New WBO super-bantamweight champion Stephen Fulton wants a unification fight when he next returns to the ring.
The 26-year-old Philadelphian put in an eye-catching performance against Angelo Leo on Saturday night to take the title after 12 tough rounds of action. which went the way of the challenger on the scorecards (119-109 twice and 118-10).
Fulton was still on a championship winning high when he spoke to Boxing Social on Tuesday but is already eyeing his ultimate goal at 122lbs before moving up in weight.
“I want to be the first [ever] undisputed champion [at super-bantamweight],” said Fulton.
As things stand, Murodjon ‘MJ’ Akhmadaliev holds the IBF and WBA ‘Super’ versions while Luis Nery is the WBC champion and it’s the latter who Fulton hopes to take on next. Nery is scheduled to face the WBA’s ‘Regular’ champion Brandon Figueroa in the first quarter this year but there has been no official announcement. Fulton is tipping the Mexican to prevail and had this to say about ‘Pantera’.
“He’s a good fighter. I put him No.2 behind me. I gotta put MJ in there, too. But I gotta put myself first. I’m No.1 in front of them all, I believe. They’re all great fighters though.”
The division is alive with talent and formidable challengers and there is one from Belfast who wants a shot at Fulton. Michael Conlan will soon be installed as the No.1 contender for the WBO title and, on Sunday in an interview with Boxing Social,he had a message for the new champ: “Keep the belt warm, keep the belt clean because I’m coming to take it soon.”
Boxing Social asked Fulton for his response.
“I don’t really have a response to that because I’m No.1 now. I expect that. I expect him to say those things, but I can say if we were to fight in 2021, he will be throwing up middle fingers again because he will not get this decision. They can’t beat me.”
Fulton is clearly relishing the role of champion and being a marked man.
“It feels good. I feel like I’m a bad little kid right now.”
Boxing Social asked what he meant by that comment.
“Because it feels like I was the one always fighting for the belt. Now I’m the one where everyone is saying, ‘Oh we wanna fight you’. So now I can sit back and laugh and think, ‘Damn, that’s how I felt to want to fight people’. We’ve switched feet now. We’ve turned the shoes over so now I’m getting called out [and] it feels amazing to me because I’m still calling out the other champions. I didn’t take a step back; I’m still moving forward and I’m still doing the hunting.”
His performance against Leo, where Fulton took the fight to the rough, tough champion and beat him at his own game, left him feeling happy with his display but not completely satisfied.
“I’m very, very happy. Satisfied, I’m okay for now but I’m never satisfied because I’m wanting to accomplish my undisputed goal,” said Fulton. “I would give myself an eight-and-a-half, nine out of ten because I know I can do better than that. I feel like the lay-off showed what I have but it also didn’t show there’s more as I could have done if I stayed a little bit more active.”
While the quest for perfection and satisfaction continues, Fulton is smiling from ear to ear because he is a world champion and has put Philadelphia back on the boxing map. The feeling hasn’t quite sunk in but, as he explained, it will hopefully hit home this week.
“I believe I’ll be getting my belt this week so when I get that belt that’s when it’s going to hit me,” explained Fulton. “It’s already slowly but surely hitting me because a lot of people are contacting me. I’m just feeling good because I put my stamp on the history books and that’s the major thing right now. Philadelphia is a huge city, and a lot of fighters came before me and not all of them were world champions. I accomplished that so that’s put me in a higher place in the Philadelphia boxing history books so I’m feeling awesome right now.”
Main image: Amanda Westcott/Showtime.