None of the officials that have been assigned to the Stephen Fulton-Naoya Inoue fight are from the United States or Japan.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Canada’s Richard Blouin, Italy’s Guido Cavalleri and Spain’s Manuel Palomo have been chosen as the judges for their 12-round, 122-pound championship bout Tuesday night at Ariake Arena in Tokyo. Panama’s Hector Afu has been selected as the referee who will officiate Fulton-Inoue.
Philadelphia’s Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) will fight outside of the United States for the first time when he defends his WBC and WBO championships against Japan’s Inoue, who is a superstar in his home country. Yokohama’s Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) has fought three times in the United States – twice in Las Vegas and once in Carson, California – and once in Glasgow, Scotland, but 20 of his 24 professional fights have taken place in Japan.
Cavalleri is the most experienced in championship matches among the three judges picked to score Fulton-Inoue. In his most recent noteworthy fight, Cavalleri scored Spanish southpaw Sandor Martin a 95-94 winner over Brooklyn-born Teofimo Lopez in a 10-round, 140-pound bout Lopez won by split decision December 10 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
In Palomo’s most recent high-profile fight, he scored Devin Haney a 118-110 winner against Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. in their 12-round rematch October 16 at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. Haney, of Henderson, Nevada, decisively beat Kambosos on all three scorecards in their second fight (119-109, 118-110, 118-110).
Quebec’s Blouin will work without a doubt the biggest fight of his eight-year career as a professional judge when he takes a ringside seat to score Fulton-Inoue.
Like Cavalleri, Afu also has a lot of experience in championship bouts on the international level. Most notably in recent years, Afu officiated the first bouts between Haney and Kambosos, which Haney easily won on the scorecards in June 2022 in Melbourne, and Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano, which resulted in a 12-round split draw in July 2021 in San Antonio.
ESPN+ will stream Fulton-Inoue on Tuesday morning in the United States (approximately 8 a.m. EDT; 5 a.m. PDT). Inoue is a little less than a 3-1 favorite to become a four-weight world champion, according to most sportsbooks.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.