Naoya Inoue beats Stephen Fulton to win unified junior featherweight championship – live | Boxing

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Extraordinary scenes. Less than one year after Inoue made history by stopping Britain’s Paul Butler to unify all four world titles at bantamweight, the Japanese star has become a champion in a fourth different weight class. He’s improved to 20-0 with 18 knockouts in world championship fights. He’s the best fighter in the world regardless of weight, regardless of what happens on Saturday between Errol Spence and Terence Crawford.

Naoya Inoue, left, throws a punch against Stephen Fulton during their world title fight.
Naoya Inoue, left, throws a punch against Stephen Fulton during their world title fight. Photograph: Hiro Komae/AP

Fulton down in round eight! Inoue wins by eighth-round KO!

Round 8

The champion finally goes down under gorgeous jab to the body followed by a straight right hand upstairs early in the eighth. Fulton beats the count, but Inoue goes in for the finish and the referee correctly waves it off. It’s official: Inoue is a four-division world champion. A special fighter.

Round 7

Naoya Inoue is in total control after seven rounds, winning the fight with his commanding jab. Even when Fulton enjoys a rare pocket of success, Inoue responds immediately and with prejudice.

Guardian’s unofficial score: Fulton 9-10 Inoue (Fulton 63-70 Inoue)

Round 6

More dominance from Inoue. It’s all flowing from the jab, which has been locked in from the first minute of the first round. He’s committed to the body attack and starting to break down Fulton, who is covering up and in retreat. Inoue is countering the jab, beating Fulton to the punch, landing big right hands and evading return fire with masterful defense. It’s an absolute clinic from the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter today.

Guardian’s unofficial score: Fulton 9-10 Inoue (Fulton 54-60 Inoue)

Round 5

What might have been Fulton’s best round of the fight was still an easy frame to score for Inoue, who is really humming and putting on a masterclass at the Ariake Arena. The Japanese star is making it look easy against one of the slickest boxers in the game.

Guardian’s unofficial score: Fulton 9-10 Inoue (Fulton 45-50 Inoue)

Naoya Inoue, left, throws a punch against Stephen Fulton during the fourth round of Tuesday’s fight.
Naoya Inoue, left, throws a punch against Stephen Fulton during the fourth round of Tuesday’s fight. Photograph: Hiro Komae/AP

Round 4

Inoue continues to hammer Fulton with the jab, splitting the champion’s guard and making him look tentative. It’s looking more and more like a mismatch. Fulton lands his best combination of the fight but Inoue walks right through it. Inoue’s deft footwork is leaving Fulton constantly out of position, squarely in his opponent’s range.

Guardian’s unofficial score: Fulton 9-10 Inoue (Fulton 36-40 Inoue)

Round 3

Fulton comes forward from the opening bell in a concerted effort to alter the geography of the fight but the outcome is no different. Another straightforward round for Inoue, whose jab to the body has been the weapon of choice. A trickle of blood is flowing from the nose of Fulton, who is struggling to keep up with the challenger’s hand speed and twitchy in-and-out movement. Just a marvel of power and precision.

Guardian’s unofficial score: Fulton 9-10 Inoue (Fulton 27-30 Inoue)

Round 2

Inoue cracks Fulton with a four-punch combination. Fulton remaining patient and composed but Inoue is on the attack, winning the exchanges with his blinding hand speed. Fulton hasn’t been able to get off against the quick, sharper man in front of him. Fulton in full retreat now, getting outboxed badly. An easy round for the Monster. Inoue has outlanded Fulton by a 26-6 margin over two rounds according to Compubox’s punch statistics.

Guardian’s unofficial score: Fulton 9-10 Inoue (Fulton 18-20 Inoue)

Round 1

There’s the bell. Fulton is fighting from the outside, taking measure of the task before him and looking to find range with his three-and-a-half-inch reach advantage. Inoue is throwing punches, looking to close that distance. The bull-v-matador matchup that we’ve expected is starting to take shape, but the bull has taken the early edge. Inoue is scoring with a quick, accurate jab. Neither fighter did a whole lot of damage in a feeling-out opening round, but Inoue outboxed the Philadelphian with relative ease and established the jab.

Guardian’s unofficial score: Fulton 9-10 Inoue (Fulton 9-10 Inoue)

Ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr is making the fighter introductions. Fulton is defending his WBC and WBO super bantamweight titles, having won all three of his previous title defenses. Inoue, the former undisputed bantamweight champion, has also won titles at light flyweight and bantamweight, having amassed a formidable 19-0 record in world title fights (with 17 knockouts).

Stephen Fulton is defending his unified junior featherweight championship on Tuesday at Tokyo’s Ariake Arena.
Stephen Fulton is defending his unified junior featherweight championship on Tuesday at Tokyo’s Ariake Arena. Photograph: Hiro Komae/AP

Hello and welcome to today’s junior featherweight megafight between Stephen Fulton and Naoya Inoue. We’re kicking off a blockbuster week of boxing from Tokyo’s Ariake Arena, where Japan’s pound-for-pound great is moving up in an attempt to win a world title in a fourth different weight class.

It’s as significant a fight as we’ve seen between small men in some time and it’s all getting under way shortly as the fighters have made their way to the ring and the national anthems are being played. Not much longer now.

Inoue, right, is moving up in an attempt to win a world title in a fourth different weight class against Fulton.
Inoue, right, is moving up in an attempt to win a world title in a fourth different weight class against Fulton. Photograph: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

Bryan will be here shortly.