Naoya Inoue v Stephen Fulton Results: Inoue TKO8



Naoya Inoue v Stephen Fulton Results: Inoue TKO8
Photo of leaping victor Naoya Inoue by Naoki Fukuda

Naoya Inoue staked his claim as boxing's No.1-pound-for-pound fighter. The Japanese star won the WBC/WBO junior featherweight championship with a dominating performance, ending in an eighth-round TKO of Stephen Fulton on Tuesday in Tokyo.

Airing live in the U.S. on ESPN+ from Ariake Arena in Tokyo at breakfast time, Fulton was hesitant to engage at points during the bout. Inoue dominated from start to finish to become a four-division world champion.

Naoya Inoue connected with a destructive right cross that badly hurt Fulton at the top of the eighth round. As the reigning titleholder Fulton tried to recover, Inoue pressed forward and landed with a crushing left hand that sent Fulton to the canvas.

He beat the count, but Inoue dished out further punishment against the ropes, forcing referee Hector Afu to stop the fight at 1:14. Click here for live-action round by round coverage.

Naoya Inoue beats Stephen Fulton on July 25, 2023

The jab worked, the power shots landed clean as he ramped up, it all worked for Naoya Inoue on this night. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Inoue made history in the same venue just seven months ago, when he stopped Paul Butler in 11 rounds to become the undisputed champion at 118-pounds.

The 30-year-old entered Tuesday's main event as the naturally smaller opponent, but he lived up to his “Monster” moniker, outboxing the bigger man in Fulton from the onset behind his sizzling jab and thunderous power shots.

The NYFIGHTS team had a good handle, in retrospect, how this fight might play out…but not as much in the way it did. Inoue truly impressed even stubborn holdouts.


The scheduled 12-round bout began at a measured pace as both Fulton and Naoya Inoue looked to establish their jabs. Inoue had the most success, connecting with a pair of jabs to the stomach and to the head. The referee warned Inoue at the end of the first for hitting Fulton behind the head.

With 2:05 remaining in the second, Inoue connected with a three-punch combination that backed Fulton toward the ropes. With 48 seconds left on the ticker, Inoue landed with a pair of chopping rights.

Naoya Inoue beats Stephen Fulton on July 25, 2023

Fulton felt the power right away and reacted accordingly. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Inoue changed levels beautifully to start the third round with a double jab. With 1:05 remaining, Fulton connected with a counter left hook, but it didn't land very clean as the reigning champion was hesitant before throwing the punch.

Per Compubox, Inoue connected with 44% of his punches through three rounds, while Fulton landed with 14%.

Fulton let his hands go more in the fourth round. He connected with a right hand early in the frame. However, Inoue fired back with jabs, combinations, and a plethora of lefts and rights to take over the action.

Naoya Inoue nailed Fulton with a hard right hand with 55 seconds left in the fifth round. The Japanese star continued to press forward and connected with crisp body shots.

Inoue was in complete control in the sixth round as he bullied Fulton all over the ring. He landed with three and four-punch combinations with ease as blood continued to leak from Fulton's nose.

Naoya Inoue beats Stephen Fulton on July 25, 2023

Who can you see gives Inoue a test? He aced this exam, which most thought would be more of a challenge

Fulton connected with a fight-high 13 punches in round seven. He landed with his best shot of the night, a sharp right hand, but was immediately met with fire from Inoue who walked Fulton down to the ropes and connected with a body shot. However, Fulton snuck in a left hook in the closing moments of the round.

It was the final hurrah for Fulton, who got annihilated moments later.

Fulton suffered his first pro defeat as he fell to 21-1 (8 KOs). The resounding loss ended his 30-month title reign dating back to his one-sided win over then-unbeaten WBO junior featherweight titleholder Angelo Leo.

Fulton added the WBC belt to his arsenal in his next fight with a majority decision triumph against then-undefeated Brandon Figueroa. He defended the unified straps with an impressive performance against former titleholder Daniel Roman last June.

The 29-year-old then set his eyes on taking the biggest fights possible.

He was forced to wait 13 months for his shot against Naoya Inoue, partially due to the ongoing trend of inactivity among modern-day fighters, but also because Inoue suffered an injury that forced a postponement of their original date of May 7.

Naoya Inoue beats Stephen Fulton on July 25, 2023

Fulton will return home to the United States with his biggest payday, but his undefeated record and belts have gone by the wayside.

As for Naoya Inoue (25-0, 22 KOs), he continues to add to his Hall of Fame-bound career. With his latest win, Inoue became Japan's first boxer to unify in two weight divisions.