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Naoya Inoue drawing motivation from role as the challenger against Stephen Fulton

Naoya Inoue has been a titleholder for so long it’s been a while since he wasn’t the one defending a belt.

Naoya Inoue contends for Stephen Fulton’s super bantamweight titles tomorrow.
Naoya Inoue contends for Stephen Fulton’s super bantamweight titles tomorrow.
Photo by RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images

With Naoya Inoue set to fight for a pair of super bantamweight titles against Stephen Fulton early tomorrow morning, he says he’s perhaps even more motivated to perform than usual, as he’ll now be in the challenger role instead of the reigning champion.

“I haven’t been a challenger in five years, and that has heightened my motivation as well. I think I will be able to perform better than before,” he said at the pre-fight press conference. “Coming up to junior-featherweight to be able to challenge Stephen Fulton for the title has given me great motivation,” Inoue said.

Inoue would credit Fulton as being an intelligent boxer after studying film on the Philadelphia native, and highlights Fulton’s composure as one of his best attributes. Fulton showed the ability to weather a consistent onslaught from Brandon Figueroa, and he’ll probably have to demonstrate at least the same amount of durability if he’s going to get through this outing.

And for Inoue, this is another opportunity to make another huge statement in another weight class. That’s something Inoue is consciously aware of, and why he says he’ll be bringing everything he has against Fulton when the two meet in Japan.

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