The amount of work Stephen Fulton has put in over the years has paid off. He’s become a world champion, has gained a ton of fans, and most importantly, has earned life-changing money.

His hands are gifted. Fast and fluid combinations are second nature to him. He isn’t the hardest puncher, but he has enough snap on his shots to gain the respect he needs in the ring.

Ultimately, regardless of how good he normally is, Fulton couldn’t get it going this past Tuesday morning in Japan. For whatever reason, the 29-year-old fought timid and listlessly against Naoya Inoue, resulting in an eighth-round stoppage defeat and the forfeiture of his WBC and WBO super bantamweight titles.

Fulton is trying to make it all make sense. And while he appreciates everyone that’s reached out and attempted to cheer him up, he’s still kicking himself.

“Disappointed in myself because I am better than that,” explained Fulton on Instagram. “It wasn’t my night.”

From the moment the opening bell rang, Inoue pushed the pace and never quite respected what Fulton had to offer.

The Philly star envisioned a beautiful night of boxing capped off with an upset win. His career, up until that point, convinced him that losing was never an option. Before taking on Inoue, Fulton was considered by most as the best super bantamweight in the world. That distinction, from Fulton’s point of view, isn’t a fluke.

Fulton desperately wants a do-over. A chance to prove that what took this place in Japan was nothing more then just a bad night at the office. He knows that it will be difficult to erase those haunting memories but Fulton is confident that he won’t let his lopsided loss define his career.

“I am amongst the elite and I didn’t show that which is why I’m hurt through it all. I am better then this but I will be back.”