Stephen Fulton vs Naoya Inoue is set to take place today in Tokyo, Japan and represents the sport of boxing at its very best.
The fight, which some fans believe is the greatest that can be made in the sport today, pits two of the elite fighters in the lower weight classes against one another.
America’s Fulton will be the defending world champion, with Inoue moving up to try and become a four-division king.
Inoue’s title campaign began in boxing’s second smallest weight class in just his sixth professional fight.
Back in early 2014, at just 20 years of age, he knocked out Adrian Hernandez to win the WBC light-flyweight (108lbs) world title.
Inoue made one defence of this belt before making his first move up in weight.
If he’d wanted to, the Japanese superstar could surely have won a world title in the flyweight (112lbs) division, but he instead took the opportunity to leap straight up to super-flyweight (115lbs).
Despite facing a bigger foe than he was accustomed to, Inoue stopped Omar Narvaez in just two rounds and won the WBO world title to become a two-weight king at age 21.
He sadly struggled to get the unification fights he craved in the division and, after seven successful defences, moved up again three years later.
In his first fight at bantamweight (118lbs), he proved once more that he would have no issue dealing with bigger opponents and knocked out Jamie McDonnell in the first round.
He then entered the World Boxing Super Series tournament in which he beat Emmanuel Rodriguez and Nonito Donaire to emerge as unified IBF and WBA world champion – a three-division king.
While the pandemic stunted his progress in 2020 and 2021, Inoue was determined to become undisputed and hold all four belts at bantamweight.
Last year, after Donaire won the WBC crown, Inoue rematched him and knocked him out in two rounds to take it.
Then, in his most recent fight, he stopped WBO champion Paul Butler in December to achieve his goal as undisputed king.
With his work at bantamweight done, Inoue vacated all four belts and announced his plans to move up to super-bantamweight (122lbs).
At present there are just two champions in the division.
The Philippines’ Marlon Tapales holds the WBA and IBF belts, while America’s Fulton owns the WBC and WBO.
Fulton announced himself on the scene in 2021 as he first won the WBO crown by outpointing Angelo Leo.
He then had his first breakout win by jumping straight into a unification fight with Brandon Figueroa and taking the Mexican’s WBC belt.
In his most recent fight, Fulton beat former WBA and IBF champion Daniel Roman in another impressive points victory.
The 28-year-old American is a magnificent boxer and will likely provide the toughest challenge of Inoue’s career to date.
The 29-year-old Japanese destroyer will still be favourite to emerge victorious, but Fulton could return home as a bona fide star if he retains his belts.
Despite all the aforementioned details, what’s perhaps most impressive about this fight is how it has come about.
It’s rare to see two elite pound-for-pound talents such as these meeting in their primes, let alone with a deal done so quickly and no messy public negotiations.
Fulton and Inoue have both made this fight happen and today they will deliver boxing at its very best.
Joshua vs Whyte on talkSPORT
A history of violence is here
Anthony Joshua vs Dillian Whyte is live on talkSPORT – the home of boxing – on 12 August