- What: WBC and WBO junior featherweight title fight
- Who: Stephen Fulton vs. Naoya Inoue
- Date: Tuesday, July 25. 2023
- Time: TBA
- Location: Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan
- How to Watch: ESPN+
Naoya Inoue looks to add another weight division title to his ever-expanding resume when he faces Stephen Fulton on July 25 in Tokyo, Japan. Fulton’s WBC and WBO junior featherweight titles will be on the line when the two undefeated boxing stars face off. Here is some background on the fighters before we discuss, in detail, the betting breakdown of the Stephen Fulton vs. Naoya Inoue fight.
Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) is rated No. 2 by The Ring in its pound-for-pound rankings. The 30-year-old has won world titles at 108, 115, and 118 pounds. He moves up to 122 pounds for the July matchup opposite Fulton. Inoue is coming off a December TKO win over Paul Butler. He successfully defended his WBA (Super), WBC, IBF, and The Ring bantamweight titles in that contest while adding the WBO bantamweight crown to his title collection.
Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) is rated No. 1 by The Ring at junior featherweight. He began collecting his titles in 2021 when he defeated Angelo Leo by decision. With decision wins over wins over Brandon Figueroa and Daniel Roman, the 28-year-old now holds the WBC and WBO junior featherweight titles.
Stephen Fulton vs. Naoya Inoue betting picks
Stephen Fulton betting breakdown
Fulton has an excellent jab. Because he is so quick with his lead hand, Fulton can easily mix up his targets well and alter his shot selection. Once he establishes the jab, Fulton opens up with his combos. Fulton does an admirable job of fighting around the high guard by jabbing and then transitioning to body punches. Fulton is a better inside boxer than Inoue and can deliver power combinations in close. As for his counters, Fulton has good timing, allowing him to catch his foe with hooks.
Defensively, Fulton tends to throw single punches at distance, which can leave his head hanging out there to be countered. He is also sometimes slow to get his head off the centerline, which, again, leaves him open to counters. Another exploitable tendency of Fulton’s is that he sometimes shells up in a high guard to take some time off during a round. That could allow Inoue to look like the busier fighter and score some points during those “breaks.” Fulton can also leave himself off balance when throwing heavy punches, which could hurt him against Inoue.
Naoya Inoue betting breakdown
One of the best all-around boxers in the world, and a mainstay on pound-for-pound lists, Inoue has admirable fundamentals. First, he fights incredibly well behind a fast jab to the head and body. Then, he uses that lead hand to set up his power punches, including his devastating feint to overhand punches and a nasty lead-hand hook. Another thing Inoue is very good at is forcing his opponent to open themselves to crushing liver shots.
Defensively, Inoue employs a high guard that is hard to penetrate but also allows him to quickly counter his opponent. He also does an excellent job of controlling distance. Plus, his head movement is impressive. In close, Inoue’s high guard can leave him open to body shots, which he’ll need to be aware of as he moves up in weight divisions. Another worry for Inoue is that his lead hook can open him to counters. Fulton could make him pay if Inoue is slow in recovering his guard. Inoue must also avoid backing up on a straight line as a technical fighter like Fulton will pick up on that tendency.
Best Bets for Stephen Fulton vs. Naoya Inoue
Fulton vs. Inoue is a betting toss-up because of how skilled Fulton is and because we don’t know how Inoue will perform at a heavier weight. Fulton presents value as the underdog, especially if he can get inside and stay inside on Inoue. However, that’s an arduous task against someone as skilled as Inoue. The best bet is to pick Inoue to score more points over the 12-round battle and win the fight via decision.
Best bet for Stephen Fulton vs. Naoya Inoue: Pick Naoya Inoue to win via decision.
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