Naoya Inoue demonstrated exactly why he is regarded as the best boxer on the planet by moving up a division to dominate Stephen Fulton in Tokyo this evening. The American was undefeated heading into this fight and had his WBC and WBO super bantamweight belts on the line.

But it was clear from the very first round that Inoue had a huge advantage in terms of power, despite fighting at 4lbs higher than his previous weight. The Japanese fighter seized the centre of the ring and threw some huge shots to the head and body while easily evading his opponent’s tentative counters.

By the second round Inoue was already taunting Fulton. The American southpaw tried to slow him down by treading on his front foot and got a warning from the referee.

Body and head

The Japanese fighter was switching seamlessly between body shots and head shots and landed a hard right uppercut at the end of the third. Inoue followed a jab up with a hard right hand in the fourth as blood started to flow from Fulton’s nose.

Having made it all the way to the fifth Fulton decided it was time to start testing his opponent’s defence and landed his first meaningful punches of the fight. A couple of straight punches snapped Inoue’s head back but it probably wasn’t enough to win the American his first round.

Inoue decided to pick the pace up in the sixth and was landing at will. It wasn’t all one way traffic in the seventh though with Fulton giving nearly as good as he got.

Picked up the pace

But Inoue picked up the pace in the eighth snapping a couple of jabs to the body. He switched up and landed one downstairs which was followed up by a huge right hand that sent Fulton stumbling back.

A left hook put the champion down and he did well to beat the count. But Inoue was relentless and the referee had to step in to save Fulton from further punishment with the finish coming at the 1:14 mark.

With the win Inoue extends his perfect professional record to 25-0 and captures the WBO and WBC super bantamweight belts. Fulton drops to 21-1 after tasting defeat for the first time in his career.

Unification bout

Any doubts that Inoue would retain his punching power at a higher weight class were firmly dispelled by this performance. He has now won world titles in four different weight classes, putting him on a par with Filipino legend Nonito Donaire.

Marlon Tapales currently holds the WBA and IBF super bantamweight titles. Inoue will surely want to become the division’s unified champion and will have his sights set on the Filipino.