Home Boxing News Stephen Fulton and Naoya Inoue count down to blockbuster super bantamweight clash

Stephen Fulton and Naoya Inoue count down to blockbuster super bantamweight clash

Stephen Fulton and Naoya Inoue. Photo credit: Naoki Fukuda

WBC and WBO super bantamweight champion Stephen ‘Cool Boy’ Fulton 21-0 (8) and challenger Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue 24-0 (21) have both made weight one day out from their blockbuster battle at Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday night.

The reigning champ and former three-division world champion held a steely-eyed staredown after Fulton scaled 121.9-pounds while Inoue weighed in at 121.7-pounds.

Both boxers have been respectful to each other in the lead up to the bout, but much of the talk over the weekend centred around what Fulton’s trainer Wahid Rahim claimed were illegal hand wraps used by Inoue in previous bouts.

Local boxing commission around the world have different regulations around the way hands can be wrapped. Japanese superstar Inoue, 30, who has boxed in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Glasgow, says he has always abided by local rules.

“Japan has its own local rules,” Inoue said on social media. “Even in the United States, there are local rules depending on the state, and the method is different.

“Our fight will be held in Japan on 25th, so of course I will follow the Japanese rules.”

American Fulton will be having his first pro bout abroad but has long been known as a road warrior. The 29-year-old has boxed across the United States – including in Las Vegas and Los Angeles – and has not fought in his hometown of Philadelphia in over eight years.

The bookmakers don’t fancy his chances against the devastating power of Inoue, but he has made a career out of proving the doubters wrong.

“When you’re the underdog, you’re like overlooked,” Fulton told Top Rank Boxing. “I’ve seen and heard a lot of things that people are saying about the power and he may not have a chin. Inoue is this and he’s that. I like that.”

Victory for Fulton will see him annex many of Inoue’s fans.

“They don’t believe in me,” he said. “Let’s make ’em believers.”

Inoue will enter the fight as challenger for the first time since he smashed Emmanuel Rodriguez to claim the IBF bantamweight title in two frames four years ago.

“That’s the point. Being a title challenger highly motivates me,” Inoue said. “I might perform better than in my previous bouts.”

Inoue could have been forgiven for taking an interim fight to help him acclimate to his fought weight division, but insists he always wanted to test himself against the best.

“This is my first fight [at 122-punds] and I am ready,” he said. “That is why I am highly motivated. I have high expectations for myself. I’m eager to show the type of performance I can deliver.”

As for Fulton, he says he feel no pressure to perform under the bright lights in what is the biggest fight of his nine-year pro career.

“I don’t feel different. I feel normal,” Fulton said. “I feel completely normal. It’s not my first time out of the country. I’ve competed outside the US in the amateurs and as a semi-pro. It’s just the first time as a professional.

“I’m not shy. I’m not nervous. I really feel normal. I like to embrace it. I like to embrace the people where I’m at so I don’t feel nervous.”