Home Boxing News Stephen Fulton unfazed about facing Naoya Inoue away from home

Stephen Fulton unfazed about facing Naoya Inoue away from home

Stephen Fulton

Some people may call it a suicide mission, but WBC and WBO super bantamweight champion Stephen ‘Cool Boy’ Fulton 21-0 (8) insists travelling to Japan to defend his titles against former three-weight world champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue 24-0 (21) at Ariake Arena, Koto-Ku in Tokyo, Japan on July 25 is a smart move.

The 30-year-old Inoue is in his physical prime and is jumping straight in at the deep end in his 122-pound debut after unifying all four major world titles at bantamweight. His run at 118-pounds is the stuff of legend with nine wins for eight knockouts. He previously held the WBO super flyweight and WBC junior flyweight titles, going 9-0 (8) in world title fights across those two weight classes.

Most boxers would be reluctant to take on Inoue at all, much less in his home country. Philadelphia’s Fulton, 28, is not most boxers.

“I believe in my mindset. I believe in my abilities. I’m very smart. There’s nothing I can’t out-think,” Fulton told the The PBC Podcast.

“I didn’t take this fight to go out there for money. That’s what other guys wanna do. That’s not my mindset. My mindset is strictly going over there because I know I can win and I want to challenge myself while doing it. I want to put myself to the test.

“This is a huge fucking fight. So why not try to live up to that moment? I didn’t just do this for money, it just so happened I was offered some nice money so that’s the icing on the cake, so let’s go do it.”

Fulton recalled the first time he heard the name Inoue. It came after his WBO title winning effort against Angelo Leo in January 2021. At the time Inoue, who The Ring magazine currently ranks the second best boxer pound-for-pound in the world and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board has in the top spot, was fresh off defending his IBF and WBA titles against Jason Moloney and one fight removed from winning the World Boxing Super Series.

“I got out the ring someone [and] came to me, an interview or something and said something about Inoue and I said ‘who?’,” Fulton said.

“This was my first time ever hearing about him. I said I’m gonna fight him. I said I’m gonna go out to Japan. My coach said why would you go to Japan, I said it’s bigger out there. I wasn’t even talking about money. It’s bigger. It makes more sense out there, why wouldn’t it.

“I said literally I’ll defend my belts out there. He said why? And I was like coz no-one won’t do nothing like that. I’m different. I feel like that’s how my whole career has been.”

Fulton is expecting a tough test from Inoue but is playing his cards close to his chest when it comes to his game plan for the fight.

“I feel like it’s going to be a great fight, honestly,” Fulton said. “I don’t wanna give too much because then I may start talking about the things I wanna do in the ring that may affect the impact of the decision and things like that.

“I feel like it’s going to be a great fight. Overall, I feel like it’s going to be an intriguing fight, a technical fight, a very skillful fight and [an] intelligent fight from both sides.

“Once we’re both in there [and] we’re warm anything can happen and that’s my honest opinion. Once we’re going at it and trying to out-think each other. That shit gonna be beautiful.”