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PREVIEW: Stephen Fulton vs Naoya Inoue


Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

WBC/WBO super bantamweight champion Stephen Fulton will attempt to defend his unified titles Tuesday morning, when he meets three-division titleholder Naoya Inoue in one of the year’s biggest matchups. The bout will headline an ESPN/ESPN+ card from the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.


Originally, the fight was set for May 7, but a hand injury forced Inoue out of the bout and it was rescheduled for July 25th.


Fulton (21-0, 8 KO) began his world title reign after decisioning Angelo Leo back in January 2021 for the WBO belt, and since then, the Philly native has defended his world title twice—both decisions against Brandon Figueroa (where he picked up the WBC title) and Daniel Roman. But with just eight knockouts in 21 fights, will Fulton possess enough force in his punches to keep the hard-punching Inoue off of him?



In fact, Inoue (24-0, 21 KO) has not gone the distance since his classic first meeting with Nonito Donaire back in November 2019. After becoming undisputed champion at bantamweight after his last fight against Paul Butler in December, “The Monster” will now be looking to have captured world titles in four different weight classes.



Tuesday’s matchup can truly be considered a hardcore fight fan’s dream: two unbeaten world champions, in their prime and at their best form stepping into the ring together at just the right time. Be sure to set your alarms for this one!


Fighter’s Form (last 5 fights):

Stephen Fulton

Daniel Roman - WIN by UD (120-108, 120-108, 119-109) - 04/06/2022

Brandon Figueroa - WIN by MD (116-112, 116-112, 114-114) - 27/11/2021

Angelo Leo - WIN by UD (119-109, 119-109, 118-110) - 23/01/2021

Arnold Khegai - WIN by UD (117-111, 117-111, 116-112) - 25/01/2020

Isaac Avelar - WIN by KO 6 - 24/08/2019


Naoya Inoue

Paul Butler - WIN by KO 11 - 13/12/2022

Nonito Donaire - WIN by TKO 2 - 07/06/2022

Aran Diapen - WIN by TKO 8 - 14/12/2021

Michael Dasmarinas - WIN by KO 3 - 19/06/2021

Jason Maloney - WIN by KO 7- 31/10/2020


Event Information:


Date: July 25th, 2023

Time: 9:30 am (GMT), 1:30am (PT), 4:30 am (ET)

Venue: Ariake Arena, Tokyo, Japan

Channel: ESPN/ESPN+



Elsewhere on the card

In the co-main event, WBO featherweight champion Robeisy Ramirez (12-1, 7 KO) will defend his title against Satoshi Shimizu (11-1, 10 KO) in a battle of once-beatens. The card will also feature Chihiro Iwashita (6-0-1, 3 KO) against Hiroyuki Takahara (9-5, 6 KO) in an eight-round super featherweight bout.


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