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Fulton Edges Figueroa In Furious Firefight

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Fulton Edges Figueroa In Furious Firefight

WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Stephen “Cool Boy Steph” Fulton Jr. of Philadelphia (20-0, 8 KOs) walked through fire to edge WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion Brandon “Heartbreaker” Figueroa of Welasco, Texas (22-1-1, 17 KOs) in a majority decision win, adding his WBC title to his trophy case. Scores in the Premier Boxing Champions event from Dolby Live at Park MGM in Las Vegas read 116-112 on the cards of Dave Moretti and Tim Cheatham; David Sutherland scored it a draw.

The fans got more than their money's worth in a Salido vs. Vargas style guerra, an all-time classic. “The fans won tonight, more than anything,” said Fulton. “We put on a hell of a show.”

Fulton and Figueroa combined to throw 1,786 punches in 12 rounds, according to CompuBox. Figueroa outlanded Fulton with 314 of 1,060 total punches landed (30%) against 269 of 726 for Fulton (37%). Figueroa landed 288 power punches; Fulton 247. As expected, Figueroa landed 106 body shots and Fulton 85. The disparity fired up the fans and observers who felt Figueroa won.

Round 13, anyone?

Brandon Figueroa and Stephen Fulton continued their fight arguing over the scorecards. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime Boxing Fulton Edges Figueroa

Brandon Figueroa and Stephen Fulton continued their fight, arguing over the scorecards. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime Boxing

It continued to Round 13 after the decision. Fans in Las Vegas appeared split on the results, booing and cheering, with Fulton declaring his victory while Figueroa insisted he was the true winner. Showtime ring reporter Jim Gray did his best to play peacekeeper with limited success.

“Thanks to Brandon and his team, my team. This was a war, a tough fight with a tough person.”

Brandon Figueroa fought his typical all offensive fight. Photo: Showtime Boxing Fulton edges Figueroa

Brandon Figueroa fought his typical all offensive fight. Photo: Showtime Boxing

Figueroa edged his way into the interview to argue the point. “You really think you won that fight? Everybody here knows who won. I hurt you in that fight six times!” Fulton insisted he won and offered a rematch. “We can fight again. It was a close fight. Yeah, I won.” “I ain't scared of you!” said Figueroa. Look at your face!” said Fulton.

Fulton said he caught Figueroa amid everything he was throwing, “The thing is, I was landing a lot of clean shots. He was throwing wild shots, and the crowd was going wild over everything.”

“He came in two weight classes above me, and I still won,” insisted Figueroa. “I put the pressure the whole 12 rounds I landed the cleaner shots. I won eight rounds.

Figueroa called it the “biggest robbery of the year. Everybody here knows who won. Even he knows who won. They just want to make the fight with him and MJ (unified champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev). I brought the pressure the whole 12 rounds.”

Later, a disappointed Figueroa said he'd like the rematch, but he planned to move up to featherweight at 126 pounds. He said he'd be open to a rematch at the higher weight.

Fighting fuego with fuego

Stephen Fulton said he had to engage with Brandon Figueroa to be most effective.  Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime Boxing Fulton Edges Figueroa

Stephen Fulton said he had to engage with Brandon Figueroa to be most effective. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime Boxing

Figueroa, age 24, is a nonstop power puncher. His performance was as everyone expected. As he did in his last fight against Angelo Leo, the slick, skilled technician Fulton, age 27, threw his lot in and decided to do the same.

It was nearly Fulton's undoing. Figueroa deployed the same game plan he used to defeat Luis Nery, going hard to the body. Fulton did an excellent job deflecting much of the attack, throwing countershots to the center of Figueroa's body as well. Later, Figueroa explained his decision to engage. “I feel like I had to deal with it by staying where I was at. If I had been boxing, I would have gotten more tired than usual. I had to fight fire with fire.”

Fulton said later he wasn't surprised by Figueroa's outburst in the ring. “Nobody likes to lose.”

Fulton and Akhmadaliev in 2022

Stephen Fulton hopes to unify titles against Murodjon Ahkmadaliev. Photo: Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions

“It's only a matter of time. I want those belts from MJ,” said Fulton. He said he would need a break after maintaining weight and continuing training when the fight was delayed due to Figueroa contracting COVID-19.

Super bantamweight contender Ra'eese Aleem of Muskegon Michigan (19-0, 12 KOs) won a majority decision over Eduardo Baez of Mexicali, Mexico (19-2-2, 6 KOs) in the 10-round co-main event. Aleem now wants his opportunity to fight Fulton.

Bantamweight contender Gary Antonio Russell of Capitol Heights, Maryland (19-0. 12 KOs) was fortunate to squeak out a close win and remain undefeated over a tough Alexandro Santiago of Tijuana, Mexico (24-305, 13 KOs)  in a 10-round showdown to kick off the Showtime Boxing telecast.

“I thought I won the fight, and I thought I clearly out-boxed him,” said  Russell. “He was tough and tried to be rugged and aggressive. I had the headbutts from my last fight in the back of my mind, so I tried to keep it clean and get my rounds in.”