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Stephen Fulton and Naoya Inoue set to clash in Japan on May 7

Naoya 'The Monster' Inoue. Photo credit: Naoki Fukuda

Undefeated American Stephen ‘Cool Boy’ Fulton 21-0 (8) will travel to Japan to defend his WBC and WBO super bantamweight titles against former three-weight world champion Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue 24-0 (21) at the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama on May 7.

Japan’s Inoue, 29, will be having his first fight at 122-pounds after moving up from bantamweight where he unified the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF titles in a brilliant three-and-a-half year run that saw him become widely regarded as one of the top three boxers pound-for-pound in the world.

He claimed his first world title in just his sixth pro fight when he lifted the WBC junior flyweight title from Adrian Hernandez in 2014. After one successful title defence he jumped up two weight class to lift the WBO super flyweight title from long-time champ Omar Narvaez later in the same year. His reign of terror at 115-pounds continued for three years and seven defences before moving up to 118-pounds.

Now Inoue is moving north once again for bigger challenges.

“I’m happy to have this event eventually announced publicly,” Inoue said at the press conference to officially announce the bout, per Fightnews. “It is a challenge to myself that I’ll invade into the super bantam category and make myself in a tip-top condition.

“It truly motivates me that I’ll welcome the big fight at my first fight after moving up to the 122-pound class.

“He is a taller boxer with a more advantageous reach. It might be hard to finish him, but I’d like to concentrate to be victorious.

“I believe I am more powerful and faster than Fulton. I don’t know at this moment what game plan I will take against Fulton.

“I previously showed a good performance in the first bout after moving up to the new division. Moving up to 122 might – it’s motivation – will produce a great power in me. I’ll look forward to myself. My motivation is highest ever in my career.”

The 28-year-old Fulton won the WBO title from Angelo Leo in January 2021 and added Brandon Figueroa’s WBC strap 10 months later. He has made one defence of the two belts against former unified champion Daniel Roman in June last year.

“I like to challenge myself, I like the excitement, so why not take that type of opponent?” said Fulton.

“I feel like I have the style to beat anyone – I can adjust and do whatever to beat anybody.”

Bob Arum, who promotes Inoue in the United States, doesn’t expect the Japanese superstar to lose to Fulton – or anyone else for that matter.

“I don’t think anybody beats Inoue,” said Arum to iD Boxing. “The monster is the monster and he’s the monster for a reason.”

The bout will be broadcast on new streaming service Lemino in Japan and ESPN+ in the United States.