Stephen Fulton transformed what was projected as a tough fight with former champion Daniel Roman into one of the more definitive wins of his career on Saturday at The Armory in Minneapolis.
Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) demonstrated his numerous boxing skills along with a force of will over the final two rounds of a near shutout unanimous decision over Roman (29-4-1, 10 KOs).
“From the boxing IQ, the conditioning, the punch placement and the defense, if you want to build a fighter in the laboratory, the proof speaks for itself,” said Showtime Boxing analyst Mauro Ranallo.
“Stephen Fulton really has everything. That’s what makes Fulton special. If you want to talk about being on pound-for-pound lists, Stephen Fulton Jr. has proven to be one of the best after this performance tonight.”
“Cool Boy Steph” out-landed the “Baby Face Assassin,” a nickname for Roman, in overall punches (218-113), power shots (112-68) and jabs (106-45) on the way to winning, 119-108 on one judge’s card and 120-108 on the other two.
“I made a helluva statement tonight,” said Fulton, whose nine jabs landed per round were more than double the average for the weight class. “I prepared for this. I told y’all I was gonna make it an easy fight depending on how I woke up. I woke up feeling good.”
The 27-year-old Fulton was coming off November’s majority decision victory over Brandon Figueroa that added Figueroa’s WBC 122-pound title to his WBO version and made the Philadelphia native the eighth unified champion in the 45-year history of the super bantamweight division.
Fulton vanquished his ninth undefeated fighter in Figueroa (22-1-1 (17 KOs) after having gone 9-0-1 (9 KOs) in his previous 10 bouts.
“In the last outing with Brandon Figueroa, I didn’t have the energy and didn’t make the weight the right way,” said Fulton, who landed a hard left hand on Roman after switching to a southpaw stance in the seventh round. “Any moment he had, I took it right away from him. I neutralized the threat.”
Fulton pressed for the knockout and traded toe-to-toe against Roman over the final two rounds, rocking his rival several times in the last six minutes of the match.
“I saw him start to slow down, and the more I boxed him, I definitely saw him slowing down. I wanted to stop him, but I didn’t get it,” Fulton said.
Roman had won twice since January 2020, when he was dethroned as IBF/WBA champion following a disputed split decision loss to undefeated southpaw Murdjon Akhmadaliev. Akhmadaliev (10-0, 7 KOs) tied Leon Spinks’ record for becoming a unified champion in the quickest amount of time — in his eighth fight— by vanquishing Roman.
But Roman believes Fulton proved he is without a doubt better than Akhmadaliev, who defends his crown against Ronny Rios (33-3, 16 KOs) on June 25.
“No excuses. This fight proved who is the best 122-pound fighter in the division. Fulton did it tonight. He proved that, and I wish him the best, and I hope that he achieves what I couldn’t achieve and becomes undisputed. This fight showed who is the best fighter in the division. That’s Fulton,” Roman said.
“Fulton was the better man tonight. He knew how to use his distance, and it was hard to adjust to his distance because of his boxing. He came in and came out and made it hard for me to adjust. This fight again showed who is the best in the division, and that’s Fulton.”
Fulton had beaten four unbeaten boxers consecutively prior to facing Roman.
“I fought four undefeated fighters back-to-back to back. Two of them were world champions. Nobody else can say that they’ve done that,” Fulton said.
“I’ve been in the top 10, I don’t care what anyone says. I’m the only fighter that became a champion in 2021 and then unified it at the end of the year.”
Devin Haney Dominates George Kambosos, Becomes Undisputed at 135
Devin Haney easily out-boxed 135-pound counterpart George Kambosos of Australia for a one-sided unanimous decision in hostile territory on Saturday before 41,129 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.
In victory over “Ferocious” Kambosos (20-1, 10 KOs), the 23-year-old Haney (28-0, 15 KOs) added the IBF/WBO and WBA super title to his WBC version to become the division’s undisputed champion.
“I have to be up high on the pound-for-pound list because if you think about it, they’re saying that the 135-pound division is the best in boxing,” Haney said.
“There is only one top guy in the lightweight division. There is no more dispute. … I’m the top dog now. I’ve dreamed of this moment for many years, but it hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Haney’s triumph follows a May 28 victory by 27-year-old WBA regular champion Gervonta Davis (27-0, 25 KOs), who stopped Rolando Romero (14-1, 12 KOs) in the sixth round.
“If you win, let’s make the fight happen since you wanna talk crazy,” said Davis of Haney, who must grant a rematch to Kambosos in victory. “Let’s do that. I wanna fight you if you win, Devin Haney. Just know that the winner [of Haney-Kambosos] can come and see me.”
Edited by Richard Pretorius and Matthew B. Hall