Naoya Inoue Doubts the Spirit of Most American Fighters
Two-time undisputed world champion Naoya “The Monster” Inoue (26-0, 23 KOs) is one of the elite fighters in the world. But does the reigning undisputed junior featherweight champion believe that fighters from the United States lack toughness?
2023 was a banner year for the 30-year-old as he was named Fighter of the Year by 3kingsboxing.com. His highlight performance of that year was an eight-round stoppage over Stephen “Cool Boy” Fulton in July.
During an exclusive interview with the news outlet Ring Magazine, Inoue looked back at the fight with Fulton. In the process, the Japanese superstar gave his assessment of American fighters.
(Translated from Japanese) “I think Fulton’s body language was pretty obvious during the fight. I didn’t have a hard time reading him […] I thought Fulton’s facial expressions showed it clearly. I could easily see what he was thinking. I don’t know if it’s because he’s American, but he doesn’t like getting punched in the face. Their boxing style is different from Japanese fighters who fight with Yamato Damashii (Japanese spirit). Well, I think there are some fighters in the U.S. who fight like that, but probably not many.”
CROSSING THE LINE?
Fighters from Japan take great pride in their willingness to endure. The Monster had to battle through his share of physical trauma during his battle against Nonito Donaire in November 2019.
Fighting through a fractured eye socket that required surgery, Inoue gritted his teeth and overcame the pain to secure a unanimous decision victory. It’s worth noting that Fulton is the only fighter Inoue has fought who was born and raised in the United States.
Here’s the bottom line. Toughness is an intangible that really can’t be measured. To paint any kind of narrative about a group of fighters based on nationality is a bit unfair. One could guess that the junior featherweight did not mean to do any intentional harm with his words. But in an attempt to express his truth, The Monster is causing a bit of an uproar in the boxing community.