Stephen Fulton and Naoya Inoue may hail from two different parts of the world, but both unified champions have plenty in common.
For starters, Inoue and Fulton are just one win away from reigning supreme over their respective divisions as undisputed champions. Also, by and large, both fighters have been pegged as pound-for-pound stars.
With Inoue and Paul Butler, a 33-year-old British native who holds the lone world title at 118 pounds outside of Inoue, scheduled to square off in mid-December, there is an overwhelming belief that the Japanese star would then elect to move up in weight.
Waiting patiently for Inoue at the 122-pound doorway, is unified titlist, Stephen Fulton. Though the Philadelphia native has stated on numerous occasions that he has no issue with placing his undefeated record and championship status on the line against Inoue, he’ll first attempt to finish what he originally started.
Murodjon Akhmadaliev, the IBF and WBA super bantamweight champion, has long been on Fulton’s radar. If the decision were solely up to him, Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) would successfully snag Akhmadaliev’s world titles before moving on to a showdown against Inoue.
Bob Arum, Inoue’s current promoter, snickers when discussing a possible matchup between them. While he has nothing but the utmost respect for Fulton and would be willing to negotiate their proposed bout, the 90-year-old promoter believes that Fulton, and anyone else who faces Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs) for that matter, would be in for a world of hurt.
“I mean, I’d love to do that fight,” said Arum to YSM Sports Media. “But, it’s cruel and inhumane punishment to ask anybody to fight Inoue.”
Recently, Fulton and Inoue continued with their presumed collision course, following a pair of dominant victories. In the case of Fulton, he made it look relatively easy against former unified champion, Daniel Roman, cruising to a unanimous decision victory on June 4th.
As for Inoue, the pernicious knockout puncher violently closed the door on his rivalry with Nonito Donaire. After eking out a close win over the future Hall of Famer in 2019, Inoue blasted his man in their rematch earlier this year, winning via second-round stoppage.
Although Fulton is currently devoid of a fight date, the Philadelphian expressed confidence recently that he’ll return to the ring before the end of the year.