This past weekend was special as we had a major upset victory, but shortly after, a Super-Bantamweight unification was taking place. Stephen Fulton Jr. and Brandon Figueroa were in the ring, getting ready to embark on what ended up as a close competitive battle between two unbeaten fighters.
The fight played out exactly the way most thought it would as Figueroa brought the pressure, and Fulton Jr. utilized his high-level skills to create a great one. As you watch the fight, the ebbs and flows of it were something to marvel at. Fulton Jr. could have made this fight easy for himself as early on; his precision punching along with going in and out had Figueroa following him all over the ring. But as Stephen mentioned to me a week earlier, he wanted to show the nasty Philly side, which is why the fight had so much action.
Upon the conclusion of the last round, most either had the fight a draw or razor-thin for either guy. The scores read 114-114 & 116-112 twice for the twenty-seven-year-old out of Philadelphia, PA.
After the fight, there was some back and forth between the two fighters as Figueroa thought he won, but everyone got over it shortly after. Once the drama ended, Stephen Fulton Jr. walked out of the arena as the unified Super Bantamweight champion.
Although this is a huge accomplishment, these types of fights don’t receive the media runs afterward they should get when a fighter accomplishes such a milestone. With all of the focus on the new unified lightweight champion, I decided to check in with Stephen Fulton Jr. for somewhat of a victory lap as it is well deserved.
Fulton Jr. expressed that he watched the fight on social media, so I asked him if there was anything that surprised him that night. Fulton Jr. said, “Nothing was surprising. I knew what was going to occur, but I went about it in a way I shouldn’t have.” Many felt that mid to late rounds, he played to Brandon's style, which he acknowledged that it may not have been the best way to go about it. Fair assessment from someone watching the fight days after it occurred.
Often, we can see everything that goes on in the ring, but I was more interested in knowing the adjustments Fulton Jr. made that we couldn’t see.“I made a lot of adjustments. Pushing him back and using my legs more in the last two rounds got me the clear victory. I did great the first round and should have kept it that way throughout the fight. There were a lot of good things I saw on the playback to include a lot of catching and shooting, so it was a good fight.”
Again, some public honesty within his performance is a rarity as ego tends to get in the way of such things. But for Fulton Jr, this doesn’t seem like something he has an issue doing as he comes off as a well-mannered guy with some good morals. Fast-forward to the end of the fight, where most thought it was close. Did he think so?
“I felt it was close and that certain rounds I didn’t get, I should have as it was the fans and him swinging away that made people assume the fight was a robbery. I landed the clearer shots and catching a lot of his while tying him up in certain areas so he couldn’t get certain shots off too. It was a clear and smart victory,” said the unified champion.
After the decision was read and his hand was raised, Fulton Jr. was filled with joy. His thoughts at the moment were simple. He said, “It was a relief to me because I knew how close the fight was. Everything was still fresh, and things didn’t hit me right away. Now, I feel good about it. I’m happy to be the first unified Super Bantamweight Champion from Philly.”
Once he and his team left the arena, they had a little celebration; after all, it was Vegas.
Only a few days later, the WBC and WBO jointly decided to make Daniel Roman (29-3-1) the mandatory challenger for Stephen Fulton Jr.
I asked Fulton Jr. about it, and he said, “Yeah, that’s cool. Something like that can be in Philly. I’m not sure that’s next, as the WBC mentioned a possible rematch with Brandon (Figueroa), so I would like to do something like that and make the win clearer.” Not many would revisit a fight, especially if it were close, but Fulton Jr. wants to be considered one of the best and knows the public opinion has a lot to do with that.
Looking ahead in general, what does Fulton Jr want to accomplish next year? He told NYFights, “I feel like I can become undisputed next year and start my journey at 26.” That would sound good for most fighters, but I know he means it. Stephen Fulton Jr. captured two titles within his division only ten months apart from each other, so you know he means business.
Lastly, he had a message for everyone. Fulton Jr. said, “I want to thank God first. Thank you to everyone that has and continues to support me thru thick and thin. Thank you to the believers and non-believers. “
My Three Cents
Most boxing sharps were on to Stephen Fulton Jr as he has all of the talents to become something special in the future. The question was if he could win the “big” one, and on Saturday night, he showed that he could remain composed and put on career-defining performances on the biggest stage.
The sky’s the limit for this fighter out of Philly, and his journey will be exciting to watch so fasten that seat belt and take that ride because Stephen Fulton Jr. is going places in boxing.