Stephen Fulton feels he will gain Naoya Inoue’s respect relatively early in their fight Tuesday night.

The WBC/WBO 122-pound champion has won only 38 percent of his professional bouts by knockout, yet Philadelphia’s Fulton thinks his power is underrated based on his low knockout ratio by those that haven’t been hit by him. Japan’s Inoue has knocked out 88 percent of pro opponents and is thus commonly considered the more dangerous puncher in their 12-round title fight, even though Inoue is the boxer who has moved up in weight.

None of those numbers will matter, according to Fulton, once the bell rings for a highly anticipated main event ESPN+ will stream from Ariake Arena in Tokyo at approximately 8 a.m. EDT (5 a.m. PDT) in the United States. The ambitious underdog is convinced Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) will alter his strategy once he realizes that Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) is a more impactful puncher than Inoue anticipates.

“Everyone underestimates my power, but I feel like my opponents don’t when they get in the ring with me,” Fulton told “They feel it when they get in the ring with me, and that’s all that matters. Once they feel it, the only person that fought the same way was Brandon Figueroa. Everybody else that I fought and I touched them, they didn’t fight the same way against me that they fought in they other fights.

“And it showed. They face was always beat up, chewed up, bruised up, and I always came out the same way I went in. So, I don’t really care what they say about the power. I feel like he will feel the power, I’ll feel what he got to give, and whatever happens, happens after that.”

Figueroa’s granite chin has helped him overcome defensive deficiencies and made him one of the most fan-friendly fighters in boxing. A relentless Figueroa (24-1-1, 18 KOs) never stopped coming forward when he faced Fulton, who dealt well with his opponent’s pressure and won their 12-round “Fight of the Year” candidate by majority decision in November 2021 at Park MGM’s Dolby Live in Las Vegas.

Each of Fulton’s past four fights have gone the 12-round distance, though. The 29-year-old champion hasn’t won by knockout since he stopped Mexico’s Isaac Avelar (then 15-0) in the sixth round of their August 2019 bout at Ogden Arena in Edinburg, Texas.

The 30-year-old Inoue has won five consecutive contests by knockout since Nonito Donaire took him the distance during their first fight in November 2019 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Inoue annihilated Donaire (42-7, 28 KOs) in their rematch, which he won by second-round knockout 13 months ago at Saitama Super Arena.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.