Naoya Inoue Q&A – Half Two: Stephen Fulton, future plans and challenges

Japanese star Naoya Inoue not too long ago sat down with Ring correspondent Daisuke Sugiura to debate his future plans. Photograph by Naoki Fukuda

Editor’s Word: This interview was carried out earlier than Oleksandr Usyk regained the No. 1 spot in The Ring’s pound-for-pound rankings.

Learn Half One among this KO Journal-style Q&A right here.

Naoya Inoue welcomed Ring correspondent Daisuke Sugiura to his health club for an unique interview. Photograph by Naoki Fukuda

Ring Scores Panelist and veteran sports activities author Daisuke Sugiura not too long ago returned to his homeland the place he sat down with Japan’s largest boxing star, Ring/WBC/WBA/IBF bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue, for an unique interview on the three-division titleholder’s health club.

Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs), presently No. 2 in The Ring’s pound-for-pound rankings, mentioned shifting as much as the junior featherweight division, a future ring conflict with WBO/WBC 122-pound titleholder Stephen Fulton, going through (and coaching with) African-American fighters, sparring tales about featherweight standout Leigh Wooden, his broadcast cope with Amazon Prime, and the way lengthy he needs to proceed boxing.

Of the opportunity of going through Fulton, The Ring’s No. 1-rated junior featherweight, Inoue acknowledged:

“If we combat one another, I feel it will likely be an important technical battle. It gained’t be a simple combat. Fulton has an extended attain, and I feel it’s about how (properly I shut the) distance.”


RingTV (RTV): When it comes to weight, you stated that junior featherweight might be the most effective match for you at this second. Is that what you’re feeling within the means of reducing weight?

Naoya Inoue (NI): I’ve been feeling it for some time now. At 122 kilos, I can transfer extra, and I feel I can exhibit my power extra. Nevertheless, that’s simply me with the ability to transfer higher (and be extra energetic). I don’t know the way a lot harm I can do to opponents who needs to be naturally greater. It will likely be an unknown world.

RTV: Up to now, you may have demonstrated an influence that gave the impression to be extra dominant as you moved as much as the 115- and 118-pound divisions. What do you assume was the explanation?

Inoue, who turned professional at 108 kilos, admits to have misplaced an excessive amount of weight in previous bouts. Photograph by Naoki Fukuda

NI: After all, I didn’t need to lose as a lot weight and that was enormous. It could be that Japanese boxers, myself included, usually lose an excessive amount of weight (preventing in unnaturally mild weight courses), in order we transfer up the burden class, our energy will increase. I additionally really feel that if I transfer as much as 122, my energy will nonetheless improve, and I can hit tougher. Featherweight might be my restrict, (at that weight) my physique will probably be heavy, so my pace will drop.

RTV: What’s your impression of the 2 122-pound champs – Murodjon Akhmadaliev and Stephen Fulton? Which one is prone to be your goal if you transfer up?

NI: I haven’t watched a lot of Akhmadaliev but, only some highlights right here and there. He has strong method and is a robust fighter. I can see that he had a formidable newbie profession supported by the Uzbekistan system.

RTV: How about Fulton?

NI: I watched the Fulton-Brandon Figueroa combat. Fulton is a technical fighter. He can maintain his distance very properly. I solely watched one in all his fights and I don’t assume the Figueroa combat was his finest, so I’d somewhat not say way more. If we combat one another, I feel it will likely be an important technical battle. It gained’t be a simple combat. Fulton has an extended attain, and I feel it’s about how (properly I shut) the gap.

RTV: You’ve got by no means confronted a black American fighter in your professional profession. Have you ever had any sparring with them?

NI: I haven’t sparred with any black fighters but both. That’s additionally an unknown space for me. The black athletes are typically bodily sturdy. I’d like to combat them and really feel their athleticism.

RTV: Was there any fighter you thought was actually good or sturdy?

NI: I don’t assume there’s anybody I used to be that impressed with all through a combat. The primary spherical in opposition to Emmanuel Rodriguez in Glasgow, I used to be like, “Wow (this man is sweet)”. From the primary spherical to the twelfth spherical, the one combat once I actually had a tough time was the primary one in opposition to Donaire, nevertheless it was extra about affected by the attention damage.

RTV: The identical query once more, however together with the fighters you confronted in sparring periods and newbie fights?

The hardest sparring associate Inoue might consider is Ring’s No. 6-rated featherweight Leigh Wooden. Photograph by Naoki Fukuda

NI: Nothing specific involves my thoughts, however Leigh Wooden, the present WBA featherweight titleholder whom I sparred with earlier than the Jamie McDonnell combat, had large punching energy. Wooden is a pure featherweight, and his weight was in all probability a lot larger than the featherweight restrict once I sparred with him. He was huge and possibly due to that, I actually felt his energy and power.

