LAS VEGAS – Brandon Figueroa figures Stephen Fulton looks at him the same way many other opponents have viewed him.
No matter what Fulton has stated to the contrary, Figueroa feels his fellow undefeated 122-pound champion is overlooking him to some degree. Once they square off Saturday night, however, Figueroa is confident Fulton will learn immediately why he isn’t as easy to beat as it may look from outside of the ring.
“I know he has studied my style in particular, but it’s different once I’m in front of you,” Figueroa told BoxingScene.com. “I feel like he has underestimated me for a long time. So, I think it’s just time for us to get in the ring and just see who’s the better man.”
Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs) and Fulton (19-0, 8 KOs) were supposed to fight for Figueroa’s WBC super bantamweight title and Fulton’s WBO junior featherweight crown September 18 at Park MGM’s Park Theater in Las Vegas. The 24-year-old Figueroa contracted COVID-19 early in September, though, which caused a two-month postponement of this “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event.
Philadelphia’s Fulton is listed by most sportsbooks as a 3-1 favorite to defeat Figueroa, of Weslaco, Texas. Still, Fulton predicted Figueroa would beat another favored fighter, Luis Nery, in Figueroa’s most recent appearance and assures anyone who will listen that he is not overlooking an opponent whose defensive flaws make him seem very vulnerable.
“He don’t have no quit in him, and I’ve gotta give that to him,” Fulton told BoxingScene.com. “I feel like he’s a dog in his own ways. He has the will to win, you know, that willpower to keep going and dig deep and to win. He’ll try to do whatever he have to do to pull out the victory. He gonna make it ugly. It’s gonna be an ugly fight, but he’s gonna do what he gotta do to win. I like fighters like that, and I like being in fights like that, because it’s gonna show what I can do and what I can bring to the table as well. So, the type of style that he has, it may be an ugly style, but he fights his style very well.
“He’s good at what he do, and a lot of people overlook that. I notice that. I may talk sh!t here and there – that’s my job. If I don’t do it, who will do it? Because he’s quiet, so if I don’t do it, who’s gonna do it? … So, it’s like they may say, ‘He has a big mouth. He talks a lot.’ But if I don’t do this sh!t, who’s gonna do it? It’ll be a good fight, but other than that we wanna see something that’s gonna sell a fight. You know what I’m saying? So, I had to play my part as well. I mean what I say, but he’s a good fighter, though. I mean, he’s here for a reason.”
Figueroa dropped and knocked out Mexico’s Nery with a body shot during the seventh round of their championship match May 15 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The 26-year-old Nery (31-1, 24 KOs) is a southpaw who is considered a harder puncher than Fulton, yet he also might be better suited for the bantamweight limit of 118 pounds.
“They’re both different fighters,” Figueroa said. “They say styles make fights, and I feel like I have the style to beat both. I have a style that’s very adaptable. I can do a little bit of everything. But I feel with Stephen Fulton, he’s a little bit more technical. So, I have to be a little bit smarter in the ring. But the goal is the same, to go in there and dominate and make sure that I break him down.”
Figueroa-Fulton will headline Showtime’s three-bout broadcast.
Unbeaten 122-pound contender Ra’eese Aleem (18-0, 12 KOs), of Muskegon, Michigan, will meet Mexico’s Eduardo Baez (20-1-2, 7 KOs) in the 10-round co-feature. The telecast is scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT with a 10-round bout between bantamweight contender Gary Antonio Russell (18-0, 12 KOs), of Capitol Heights, Maryland, and Alexandro Santiago (24-2-5, 13 KOs), of Tijuana, Mexico.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.