Tuesday, July 25, 2023

"The Monster" Inoue Becomes Four-Division World Champion By Knocking Out Fulton In 8

 The final week of July 2023 may be a week that will go on to be known as one that changed some of the norms or what are perceived as norms in the sport of Boxing. Perhaps the most significant among them, the best fighters fighting the best without worry of promoter interests or television/streaming network allegiances. While the final week of July 2023 will be headlined by undefeated Welterweight world champions Errol Spence and Terrence Crawford meeting to determine the Undisputed Welterweight championship of the world on July 29th, what could prove to be a landmark week in Boxing history began on Tuesday evening in Japan, Tuesday morning here in the United States as undefeated former three-division world champion Naoya Inoue moved up in weight to challenge undefeated WBO/WBC Jr. Featherweight world champion Stephen Fulton at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.

Despite being the naturally shorter fighter, who was moving up in weight, Inoue dictated how the fight was fought from the opening bell. To the surprise of many however, the noted "Knockout Artist" showed the immaculate ability to be a highly skilled, but also extremely disciplined boxer. What made it particularly surprising to see Inoue implement this strategy was that he did it against one of the best pure boxers in the entire sport in Fulton.

From the opening bell, Inoue established his jab, but did so at varying levels, mixing it to the body and head, while maintaining distance where the champion had difficulty in both getting his punches off and landing consistently. This along with outstanding footwork and timing made it extremely difficult for Fulton, who is normally an elusive boxer that uses lateral movement and consistent offense, to move unless Inoue allowed it. This was the pattern for several rounds as Inoue kept jabbing with consistency, but swarming with short and explosive three and four punch combinations before maintaining distance. 

The challenger put round after round in the bank with this strategy and was seemingly winning every round of the scheduled twelve round world championship bout. As it appeared Inoue was Boxing his way to what would be a convincing unanimous decision victory and perhaps a shutout on the scorecards, the challenger as he has done throughout his career, brought the fight to a sudden and devastating conclusion. In round eight, in the blink of an eye, Inoue connected with a flush overhand right followed by a left hook to the head that knocked Fulton down on his back on the canvas. A clearly hurt world champion, Fulton showed his mettle by getting up from the knockdown, but the seasoned finisher in Inoue, known to his fans as "The Monster" went in for the kill, mercilessly attacking Fulton with a barrage of punches that knocked the champion down into a neutral corner as the fight was being stopped at 1:11 of the eighth round. 

Although Naoya Inoue will forever be known in the eyes of most fans by the knockouts he has been able to compile throughout his career, this was a fight that introduced a new wrinkle to his fight game that arguably makes him even more dangerous. The ability to box tactically, remain disciplined for the entire fight, and just when it seemed as though he was content to get the decision win, he explodes suddenly and ends the fight. Inoue also established himself firmly in the sport’s mythical pound for pound debates.

Prior to this fight, this observer questioned whether or not Inoue, who began his career at 108lbs. would find out that moving up to the 122lb. Jr. Featherweight division would be the moment that he found that he reached the ceiling in terms of how far up he could go up the weight scale and be at his competitive best. Having moved up after conquering the 118lb. Bantamweight division to face the unbeaten Stephen Fulton in his first fight as a Jr. Featherweight and dominating arguably the top fighter in the division before ending the fight via another statement-making knockout, the question now becomes is there a fighter either at Jr. Featherweight or even the 126 lb. Featherweight division that can challenge Inoue in a way where we find out where the ceiling for him might be. Whatever might happen in the future, Naoya Inoue’s status as a future Hall of Famer is more than secure as well as his status as one of the greatest Japanese fighters of all-time. Having become only the twenty-second fighter in Boxing history to win four world championships in four different weight divisions, the Boxing world now waits to see what the next chapter in Inoue’s career might be.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

The Boxing Truth® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison 

No comments:

Post a Comment