Boxing Insider’s 2022 fighter of the year, the man tore through his competition like the star attraction that he is. As I wrote at the time, “in a career that’s lasted a bit over ten years, Japan’s Inoue has become a world titlist in three weight divisions and currently has a resume of twenty-four wins against zero losses. What’s more, all but three of those wins have come within the distance. Inoue, as is quite obvious, can hit. Hard. He also closes the show in wildly impressive fashion.”
Something Futlon, who looks as if he may bravely travel to Inoue’s home country to face the man, might want to keep in mind.
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