Stephen Fulton put an end to Angelo Leo’s title reign after just five months.
There is at least one potential challenger out there who is eager to return the favor.
Michael Conlan hopes to have his name called for his first career title fight in the coming months, as he is now campaigning in the junior featherweight division. The two-time Olympian and 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist was ranked number two by the WBO heading into this past weekend’s title fight, where Fulton (19-0, 8KOs) delivered a breakout performance in scoring a 12-round decision over Leo (20-1, 9KOs) to win the belt.
“It was a very good performance by Stephen Fulton, I expected him to win but he made it wider than I thought it would be,” Conlan told BoxingScene.com. “I think very highly of Stephen Fulton. He and Angelo Leo were both ranked ahead of me once I dropped down to the [122-pound] division so I knew I’d be fighting one of them for my first title.
“A fight with Fulton is first on my list and I’d like to fight him as soon as possible.”
Belfast’s Conlan (14-0, 8KOs) made the decision last summer to drop down from featherweight, where he was previously in position to challenge for a title. The initial wave of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic canceled what would have been a 2020 St. Patrick’s Day headliner at MSG Theater in New York City, marking the first time in four years where he didn’t get to fight on the holiday. Soon thereafter came the idea to instead campaign at junior featherweight, where the WBO inserted him as the number-two contender.
One more fight is planned, potentially in March or April and with Conlan’s preference to face an opponent where a win would firmly make him first in line for a crack at Fulton.
“It’s funny reading the comments on Twitter, the fans already decided that I want no part of these guys,” laughed Conlan. “I knew the top fighters at this weight when I made the decision to move down here. I knew that Fulton and Leo were ahead of me (for the WBO title) and that I’d be fighting the winner for my first title shot.
“I am in position where the WBO title is well within reach for me and I’d like to fight Stephen Fulton as soon as possible. I know that he just fought, he just won the title and I am due to come back soon. After that, I believe we can fight this summer.”
Conlan, 29, scored a 10th round knockout of Sofiane Takoucht in his most recent fight last August in East London. A planned Dec. 5 fight in London was shut down after Conlan suffered a tear to his left anterior talo-fibular ligament, from which he fully recovered and has resumed training camp for his next planned fight this spring.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox