Naoya “Monster” Inoue conquered the bantamweight division. He’s now moving up in weight to capture the biggest fish at 122 pounds.
Philadelphia’s WBC & WBO junior featherweight world champion, Stephen Fulton, will defend his titles against Japan’s pound-for-pound king Sunday, May 7, at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan. The showdown pits two of the world’s top fighters, as Inoue aims to become only the fifth Asian boxer to win world titles in four weight classes.
Fulton-Inoue and undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+ in a special early-morning presentation.
Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) is 19-0 with 17 knockouts in world title fights, a championship run that 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, including a second-round stoppage over Omar Narvaez. At bantamweight, Inoue became the division’s first undisputed champion in a half-century, stopping Emmanuel Rodriguez in two rounds to win the IBF strap, outlasting Nonito Donaire in the 2019 Fight of the Year to add the WBA belt, starching Donaire in the second round of their June 2022 rematch to snatch the WBC title, and stopping then-WBO champion Paul Butler in the 11th round. Inoue vacated all four bantamweight titles to move up four pounds for a shot at “Cool Boy Steph.”
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 11-month layoff. The 28-year-old Fulton, however, is the naturally bigger man, holding advantages in height and reach.