‘A cast’ – Naoya Inoue accused of illegal hand-wrapping by Team Fulton, Inoue responds

Naoya Inoue is accused by Team Fulton of forming a 'cast' with his hand wraps.

By: Stephie Haynes | 2 months ago

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.

Naoya Inoue of Japan trains during a public workout at Ohhashi Boxing Gym on July 15, 2023 in Yokohama. Kanagawa, Japan. Challenger Inoue will fight WBC and WBO champion Stephen Fulton of the US on July 25 in Tokyo, Japan. Noxthirdxpartyxsales PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxJPN (224351158)

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?”

The response

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+).

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About the author
Stephie Haynes
Stephie Haynes

Stephie Haynes has been covering MMA since 2005. She has also worked for MMA promotion Proelite and apparel brand TapouT. She hosted TapouT’s official radio show for four years before joining Bloody Elbow in 2012. She has interviewed everyone there is to interview in the fight game from from Dana White to Conor McGregor to Kimbo Slice, as well as mainstream TV, film and music stars including Norman Reedus, RZA and Anthony Bourdain. She has been producing the BE podcast network since 2017 and hosts four of its current shows.

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