Stephen Fulton Jr meets Daniel Roman in a high quality WBC and WBO super-bantamweight showdown on Saturday night. Luke G. Williams previews a match-up between two of boxing’s best-kept secrets…
Neither Stephen Fulton Jr nor Daniel Roman could be described as high-profile pugilists, yet the duo represent much of what is good about boxing.
Both men are excellent technicians who seem happier doing their talking with their fists rather than on social media or in bad-tempered press conferences.
Respect between the duo is mutual, rather than grudging, and the rivalry between them predominantly professional rather than personal as they prepare to face off this Saturday night at the Armory in Minneapolis for Fulton’s WBC and WBO super-bantamweight world titles.
“I chose [to fight] Danny Roman,” Philadelphia native Fulton (20-0, 8 KOs) explained in the build-up to the fight. “He deserved the opportunity, so I gave it to him. 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. 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.”
Roman (29-3-1, 10 KOs), for his part, has admitted: “I’m up against a very skilled fighter who doesn’t have many flaws, but every man has a weakness, and I’m going to exploit Fulton’s. I believe my style will be very difficult for him to adjust to. He’s never been in the ring with an experienced fighter like me.
“I know what needs to be done to be victorious in this fight. The world will see a greatly improved version of myself in this fight. I’ll be throwing a lot of punches till the final bell and I’m preparing to go the distance.”
The 27-year-old Fulton is the odds-on favourite to prevail and deservedly so, after a brilliant 2021 when he had a decent case to be considered among the leading fighter of the year candidates and the top ten in the world pound for pound.
In January he outboxed and out-fought the hitherto unbeaten Angelo Leo in a masterful performance to claim the WBO 122lbs strap, while in November he added Brandon Figueroa’s WBC title to his collection after edging a majority decision in a fight of the year contender.
Fulton has been matched pretty tough throughout his career, facing off against nine unbeaten fighters in his 20 contests to date, and overcoming each of these challenges with distinction. Now, by facing Roman, Fulton – for the third fight in a row – is taking on one of the top operators at 122lbs, and a man who is a former unified champion at the weight himself.
The only fighter to have defeated Roman in the past eight years is the accomplished Murodjon Akhmadaliev, who relieved him of his hard-earned WBA super and IBF belts back in 2020. The Uzbek is rated by many – Boxing Social included – as the number one 122lb-er in the world, and Roman pushed him all the way, only losing via split decision.
However, Roman is now 32 and the feeling persists that his career may be on a slight downward gradient, whereas Fulton is at – or approaching – his peak. An excellent counter-puncher who can also fight on the inside, ‘Cool Boy Steph’ appears to hold the aces here in what will surely be a distance fight.
Neither man possesses paralysing power and both seem pretty durable, Fulton having never – by my reckoning – been down as a pro, except when Arnold Khegai threw him to the canvas, while Roman – despite three losses – has never been stopped.
Roman will doubtless be willing and throw a lot of leather but I think Fulton’s precision and pedigree will ultimately prevail via a close, possibly split decision, after a fight in which both men demonstrate their skill and class.