Tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn—maybe even before then—Naoya Inoue will be taking on Stephen Fulton for the unified super bantamweight titles, but Team Fulton had a very serious issue they wanted addressed first. According to Fulton’s trainer, Inoue’s hand-wrapping process didn’t look legitimate.
Naoya Inoue is publicly accused
Wahid Rahim aka Stephen Fulton’s trainer claimed that Inoue used layers of tape in his wraps, forming what he deems a cast. He went on to draw a line in the sand, saying that if Naoya’s hands aren’t wrapped properly, he wasn’t going to let the fight go forward. He even stated that they “haven’t even asked for a rematch clause” and only wanted this single demand met.
The look on Fulton’s face was absolutely priceless and has since become a meme. If rumors of purses are to be taken at face value, Stephen’s purse could be in the neighborhood of $5M. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table over handwraps, especially when Rahim noted that their side could wrap that way too, but “where is the level of safety for the fighters?”
It wouldn’t take long for Naoya Inoue to fire back. He tweeted the following:
“Japan has its own local rules. Evcen in the US, there are local rules on each state, and the winding methods are different. Our fight will be held in Japan on 25th, so of course I will follow the Japanese rules. Don’t suck it up. Just Fight!”
It’s as easy as ABC
If we are to go by the ABC’s website, their section on hand wraps states the following:
“Hand wraps shall be restricted to no more than twenty (20) yards of soft gauze, not more than two (2) inches wide. The gauze shall be held in place by no more than eight (8) feet of adhesive tape, no more than one and one-half (1 ½) inches wide. The adhesive tape shall not cover any part of the knuckles when the hand is clenched to make a fist. The use of water, or any other liquid or material, on the tape is strictly prohibited. Hand wraps shall be applied in the dressing room in the presence of a Commission representative and, if requested, one representative of the other boxer.”
That last bit being the most important part. This could be gamesmanship or it could be a legitimate concern, but it’s highly doubtful Team Fulton will be pulling out of the match for any reason, much less a hand wrap issue that’s never presented a problem with any of Inoue’s previous opponents. Rahim would even share Stephen’s comments on the matter, and he doesn’t seem fazed in the slightest.
“I talked to Fulton about my concerns and he asked me not to discuss my concerns. Fulton said, ‘I don’t care if he has bricks in his gloves. I will still win.’”
Some footage & the official particulars
Here’s a couple clips of Inoue and Fulton doing what they do best:
Naoya Inoue vs. Stephen Fulton takes place Tuesday morning at 430am ET, live from the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan. The main event ring walks will be around 8am ET. The fight will be streaming on ESPN+ for the bargain price of $9.99 (monthly subscription price for ESPN+).
Call to action
You know you can count on us for quick, consistent quality UFC coverage. Bloody Elbow is an independent, reader supported publication. Please subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with our best work and learn how you can support the site. Please subscribe to our podcast Substack, as well. We’re constantly refining to try and provide our readers and listeners with the best, most current MMA news and opinions.
Join the new Bloody Elbow
Our Substack is where we feature the work of writers like Zach Arnold, John Nash and Karim Zidan. We’re fighting for the sport, the fighters and the fans. Please help us by subscribing today.
About the author