Stephen Fulton has Philly on his mind.
The unbeaten 26-year-old (18-0, 6 KOs) will walk to the ring on Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, ready to take on Angelo Leo (20-0, 9 KOs) for his WBO super-bantamweight title. By the end of the night, Fulton’s home of Philadelphia will either still have no world champions on the circuit or their first since Julian Williams held two world crowns at 154lbs.
“It represents all my hard work and putting Philadelphia back on the map,” Fulton told Boxing Social when picturing victory on Saturday night. “There are no current world champions as of right now and I have this power to change all of that.”
Does he feel a sense of responsibility then?
“I wouldn’t really say a responsibility because I don’t put pressure on myself. It’s just something I have to do.”
Fulton is in the type of mood where he sees the task at hand as just a fight. Sure, as he said, it represents all his hard work but his walk of life from growing up in Philadelphia to catching Covid-19 last year (postponing an August clash with Leo for the vacant WBO crown) means he is relaxed enough to describe Saturday’s event as a “walk in the park”.
You see, Fulton grew up in a neighbourhood in West Philadelphia known as ‘The Bottom’.
“Something similar to the problem here is like Pompeii, Italy,” said hardware store owner Joe Boyd in 2014 after a shooting in an area called Mantua.
“People lived at the base of an active volcano for thousands of years, but no one really talked about it much. That’s what the gun violence problem is like in Mantua.”
Gun violence in any part of America is sadly like saying the grass is green and the water is wet. While Boxing Social had little time to speak to Fulton about his time growing up in ‘The Bottom’ because of an active day of media duties, he has in the past spoke about surviving on those streets. Take hood survival and add surviving the coronavirus, the world’s deadliest pandemic since the Spanish Flu in 1918, and you can see why he would treat any boxing match as a walk in the park.
“That’s like a medal of honour,” he said of his street experiences.
“We carry that with us. Those are our war scars. That is us. It makes that person who they are and it helps them in life in general. I feel like when I fight these things I have overcome and have been through it makes the magnitude of these fights a walk in the park to me. Along with me learning the mental aspect of it and having to deal with the ring generalship and the things we do have to go through in the ring.”
The mental aspect has been a pivotal part of Fulton’s development as a fighter. He once said he would be unstoppable if he could master that critical aspect of the fight business.
“I have mastered the mental part of it and I’m going to continue to do that,” said Fulton. “I’m becoming a veteran slowly but surely. [On Saturday,] I’m looking to engage. I’m looking to fight. I’m looking to mix it up and do all types of things. I’m just looking to bring home that world title.”
Main image and all photos: Amanda Westcott/Showtime.