Naoya Inoue dares for further greatness at Ariake Arena in Japan this Tuesday, as he moves up to super bantamweight to challenge WBC and WBO world champion, Stephen Fulton Jr in what should be a blockbuster.
Fulton vs Inoue will be aired on ESPN+ in the USA, while Sky Sports will show the fight in the UK, with ring walks at approximately 9.30am BST.
Japanese buzz saw Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) has been world champion since all the way back in 2014, and he first reigned at light flyweight, steadily rising up the ranks and collecting world titles with a series of devastating wins.
After serving as WBO super flyweight champion, the ‘Monster’ moved up to bantamweight, winning the WBA title in a round, and he then took part in the World Boxing Super Series in 2018 and he quickly made the final in a combined three rounds, with a first round win against Juan Carlos Payano, and a second round success against Emmanuel Rodriguez, which saw him secure the IBF strap.
The final was a classic, where the 30-year-old was tested to the limit by Nonito Donaire before claiming a decision, and after winning three fights on the spin against low-key opposition, he blasted out Donaire in two rounds in a rematch, taking the Filipino’s WBC title in the process.
He was last out in December 2022, becoming undisputed champion with a one-sided, eleventh round knockout of WBO boss, Paul Butler.
Inoue vacated all four titles shortly afterwards in order to take on Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs).
The 29-year-old represents a real danger to him and has established himself as a unified world champion in his own right.
‘Cool Boy Steph’ won a minor IBO title in 2019, but really came to the fore in January 2021 when he dominated Angelo Leo in a wide points win to take the WBO bantamweight title.
A majority nod ten months later against Brandon Figueroa clinched the WBC bauble, and the Philadelphian also impressed in his last outing, a landslide points win against Daniel Roman last June.
Prediction: Inoue is a special, generational talent, and he has his hands full with Fulton, but I favour in front of a home crowd to have just enough to fend off the American on the scorecards and become a four-weight world champion.
Ramirez makes world title defence against Shimizu
More world title action heads the undercard, as precocious talent and WBO featherweight champion, Robeisy Ramirez defends his title for the first time against home hope Satoshi Shimizu.
Double Olympic champion Ramirez (12-1, 7 KOs), won the belt in April, as he dazzled in a comfortable points win against the tough Isaac Dogboe, and I don’t see him having trouble dealing with Shimizu (11-1, 10 KOs), who was stopped in six in his only career loss, and usually wins early.
Prediction: I favour Ramirez to score a stoppage win by halfway.
In eight rounders, super featherweight prospect, Chihiro Iwashita (6-0-1, 3 KOs) should stop Hiroyuki Takahara (9-5, 6 KOs), who was halted in his most recent contest, and Kanamu Sakama (7-0, 6 KOs) can take the vacant Japanese Youth light flyweight title by stopping Ryu Horikawa (3-1-2, 1 KO).
Hebi Marapu (18-1-1, 13 KOs) could come unstuck on the cards against rising prospect Taiga Imanaga (3-0, 3 KOs) at lightweight, and at super bantamweight, Yoshiki Takei (6-0, 6 KOs) can take an early win against Ronnie Baldonado (16-4-1, 9 KOs).
The sole six rounder comes at super flyweight, where Masato Shinoda (5-1-1, 4 KOs) can get the better of Yuki Kajitani (6-3, 5 KOs) on points.
In four rounders, Ryosuke Nakamura (2-0, 2 KOs) can win the battle of unbeatens against Kenta Yamakawa (2-0, 1 KO) on the cards at featherweight, and Takero Kitano (1-0) can also take a points win at minimumweight against Kenta Kawakami (2-1-1).