Advertisement: IBO Boxing
Advertisement
Boxingscene.com
Advertisement

Fulton Out To Steal Danny Garcia's Saturday Night Show in Brooklyn

image

Stephen Fulton Jr. is in a good place.

And if a fighter’s demeanor – particularly a cool, confident, almost playful mood – only five days before entering the ring is indicative, it could be a very big weekend for the little Philadelphia belt-holder.

In fact, the 25-year-old super bantamweight will be introduced as a reigning and defending champion for the first time on Saturday night, when he heads about two hours up I-95 to appear on a Showtime-telecast event from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Fulton, now 17-0 with eight knockouts, will risk his IBO share of the 122-pound empire against fellow unbeaten Arnold Khegai (16-0-1, 10 KO) in the first of two fights to be aired beneath the Danny Garcia-Ivan Redkach welterweight main event.

“Oh, I know it. It’s going to sound amazing,” said Fulton, who earned the belt with a 12-round defeat of veteran Paulus Ambunda last May. “It’s the first time that I’ve fought on a Danny Garcia show, and I’m excited about that. I don’t think too much about it because I know that I will seize the opportunity.

“I will steal the show. I know what I’m coming to do. I will perform at my best.

“It’s not me putting pressure on myself, it’s just what I know about myself. I’m an entertainer. I come to give the fans what they want. And I know that I will do that. It’s just who I am.”

And as for those who dismiss the “IBO champion” part of the equation, he’s got a ready reply.

“Some people try to shy away from the IBO, but I ain’t having it,” he said. “They sometimes will bill me as a ‘top contender’ or an ‘unbeaten prospect,’ but no, I’m not a top contender. I’m the IBO champion. I earned that status whether they like it or not, and I would like to be addressed by that name.

“That’s how I feel. I feel like they’re hiding my accomplishment by not regarding me correctly.”

Raised in a rugged North Philadelphia neighborhood, Fulton took up boxing as a 12-year-old and ultimately ascended to title-winning success in Silver and Golden Gloves programs while training in a West Philadelphia gym named after late middleweight contender James Shuler.

He turned pro at age 20 and scored seven wins within 12 months, and ultimately beat five fighters with unbeaten records by the close of 2017. He parlayed that success into a spot as Carl Frampton’s lead training partner prior to the Northern Irishman’s fight with Nonito Donaire in April 2018.

stephen-fulton_1

Frampton won the bout by unanimous decision and gave Fulton high praise.

“Stephen’s a fighter with enormous talent,” he said.

“The difference between Stephen and other sparring partners we’ve had over here is that he wanted to learn and improve. I’m very impressed with his potential.”

Fulton returned to the U.S. and won two bouts of his own in 2018, then added another victory in January 2019 before the one-sided dethroning of Ambunda, who’d gone 27-2 in a career stretching back to 2007 – when his eventual conqueror was only 9.

The winner earned 120-107 margins on all three scorecards.

In a subsequent bout three months later, Fulton made a quick jump to featherweight for a sixth-round KO of Isaac Avelar, who’d arrived at the ring in Edinburg, Texas with a pristine 16-0 record.

Saturday’s challenger, Khegai, incidentally, has 16 wins and a draw in 17 professional fights – making him the seventh unbeaten fighter to stand across from Fulton.

The champion will have one-inch edges in both height (5-foot-7 to 5-6) and reach (67 inches to 66), while Khegai has a better KO rate (10 in 16 wins, 62.5 percent) than Fulton (8 in 17 wins, 47 percent).
 
“I’ve watched him one or two times. I’ve seen what I had to see,” Fulton said. “I’ve seen enough.

“He won’t be the same person he was against those guys because of the type of fighter that I am. He comes with a lot of aggression. A lot of ‘ah, ah’ and loud noises. I see a lot of things that I’m going to take advantage of. And it’s just going to be my fight. He’s going to fight the way I allow him to fight.”

The two are listed just four slots apart – No. 29 (Fulton) and No. 33 (Khegai) – in the Independent World Boxing Rankings, with Fulton’s defeat of Ambunda, then ranked 27th, far outpacing any of Khegai’s wins.

For the record, WBO champion Emmanuel Navarrete is ranked No. 1 at 122, followed by IBF/WBA champ Daniel Roman at No. 2 and WBC title-holder Rey Vargas at No. 3.

“Right now, I’m focused on what’s in front of me. After that, we’ve got a lot to talk about,” Fulton said.

“Once I come out (Saturday night), you’ll know it’s my night. By seeing my energy and how I carry myself, it’ll be my show from Round 1 until as long as the fight goes.”

