Naoya Inoue dominated and stopped Stephen Fulton Jr to win the WBC and WBO junior featherweight titles, becoming a four-division world champion.
Inoue (25-0, 22 KO) put Fulton away at 1:14 of the eighth round, ending what had been a pretty one-sided performance yet again from a man who has simply become true must-see TV no matter what time of day he’s fighting where you are in the world.
Fulton was down once, hard, prior to the stoppage, and tried to fight on, but Inoue’s a good finisher (this is an understatement), and he finished things off shortly after.
The 30-year-old Inoue pretty well controlled the fight from the opening round, while Fulton (21-1, 8 KO) just could not get any offense going at all, a massive credit to Inoue’s still sometimes-underrated pure boxing skill, along with the heavy hands and speed that made the 29-year-old Philadelphia native tentative to engage much.
Fulton was, simply, both out-boxed and overpowered here, which has been the general case for Inoue in his career, as he’s risen from 108 lbs now to 122, dominating at every division he’s graced. Fulton came into this fight the top dog in the game at this weight, and Inoue just ran him over, really.
In short, what we’re seeing here is a genuinely special fighter, and if you still need to be told “the hype is real” after all these years, maybe let this be the last time. The hype has been real for a long time.
Fulton vs Inoue highlights
Undercard highlights and results
- Robeisy Ramirez TKO-5 Satoshi Shimizu (1:08): It wasn’t competitive, but the 37-year-old Shimizu gave this everything he had, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the final fight from the 2012 bronze medalist. He was just totally outgunned by Ramirez (13-1, 8 KO), who was finding it pretty easy to land right from the start. Shimizu (11-2, 10 KO) was down in the fifth, spit some blood, and tried to continue, but the referee smartly and mercifully stepped in as Robeisy went to unload again.
The fight was all Ramirez, and he really has a claim to being the best featherweight in the world. It’s time to stop talking about his pro debut loss as a main part of his story. It happened four years ago, and he’s turned out to be who we thought he was coming into the pros.
- Kanamu Sakama TKO-8 Ryu Horikawa (2:40): Sakama, a 20-year-old junior flyweight, stays undefeated so far at 8-0 (7 KO), but this stoppage came with just 20 seconds left in the fight. That’s some credit to Horikawa (3-2-2, 1 KO), who is better than his record, and also probably owed to young Sakama really need to get some useful rounds in, too, he’s not gonna get up the levels and bowl everyone over in a few rounds, so you need fights like this. And when he wanted to close the show, he made it happen, pouring on some heat in the seventh and finishing in the eighth. A young fighter to keep in mind at 108.
- Yoshiki Takei KO-3 Ronnie Baldonado (1:08): Pretty simple win for the 27-year-old bantamweight Takei, who goes to 7-0 (7 KO) with the body shot stoppage. Baldonado falls to 16-5-1 (9 KO).