Naoya Inoue and Terence Crawford are each other’s biggest challenges, not inside the ring but outside of it.
The pair will battle for the P4P #1 spot, Fighter of the Year (2023) and Performance of the Year (2023).
But for NoSmokeSport, it is the Japanese Monster who takes the first two of those positions.
Inoue moved up to super bantamweight to face the division’s #1 fighter, Stephen Fulton, in July. It was certainly the biggest fight he had ever been in and for maybe the first time ever, people thought there was a chance that Inoue could lose.
But the 30-year-old made the contest completely one-sided, stabbing the power jab to Fulton’s stomach and to his head.
Inoue was too fast and too powerful for the American, who never really got into the contest and was halted in the eighth after losing every round.
Marlon Tapales gave Inoue a harder fight than expected just a few days ago taking 1/2 rounds but eventually, the power became too much for him and he wilted in the tenth in their four-belt unification.
The Japanese star unified the 122-pound division within five months of entering it and became only the second male two-weight undisputed champion.
Honourable Mentions For Men’s Fighter Of The Year
- Terence Crawford
- Devin Haney
- Bam Rodriguez
- Tim Tszyu
- David Benavidez
Fulton-Inoue Image: Naoki Fukuda, Inoue Image: Kyodo