Despite world titles, Stephen Fulton hasn’t been able to shush skeptics

by spicyray
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t seems like unified super bantamweight world champion Stephen Fulton is back at it again, and nope, not just defending his titles, but also safeguarding his status as a boxer by reciting the same mantra that fans and media refuse to acknowledge that he belongs in the pound-for-pound rankings.

 It only takes a few seconds to know his perception isn’t hype.  However, many fans and some boxing writers are not buying into his campaign. In his last fight, Fulton grinded out a difficult victory when he defeated then-undefeated Brandon Figueroa (22-1-1, 17 KO) with scorecards that read 116-112 x2 for Fulton and 114-114 draw.  In the process, Fulton, 28, took Figueroa’s WBC belt, although most thought Figueroa did enough to win, given that he landed 314 out of 1,060 punches compared to Fulton’s 269 out of 726 punches.

Well, that was then, what matters now is tomorrow night when Fulton takes on Danny Roman (29-3-1-10 Kos) at the Amory in Minneapolis, Mn live on Showtime Championship Boxing.  Roman hasn’t fought in over a year, which raises questions about how and why he is worthy of a title shot.  Roman (29-3-1, 10 KOs) has a solid answer. 

FULTON USED ACCURATE PUNCHING TO BEAT FIGUEROA AND UNIFY JUNIOR FEATHERWEIGHT TITLES. PHOTO BY ESTHER LIN/SHOWTIME

“This is the biggest opportunity of my life, and we’re here to take advantage of it. I’ve had obstacles too. When I lost my titles to MJ, [Murodjon Akhmadaliev] there were politics involved,” Roman said during the press conference.  “But that’s boxing, and now I’m focused on who’s in front of me now, and that’s Stephen Fulton. I’m not overlooking my opponent.”

Typically, Fulton is reserved, but this time the press and Roman sparked a fire judging by Fulton’s tone. “It feels good to be in the position and be the hunted. It feels good to be in this position because I’ve called him [Roman] out when he had his titles and they didn’t look my direction,” said Fulton. “But then when they didn’t have the titles, they looked my direction because I had it. Now I’m giving him the opportunity that he didn’t give me. 

Fulton added, “You’ve all seen I can fight on the inside, I can fight on the outside. I can fight whichever way I want. So how I wake up Saturday morning is going to determine how I fight Saturday night. I can do whatever I want. I don’t have one style to me. He’s lost three times, and maybe one draw. There’s four ways to get to him. There’s no way to get to me yet. There’s no one who’s figured that out.”

PHOTO BY ED MULHOLLAND/ MATCHROOM BOXING USA

Fulton seemed somewhat annoyed by Roman’s actions leading up to the fight.  “Roman was doing a lot of tweeting at me, saying that I was ducking, and I just didn’t say anything back and made the fight happen,” Fulton said. “I just want them to keep that same energy…” said Fulton. 

Fulton, who goes by the ring ails, “Cool Boy Steph,” isn’t a big puncher with a record of (20-0, 8 KOs), nonetheless; what he lacks in forcefulness he makes up in mental willpower.   Fulton, the father of two, often shares experiences growing up seeing crack vials on his way to school.  And by the time he was age 15, five of his good friends had been killed.  

Wahid Rahim, who has been with Fulton since his amateur days, told Caryn A. Tate of PBC, “Stephen’s mindset is different. He’s so mentally strong. He’ll mentally break a person down. Nobody can teach you to have that. You can be taught skills, but I’ve seen a lot of fighters with great skills be mentally broken in the ring. You can’t be taught it, but you can enhance it.”

If that wasn’t troubling enough, Fulton’s father Fulton Sr. was absent for the major of Jr.’s life. Sr. spent several years in the penitentiary for a bank robbery, but now father and son have reconnected.

For Saturday’s fight, Fulton, a devoted Muslim, said aspects of his religious practice will play a crucial role.  “Everything has been great,” Fulton said. “Camp has been amazing and challenging for me training through Ramadan. Training with little energy during Ramadan actually helped me as far as making weight. Right now, I’m just looking forward to June 4.” 

He added, “I’ve fought during Ramadan four years in a row and got knockouts. I already know how to prepare for a fight this way. My mental is just different when I’m fasting and on my spiritual journey. Those are the things that push me to the next level mentally. The fight game is more mental than physical anyway.”

Although Fulton has shown supreme confidence, he knows Roman isn’t a slouch. 

“He’s a great fighter and you can’t take that away from him. I don’t understand how he didn’t get his rematch for his original belts, but I decided to give him the shot at mine,” Fulton said. “I expect Roman to be different against me than in any other fight. He’s looking to get back on top. I have to be smart and able to adapt. That’s what I do best.”

But without a skip, Fulton comes full circle by setting the record straight.  “I don’t care what anyone on the outside thinks. I know what I am. I’m the unified champ. I only have to prove it to myself. Fans are going to see a victory. I guarantee a victory.”

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