WBO Positions Naoya Inoue To Be Fulton’s Mandatory At 122

Is Inoue-Fulton All But Guaranteed in 2023?

Naoya Inoue could become mandatory for Stephen Fulton
Naoya Inoue (L, Kyodo), Stephen Fulton

Naoya Inoue Elevated to WBO Super Champion; Could Challenge Fulton Next

It seems the road is being cleared for a showdown between reigning champion Stephen “Cool Boy Steph” Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) and undisputed bantamweight champion Naoya “Monster” Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs).

The WBO has announced they have made Inoue their bantamweight super champion. Here’s the significance of that decision: when Inoue officially moves up and begins fighting at super bantamweight, he can petition the sanctioning body to become their mandatory contender at 122.

Inoue is fresh off an eleventh-round stoppage over then-WBO champion Paul Butler to become undisputed at 118. At the end of 2021, Monster stated that 2022 would be his last year in that division.


Fulton has been out of action since an impressive unanimous decision win over ex-unified junior featherweight champion Daniel Roman in June 2022. When asked about a fight with Inoue, Fulton said he has no problem facing him. However, he wants the fight to happen sooner rather than later because he has eyes on eventually moving up to featherweight. Inoue has expressed his interest in fighting Fulton and said it would be an excellent test.

Following Inoue’s victory over Butler, you saw many posts on social media and message boards calling for Fulton-Inoue in 2023. On paper, it’s pretty much an even matchup. It would be one of the better fights of the New Year.

By: Michael Wilson Jr.

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About Mike W.1990 Articles
Mike is the host of boxing podcast "Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report" and is a Senior Writer for 3kingsboxing.com.