aoya Inoue produced a devastating stoppage of Stephen Fulton to become a four-weight world champion in Tokyo and further underline his status as a true boxing superstar.
‘The Monster’, a pound-for-pound great and one of the sport’s most fearsome and skilled knockout artists, became a unified champion in his very first fight since relinquishing historic undisputed status at bantamweight to move up a level to 122lbs, dethroning the previously undefeated American Fulton on home soil and snatching his WBC and WBO world titles.
Inoue, still unbeaten himself and now 25-0 with 22 knockouts, will now have his sights firmly set on becoming the undisputed king of another weight class by the end of 2023, with Marlon Tapales brought into the ring after Tuesday’s trademark triumph to talk up a major showdown between the pair later this year.
Filipino Tapales currently holds both the WBA and IBF titles at super-bantamweight after controversially outpointing Uzbekistani champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev in San Antonio back in April.
Inoue dominated Fulton, whose first loss drops him to 22-1, in what was billed as a potential Fight of the Year contender and toughest professional test for both men to date, establishing his piercing jab from the outset and repeatedly throwing it with real accuracy to both body and head throughout, setting up his eye-catching combinations and utilising all of his blistering speed, power and anticipation.
Although there were a few bright moments for Fulton, who had brief success with a couple of strong right hands and was effective with his own jab at times, the busier Inoue went through the gears well and landed far more punches, maintaining his pressure and showcasing his impressive variety.
The end came in the eighth round, when a typically hard jab to the body from Inoue teed up a massive overhand right that landed flush and sent a stunned Fulton stumbling down to the canvas.
Though he got up and beat the referee’s count, Fulton still had two minutes left of the round to negotiate and was quickly maneuvered helplessly into the corner, with Inoue sensing blood and driving in some sickening hooks with both hands including one final left to the chin that left Fulton slumped against the ring post.
In Tuesday’s co-main event, Cuba’s two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez successfully defended his WBO featherweight title for the first time with an utterly dominant fifth-round stoppage of the overmatched Satoshi Shimizu.
The four-fight main card at Ariake Arena opened with a third-round knockout of Ronnie Baldonado by the unbeaten former kickboxer Yoshiki Takei, while Kanamu Sakama stopped Ryu Horikawa in the final throes of an entertaining eight-round tussle to also stay unbeaten and become the Japan youth champion at light-flyweight.