Naoya inoue delivered another reminder of why he has been regarded for years as among the best pound-for-pound fighters.

The latest instance came in a fight week that features championships between four of the best fighters in the world spanning two continents. Inoue handled his business in stellar fashion, as he dethroned previously unbeaten WBC/WBO junior featherweight titlist Stephen Fulton via eighth round stoppage. Inoue floored Fulton moments before offering a final volley of punches to force the stoppage at 1:14 of round eight Tuesday from Ariake Arena in Tokyo.

Inoue made history in the same venue just seven months ago, when he stopped Paul Butler in the eleventh-round to fully unify the bantamweight divisions. All four titles were vacated one month later, as Inoue was determined to claim title status in a fourth weight division.

It came after a two-month delay from the originally scheduled May 7 date, when Inoue suffered a knuckle injury.

“Everything I was thinking about this year was to fight him and become a four-division champion,” Inoue said after the fight. “Unfortunately I hurt myself in training camp and had to wait.”

Yokohama’s Inoue entered Tuesday’s bout as the naturally smaller foe but Inoue immediately took away that edge. Fulton was tight from the outset and outboxed throughout their twelve-round affair, which marked the first career fight outside the U.S. for the fighting pride of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Inoue was steady with his jab and a bit overzealous with his power shots in an opening round that saw Fulton mostly play defense. I’m sorry to my team and his for that but I’m so happy to celebrate this victory right now.”

Inoue continued to force the action at close range. Even the best early moments provided by Fulton were trumped by his challenger, such a right hand that landed behind Inoue’s jab but was immediately met with a left hook in round three.

Fulton slowly picked up his punch output in rounds three and four. Inoue responded with combination punching, including a textbook one-two down the middle late in the fourth round as blood continued to trickle from Fulton’s nose.

A footwork adjustment saw Fulton land a right hand early in round five. Inoue responded with a right hand of his own to back up the visiting titlist. Fulton went back on the move as Inoue attempted to time him with his jab both upstairs and straight down the middle to the body,

Inoue briefly stunned Fulton with a chopping left hand late in round six, followed by a right hand.  Fulton attempted to turn the tide in round seven after being shut out through the first half. He landed a right hand over the top but it was immediately met with a response from Inoue who walked down Fulton to the ropes. Inoue landed a body shot but left himself open for a left hook by Fulton in the closing seconds of the round.

It was the last gasp for Fulton, who was shut down moments later.

A right hand by Inoue had Fulton on wobbly legs before a left hook sent him to the canvas inside the first minute of round eight. Fulton beat the count was already a broken down fighter by that point. Inoue finised him off with an ensuing flurry before he forced referee Hector Afu to stop the contest.

Inoue was 114-of-379 (30.1%) in total punches according to Compubox, which credited Fulton with landing just 47-of-223 (21.1%). Inoue landed 70-of-180 (38.9%) power punches, while Fulton was just 24-of-71 (33.8%) in that category.

Fulton suffered his first career defeat as he fell to 21-1 (8KOs). The setback ended his 30-month title reign dating back to his January 2021 WBO junior featherweight title win over then-unbeaten Angelo Leo. Fulton unified the WBO and WBC belts in his next fight, as he claimed a majority decision over an undefeated Brandon Figueroa in the 2021 Fight of the Year.

The defeat trailed a thirteen-month ring absence, largely due to Fulton’s desire to only face the best rather than settle for a random title defense. Fulton traveled abroad for what was by far his best payday to date but will return to the U.S. without his undefeated record or titles intact.

The latter now belong to Inoue (25-0, 22KOs) who continues to add to his incredible career already destined for the Hall of Fame. The pound-for-pound entrant became Japan’s first-ever boxer to claim unified title status in two weight divisions. It came just seven months after he etched his name in history as the first Asian to enjoy undisputed championship status.

Inoue has not only won titles in four weight divisions but has beaten the top ranked fighter at each of those weights. Adrian Hernandez was the number-one junior flyweight and the WBC titlist when Inoue annexed the belt via sixth round knockout in just his sixth pro fight. The April 2014 win marked the first of eighteen wins with at least one major title at stake at 108, 115, 118 and now the 122-pound division.

Tuesday’s win comes just four days ahead of the Errol Spence-Terence Crawford undisputed welterweight championship at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Crawford (39-0, 30KOs) will become the first male boxer to fully unify two weight divisions should he win on Saturday.

Inoue has the chance to at least match the feat by his next fight.

Joining ‘The Monster’ in the ring was the Philippines’ Marlon Tapales, who claimed the WBA and IBF titles in a twelve-round win over previously unbeaten Murodjon Akhmadaliev on April 8 in San Antonio. Both boxers are free of mandatory title defense obligations and are eager to face the other next.

“I want to fight Inoue because he is a great champion,” Tapales said in the ring, respectful of his newfound divisional rival.

Inoue was more direct with his intentions.

“Let’s do this, this year,” the newly crowned WBC and WBO titlist replied.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox