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Inoue promoted to Super WBO champion status, may face Fulton

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TOKYO, JAPAN - DECEMBER 13: Naoya Inoue of Japan applauds fans after his victory over Paul Butler of Great Britain in the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO Bantamweight Title Bout at Ariake Arena on December 13, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

Undisputed Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (24-0, 21 KO’s) has recently been promoted to super champion status by the WBO, making him eligible to extend the time needed to fight his mandatories, move up and down weight classes where he can instantly become the mandatory challenger, and – lastly – he is allowed to challenge for any WBO title he lost by being designated as the mandatory challenger.

The decision was officially approved on December 22nd, 2022, by the head of the WBO – Luis Batista Salas. Naoya Inoue’s new status now lands him the opportunity to fight any WBO world champion above or below his division. As Inoue has already conquered lower divisions (Super Flyweight and Junior Flyweight) and has already announced his plans to move up to 122 pounds, it is now even more likely that he will be facing WBO’s unbeaten world champion Stephen Fulton (21-0, 8 KO’s) in the near future.

Stephen Fulton first became a world champion in January of 2021 after beating then-WBO champion Angelo Leo (21-1, 9 KO’s) by UD in a masterclass of boxing. He later unified after beating rival Brandon Figueroa (23-1-1, 18 KO’s) by unanimous decision, becoming one of the most notable faces of the lower weight divisions as a result.

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 27: WBO champion Stephen Fulton Jr. enters the ring for a super bantamweight title unification fight against WBC champion Brandon Figueroa at the Dolby Live at Park MGM theater on November 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

Naoya Inoue himself has recorded a career even more impressive; he became a world champion in just his sixth fight when he stopped his opponent to become the WBC Junior Flyweight champion in 2014. He would proceed to unify in 2019 against Nonito Donaire (42-7, 28 KO’s), and again in 2022 when Donaire became champion again. After his most recent bout against Paul Butler (34-3, 15 KO’s), Inoue became undisputed,for the first time of his career, at Bantamweight .

The two champions may soon face each other in the ring in a fight that might catapult either of them to untold heights.