Home Boxing News Big drama in Tokyo as Naoya Inoue is labelled a cheat, Stephen...

Big drama in Tokyo as Naoya Inoue is labelled a cheat, Stephen Fulton could withdraw from bout

Stephen Fulton with trainer Wahid Rahim (left). Photo credit: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

The highly anticipated showdown between WBC and WBO super bantamweight champion Stephen ‘Cool Boy’ Fulton 21-0 (8) and three-weight world champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue 24-0 (21) could be in jeopardy after the 29-year-old American’s coach accused the local hero of underhanded tactics in some of his previous bouts.

The pair are set to fight at Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday night.

In the months leading up to the bout both the Fulton and Inoue teams have been nothing but cordial too each other, speaking with underlying respect about the best facing the best. There has been no smack talk, no attempts to get under the other’s skin.

That all took a dramatic turn three days before the fight when Fulton’s trainer Wahid Rahim used the final press conference to accuse the Japanese superstar of illegally wrapping his hands.

The accusation came out of left field and left local reporters stunned.

“I talked to Fulton about my concerns and he asked me not to discuss my concerns,” Rahim explained. “Fulton said, ‘I don’t care if he has bricks in his gloves, I will still win’.

“As much I admire his courage, I have to do my job and look out for his safety. In previous fights, Inoue and his team have wrapped his hands with an excessive amount of tape on his skin and then put gauze and more tape, which creates a cast.

“This is not an assumption. I have proof. We could also wrap our hands in the same fashion, but where is the level of safety for the fighter? If this issue isn’t resolved, I will not allow my fighter into the ring.”

Rahim added that they have no rematch clause and simply want a level playing field for their fighter, but not at the risk of his health.

“We are already behind enemy lines,” he said. “We have made no requests, nothing at all. We have not even asked for a rematch clause. This is the only request that we had made.

“I would like for the hand wraps to be wrapped in a safe manner, not with tape on the hands or on the skin.”

Earlier this year Fulton said he had no problem facing Inoue on his own turf.

“I have no fear about going over to Japan and being screwed over. When you know how to fight – and I know how to fight – you don’t worry about the judges or any of that other stuff,” Fulton said to The Ring back in February.

Rahim, however, was suspicious even back then that everything may not be on the level.

“He said, ‘I’m going to have to go to Japan to fight Inoue’,” Rahim recalled to The Ring. “He told me he had to do it. I thought Stephen was fucking crazy.

“I immediately thought about Roy Jones being screwed over in the (1988) Olympics by the South Koreans.”