Naoya Inoue vs. Stephen Fulton Odds, Pick & Prediction: Best Bets for Boxing Nerds’ Fight of the Year (Tuesday, July 25)

Naoya Inoue vs. Stephen Fulton Odds, Pick & Prediction: Best Bets for Boxing Nerds’ Fight of the Year (Tuesday, July 25) article feature image

KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Boxer Stephen Fulton of the US and challenger Naoya Inoue of Japan

Naoya Inoue vs. Stephen Fulton Odds

Inoue Odds
Fulton Odds
Total (Over/Under)
10.5 (-112 / -112)
Ariake Arena – Tokyo, Japan
4:30 a.m. ET for main card, approx. 7:30 a.m. ET for main event
Odds as of Tuesday and via FanDuel

The Fight of the Year is Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford later this week, but for many of my fellow boxing nerds, Stephen Fulton vs. Naoya Inoue on Tuesday morning (4:30 a.m. ET main card, ESPN+) rivals in terms of pure anticipation.

Spence vs. Crawford is the biggest fight in five years, the one that'll get all the rightful attention, and is expected to be an instant classic.

Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) vs. Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) is for the diehard nerds who've been studying Fulton in a corner on Showtime, usually not at a fight party, and reveling in his skill, wondering how he'll fair against the Japanese "Monster" in Inoue, the arguable pound-for-pound No. 1 boxer in the world who could kill most people walking the earth double his size.

Fulton arrives defending his WBO and WBC super bantamweight titles. Inoue, a three-weight world champion – recently the first undisputed bantamweight champion in 50 years and first of the four-belt era – is moving from 118 to 122 pounds to challenge for yet another accolade.

Despite being back in the challenger's chair, Inoue is the favorite and has the fight in his home in Japan, so the start time of the ESPN+ main event will be around 7:30 a.m. ET (4:30 a.m. PT) in the U.S. on Tuesday morning.


Fulton and Inoue are locked and loaded. 🔥

🎥 via @trboxing |

— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) July 24, 2023

As of fight day, Inoue was a -400 favorite, which implies a win probability of 80%. Fulton was the underdog at +280.

The total for Inoue vs. Fulton is set for 10.5 rounds.

It's an exciting fight to wager on, and I'm here to help. But first, let's size up the two world-class competitors.

Inoue vs. Fulton Fight Analysis

Inoue won his first world title in just his sixth pro fight, becoming world light flyweight titleholder in 2014, then winning a super flyweight title just two fights later. So, yes, he was a two-time world champion just eight fights in.

He later dominated at bantamweight, where he defeated his most notable competition over his five years of dominance, including Nonito Donaire twice, Emmanuel Rodriguez, Jason Moloney and, most recently, Paul Butler.

The Butler bout from December elevated Inoue to undisputed after recording an 11th-round knockout, and if Butler actually wanted to fight as opposed to being in survival mode (can't blame him!) the entire bout, the KO would've arrived sooner.

DON'T BLINK! Naoya Inoue can end a fight in a split second 💥⏱#FultonInoue | Tuesday, 9.30am

— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) July 24, 2023

Inoue, who debuted in the 108-pound division, will be outsized in his new division by Fulton, who, at 5-foot-7 with a 70.5-inch reach, has two and three inches in height and length over Inoue.

The slicker Fulton will return to the ring for the first time since June 2022, when he widely outpointed overmatched Daniel Roman in defense of his titles.

The Philadelphia native originally became WBO super bantamweight champion by dominating Angelo Leo in January 2021, then unifying with Brandon Figueroa's WBC Strap that November following a close majority decision victory.

Fulton hasn't faced anyone as good as Inoue, but the same could be said in the reverse. Fulton is 9-0 with 2 KOs against fellow undefeated fighters, which makes up close to half his resume.

Stephen Fulton hit those ribs 😮‍💨#FultonInoue | Tuesday, 9.30am

— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) July 24, 2023

Inoue has faced only one undefeated opponent ever, the aforementioned Rodriguez – who is in the conversation for best bantamweight in the world with Inoue gone from the weight class – whom he knocked out in two rounds.

Inoue vs. Fulton reminds me, to some extent, of Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley. Fulton had a similar height and reach profile and, as a natural welterweight, had advantages physically over Pacquiao, who had moved up several weight classes before reaching 147 pounds.

Inoue is an excellent and nearly flawless boxer, but his advantage will be to cut off the ring and pressure the highly skilled Fulton, who needs to limit engaging with the Japanese star and pick him apart from a comfortable distance.

Knowing that, it's time to place bets.

Inoue vs. Fulton Best Bets

Inoue has three wins by decision. One against Donaire in 2019, when Inoue suffered a broken orbital bone early in the fight and boxed his way to a unanimous decision (he stopped Donaire in the rematch in two rounds last June). The other two were before 2017.

That said, I think Fulton is too smart to fight on the inside. He'll have moments of successful counter-punching, but Inoue is too deadly of a body-puncher for Fulton not to use the ring the entire fight.

I originally wanted to pick Inoue by KO at +100 – because Inoue finishes everyone.

But it is true: Fulton is the best fighter Inoue has seen.

The Pick: While I do think that Inoue can absolutely stop Fulton, I believe this goes to the cards. Fulton has moments, Fulton shows off his skill and defense, but ultimately, you can't hide from The Monster.

I'm rolling with Inoue by decision, and him scoring one or two knockdowns along the way. I'll call it a unanimous decision in that 116-111 or so range. Inoue by decision is +240 on FanDuel, as of this writing.

Pick: Naoya Inoue via Decision (+240)

But, because this fight is too compelling to offer one bet and leave you alone, here are others to monitor and or consider:

Inoue by KO at (+100 at FanDuel): Inoue stops almost everyone. He has five straight knockouts and has stopped 13 of his last 14 opponents. It's never a bad bet, and you may never get Inoue at plus odds for a KO at his peak again.

Inoue by KO between Rounds 7-12 (+200 on FanDuel): If I do buy on Inoue by stoppage at all, it'll be late. Three of his last five KOs have been in this range, and none of the opposition was as technically sound as Fulton, respectfully.

Fulton to be knocked down (-112 on FanDuel): As stated earlier, I think Fulton goes down at some point. Everyone does against Inoue, and I'd be stunned if this didn't hit.

Fulton by decision at (+430 on FanDuel): Fulton is +1000 by KO, which is to tell you if he does win, it'll be by decision. It'll be angles, defense and counter-punching far likelier than overwhelming offense resulting in a stoppage barring unforeseen events, which the sport could occasionally supply.

Enjoy the fights, and don't go broke!

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