* * * * * * * * * *

This week’s title-fight schedule:

IBO super bantamweight title – Brooklyn, New York
Stephen Fulton Jr. (champion/No. 29 IWBR) vs. Arnold Khegai (No. 26 IBO/No. 33 IWBR)
Fulton (17-0, 8 KO): First title defense; Scored TKO win in only previous Brooklyn fight
Khegai (16-0-1, 10 KO): First title fight; Only one of 17 fights have gone beyond eight rounds
Fitzbitz says: A fun fight between intriguing 122-pound prospects, and it happens to have a title belt attached. The slim vibe here is that Fulton has more to offer. But it’s close. Fulton by decision (55/45)

Last week's picks: 1-1 (WIN: Formella; LOSS: Williams)
2020 picks record: 1-1 (50 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,117-366 (75.3 percent)

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.

User Comments and Feedback
Comment by YoungManRumble on 01-21-2020

[QUOTE=Bronx2245;20338346]Cool Boy Steph...Let's Work! Philly got embarrassed last weekend! Do it for your city![/QUOTE] Two weekends in a row actually. Rule of threes incoming. He has a couple decent wins but looked pretty vulnerable vs Adam Lopez. His opponent is…

Comment by Bronx2245 on 01-21-2020

Cool Boy Steph...Let's Work! Philly got embarrassed last weekend! Do it for your city!

Comment by glenn mcrory on 01-21-2020

lol So ldbc boxing is so in the gutter we’re counting IBO title fights now? And no, he is not unbeaten against unbeaten fighters. The only two opponents of note he's faced, Greer(who has since gone on to be completely…

Comment by Tatabanya on 01-21-2020

Oh, yeah? I'm backing Khegai at 8.5. I would not be surprised if he knocks out Fulton. The guy is a pitbull.

ADD COMMENT VIEW COMMENTS (4)
Advertisement
Top Headlines
Rau'Shee Warren: Back In May, Then Go After These Guys With Belts Plant: We're Gonna Get To Canelo, He's Got Fights Left On His Contract Wilder: If Fury Takes The Fight To Me, It's Gonna Be A Short Night! Sauerland: I Can See Feigenbutz Faring Better At Middleweight Terri Harper Wants More, Aims To Unify The Entire Division News: Mike Hilton, Jackson England, Ultimate Boxxer, More Jayson Velez Reflects: I Beat Arboleda, The Public Knows It Fury: I'll Show My Power - I'll Make Deontay Wilder Quit! Mayweather: I'm Athlete of The Decade - NOT LeBron James Wilder-Fury Rematch: What We've Been Waiting For Warren: Knockdowns Give Fury Psychological Edge Over Wilder Spike O'Sullivan Anticipates 154 Title Eliminator on Canelo Card Adrian Montoya Takes Down Juan Torres in Two Rounds Cameron Krael Stuns Ravshan Hudaynazarov By Split Nod Haye: Fury Taking Big Gamble With Decision To Change Trainer Dulay Furious With Loss: I Boxed The Hell Out Of Magdaleno Mike Tyson: Fury Getting Up Was Like Rocky, Made Me a Fan Caleb Plant Not Keen On Short-Notice Fight Versus Canelo Perrella on TKO Loss: I Won Every Round - It's Like Chavez-Taylor Rau'Shee Warren: Felt Good To Be Back, I Want To Return in May Abel Ramos Stops Perrella With 1 Second Left in Fight Dubois: Joe Joyce Will Retire, This Will Be His Last Career Fight! Caleb Plant: I Want David Benavidez, I'm Tired of Waiting! Ryan Garcia: I Look Like A F--kin' Beast At 21 Years Old! Caleb Plant Batters, Dominates Feigenbutz in TKO Win Jordan Gill Back, Has Return Set For March 28 In London Dorticos Expects a "Classic" Battle With Mairis Briedis in Riga News: Kash Ali, Alex Dilmaghani, Brad Foster, Chamberlain, More Mike Tyson Reacts To Wilder's Prediction of Beating Him Kell Brook: I'd Be 100% in Errol Spence Rematch - I'd Beat Him Benavidez Warns Plant: Easy To Look Good Against a Bum! Elwin Soto Destroys Javier Rendon in The First Round Hearn: Pressure on Joshua To KO Pulev - They Will Trade Punches Caleb Plant Beats Down Overmatched Feigenbutz, TKO in Ten Caleb Plant vs. Vincent Feigenbutz - LIVE BoxingScene Scorecard Abel Ramos Scores Dramatic Stoppage of Bryant Perrella Diego Magadeleno Drops, Shocks Austin Dulay For Decision Win Plant: Not Here To Be Nice To Feigenbutz, Here To Knock Him Out Rau'Shee Warren Returns, Decisions Gilberto Mendoza Over Ten Ramos: Perrella's Trash Talk Is As Basic As The Way He Fights
Advertisement
Advertisement
Latest Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement