UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – As much as Stephen Fulton appreciates what transpired two weeks ago, one junior featherweight world title isn’t nearly enough for him.
The newly crowned WBO 122-pound champion wants to face another title-holder in his next fight. Philadelphia’s Fulton (19-0, 8 KOs) mentioned Luis Nery (WBC), Brandon Figueroa (WBA world) and Murodjon Akhmadaliev (IBF, WBA “super”) as his top options for his return to the ring later this year.
Mexico’s Nery (31-0, 24 KOs) and Figueroa (21-0-1, 17 KOs), of Weslaco, Texas, might fight each other, however, which would leave Akhmadaliev as the most likely candidate for Fulton in a championship unification fight. Uzbekistan’s Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6 KOs) hasn’t fought since he defeated Daniel Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) by split decision in their 12-rounder last January 30 in Miami to win the WBA “super” and IBF titles.
“I would like to [fight] Luis Nery, Brandon [Figueroa],” Fulton stated in the aftermath of his unanimous-decision victory over Angelo Leo. “I wanna fight [Figueroa] the same way, fight him in his fight. He say all I do is run, too. I wanna fight him. MJ, I’ll welcome him out of his little retirement thing, whatever he’s doing, a long layoff. I want champions. I wanna be the undisputed. I want champions, all champions.”
Fulton definitely didn’t run against Leo (20-1, 9 KOs) in Showtime’s main event at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The 26-year-old Fulton typically well works off his jab and utilizes distance to out-box his opponents. Fulton often fought the relentless Leo on the inside, though, and essentially beat the Albuquerque native at his own game by hammering him with body shots, straight rights and uppercuts.
Fulton took complete control by the middle rounds and won by big margins on all three scorecards. Judges Frank Lombardi (119-109) and John McKaie (119-109) scored 11 rounds apiece for Fulton, who won 10 rounds on Steve Weisfeld’s card (118-110).
Though Fulton hadn’t boxed in almost exactly a year, he was sharp and very active against a rugged opponent who rarely stopped moving forward.
CompuBox credited Fulton for landing 364-of-1,183 punches overall, 102 more than Leo (262-of-810). According to CompuBox, Fulton connected on more power punches (320-of-913 to 238-of-688) and jabs (44-of-270 to 24-of-122).
“I would like to fight another title-holder,” Fulton said. “I would like to show that I’m the best in the weight division. After a year off, I feel like I did a good job. But I can be a lot better and a lot sharper, if I would’ve stayed a little bit more active.”
Fulton and Leo were scheduled to fight August 1 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Tramaine Williams replaced Fulton on three days’ notice, as soon as Fulton tested positive for COVID-19. Leo beat Williams (19-1, 6 KOs, 1 NC), a southpaw from New Haven, Connecticut, by unanimous decision to win the then-vacant WBO belt.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.