RTV: Are you trying ahead to shifting up in weight and competing in opposition to stronger and extra sturdy fighters? Do you’re feeling anxious on the similar time?

NI: I suppose I’ll really feel each. How do I keep my composure when the long run opponents endure my punching energy? Proper now, the opponent’s expression modifications each time I land a punch, however once I transfer up in weight, they may have the ability to face up to punches that will usually knock down bantamweights. How do I keep calm when issues don’t go my means? I feel it’s gonna be enjoyable, nevertheless it might be worrisome too.

RTV: Is it additionally a possibility to indicate one thing you haven’t proven earlier than?

NI: Sure, perhaps I’ll lastly have the ability to present the whole lot I’ve then.

RTV: Is the most effective punch you’ve ever thrown up to now the appropriate hand that knocked Juan Carlos Payano out chilly?

NI: Certainly. I couldn’t throw an ideal punch like that even in follow. It was an ideal punch, not “near good” or “nearly good.” They are saying that “persistence pays off.” In case you make efforts and proceed doing that, I feel there would possibly come a time if you even surpass your capacity. It was a punch that I used to be solely in a position to throw once I was actually sharpened and had a way that I don’t often have. I noticed a single mild within the ring, and simply adopted it.

RTV: After shifting as much as 122, the matchmaking might be troublesome due to promotional points. Are you going to claim your needs to some extent? Or will you allow it to the group?

NI: I’ll say who I’d wish to combat, what I’d love to do however I’ll depart it as much as my supervisor and promoter in the long run. I’m not going to intervene, the remainder is as much as them.

RTV: With Amazon Prime’s entry into the boxing enterprise, a variety of huge fights are prone to happen in Japan. What do you consider the event?

NI: Amazon Prime charges boxing extremely they usually recognize the game. I feel it’s an important transfer for boxing. If younger fighters get to the purpose the place they will placed on huge fights, they will set their sights on the sort of stage that awaits them in Japan as properly.

RTV: Once you signed the contract with Prime Rank, the expectations had been that your essential fights could be held in america. Which may not be the case anymore, however would you continue to wish to combat within the U.S. often too?

NI: After all, I nonetheless wish to combat in America too. It will be nice if I might combat alternately in Japan and the U.S.

RTV: It’s nonetheless early to say however do you assume your weight ceiling goes to be the featherweight?

NI: I feel so. I’ve no need to combat within the divisions I don’t belong in. I wish to be No. 1 within the weight class the place I can do my finest. Manny Pacquiqo is a uncommon exception. I gained’t transfer as much as the division, the place I’d have to beat an enormous deficiency in physique, the place my efficiency gained’t be as much as my customary.

RTV: It’s arduous to think about that you’ll chase an even bigger fighter strictly for large cash.

NI: It’s not concerning the cash, it’s about the most effective efficiency. I haven’t even educated for featherweight but, and I can’t consider something larger than that now.

RTV: What’s your final aim as a boxer?

NI: I began boxing on the age of 6, and I wish to discover a correct finish to my profession. It’s not about what number of weight courses I’d like to overcome or something like that. I don’t wish to combat in exhibition matches after retirement. I’d like to perform the whole lot I need whereas I’m energetic. My aim is to create my very own legacy however I can’t consider a selected aim for that proper now. I used to say that I’d retire at 35. Nevertheless, perhaps I might do it just a little longer if I really feel I can nonetheless do it.

RTV: You’ve got all the time stated you wish to retire at 35. Have there been any modifications in your life plan?

NI: I simply can’t say for sure that I’ll retire at 35. If I’m nonetheless getting higher as a fighter, I’d wish to maintain difficult myself. There are a variety of 35-year-old energetic boxers nowadays. It will likely be completely as much as my well being and efficiency.

RTV:What do you assume you’ll do after being knowledgeable boxer?

We are able to count on one other six years of The Monster within the ring. Past that, who is aware of? Photograph by Naoki Fukuda

NI: I don’t know if I wish to keep in boxing or wish to depart this enterprise totally. If I wish to keep, I could be keen on turning into a promoter. I wouldn’t say I’d wish to turn out to be a global promoter, however I feel it will be enjoyable to work as a promoter in Japan to extend the recognition of boxing. However, once more, provided that I needed to remain on this enterprise. As quickly as I retire, I’d assume boxing is over for me. I’d find yourself doing it to the purpose the place I don’t wish to get entangled anymore (laughs).


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