Former champion Timothy Bradley puts his analyst cap on to break down the big upcoming fight between Naoya Inoue and Stephen Fulton, who will collide early tomorrow morning (U.S. time) in Japan for Fulton’s WBC and WBO super bantamweight titles. After taking time to break down tape on both fighters, here’s what Bradley had to say about his thoughts on the fight.
“The more I look at it I see different areas where I feel that Inoue can be strong and I see some areas where Fulton can be strong,” said Bradley. “There was an area where I didn’t catch — it was on the inside — Fulton can fight on the inside, he can. It’s not his strong suit but the thing that I like about him is that he knows how to pin the hand down, he knows how to tie up, he knows how to not allow the other man to work. Tuck, slide in, tie up. And he’s big.
“Inoue’s coming up from 118, he’s never been in the ring with a guy as big as Fulton, or as strong. Fulton has been at this weight class his entire career and he’s been in there with some big guys and one in particular is Figueroa, and he was able to handle him and beat him in the trenches.
“See, this is the thing. No one has been able to rough up Inoue. No one has been able to not allow him to work and do what he wants to do. If Fulton tries to keep the fight on the outside and make Inoue lunge — because he will lunge, he does, he’ll lunge. He will lunge and he makes mistakes, keeps his chin up in the air. Inoue sometimes, when he doesn’t feel threatened, he’ll walk straight in, he’ll break rules. He will break rules and if Fulton confuses him, keeps him on the outside, uses his reach and turns him and be very strategic inside that ring and be tactically sound, he has a chance of winning the fight. There’s no doubt in my mind.
“And what it’s going to boil down to, or could boil down to, is can he take his punch? If Fulton can take his punch, that’s what it’s gonna boil down to. And if he can take his best punch, and box the way Fulton can box, he can win this fight, man. I see a lot of vulnerability in Inoue’s game.
“But then at the same time, what happens when you got a small guy like Inoue, moves up in weight, has the legs for it, no doubt about it. I feel that’s why he’s able to move up, just like a Manny Pacquiao so to speak. His power will transcend in this bigger weight class, and having that extra weight behind your shot and that snap and the way he’s able to produce his punching power — short range and from outside and how he varies his combinations — it’s dangerous. He’s sharp, like a knife.
“Whereas you have Fulton, he’s a little bit more on the looser end of things, real fluid with his offense but it’s not as sharp and quick and precise as an Inoue. So I wonder how that blend of styles is gonna match up.
“Where I see problems for Fulton, if he gets on the ropes — he has to stay off the damn ropes. You can’t allow this man to have a clear shot on you. Stay off the ropes because Inoue is a vicious body puncher, head and body, varies his attack, he knows how to set his opponent up. If you want to get defensive, he showed us in that last fight that he had, against Butler, ‘if you don’t want to open up I’ll make you open up’ and he found the key. Butler and Fulton are two different animals here, I get that, but I’m just saying he has that ability also.
“Intriguing fight, fight fans are getting the best fights this year, man. It’s fantastic. It’s been a great year of boxing.”