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Boxing’s Underrated Champion Stephen Fulton Seeks Legacy-Defining Win Against Naoya Inoue

Fulton, holding multiple super bantamweight titles, faces Inoue in Japan's backyard in a battle for boxing supremacy.

PHILADELPHIA — Stephen Fulton, often referred to as one of the most underrated fighters in boxing, is vying to make his name known. Despite holding the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organizaition super bantamweight titles [122 pounds], Fulton still feels he hasn’t received his just due. Fulton will travel to Japan on July 25th to face one of boxing’s most feared punchers, Naoya Inoue, in what will be Inoue’s first fight at super bantamweight, coming up from bantamweight [118 pounds]. 

This could be the legacy defining fight that will garner the respect that Fulton deserves. Fulton 21-0 (8 knockouts) faces Inoue 24-0 (21 knockouts) and despite being the champion, will travel to Inoue’s backyard in a battle for super bantamweight supremacy. From the fighting city of Philadelphia, Fulton plans to show the world exactly why he’s known as “Cool Boy.” 

Zenger News caught up with Fulton to discuss his upcoming title defense, the obstacles that come with being underrated, and much more.

Zenger: You got the fight camp look going on. How is camp going? 

Fulton: It’s going good. Very good. 

Zenger: A lot of things prevented this fight from originally happening. How did you stay dialed in to the task at hand once you got a fight date? 

Fulton: My trainer keeps me focused, in the gym, and on the correct path. He’s making sure my weight is coming down good. He’s more so on time or jump on things early. With that type of mindset, I had no choice but to buckle down and stay focused. 

Zenger: Do you feel slighted as the champion when you hear some of the things they say about Naoya Inoue? 

Fulton: I really don’t pay that no mind. I don’t care about what they say. Everyone is bias to what they like. A lot of things he does, I’ve seen in the gym in Philly. It’s nothing that he does excites me. It excites the fans because they don’t see these things on the regular. But he is a great fighter. 

Stephen Fulton Fulton not worried about his placement on the Pound for Pound list, just hungry for a win in Japan.  in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania   on Jun 21, 2023, (Sean Michael Ham/TGB Promotions ) Fulton not worried about his placement on the Pound for Pound list, just hungry for a win in Japan.  

Zenger: Do you pay attention to Pound for Pound rankings, and if so, where does a win over Inoue place you in your mind? 

Fulton: I don’t know where it puts me. I can’t say I don’t pay attention to it because I see the list when they pop out. People will @ me when they come out otherwise, I don’t think I would see it. I don’t understand why they still got Lomachenko in there. I really don’t. It’s nothing against him, but they are keeping him in there no matter what. When you got guys like [Jermell] Charlo who is undisputed. There are other undisputed champs, and this guy don’t even have a belt. That’s my only opinion on it. I don’t care where I get placed though. I can’t say I don’t care; I don’t put my energy into where I’m placed. 

Zenger: I still call you “Scooter,” so it shows you how long I’ve been interviewing you. You always felt that you would be here, now that you are here, what does all of this mean to you? 

Fulton: It means a lot. It means I stayed on the correct path. I seen my vision at a younger age, an age that you know of, and I stuck to the script and now I’m here. 

Zenger: Have you wrapped your mind around the time difference, fighting on a different day, and all the things that come along with traveling to Japan for this fight? 

Fulton: I’m approaching it as a regular fight. When Monday comes and its weigh-in time, I probably will feel awkward, but it’s nothing that I can’t adjust to. That’s the whole point of the sport of boxing, being able to make adjustments. Everybody think it’s the knockouts, but the number one thing is being smart and number two is how you make adjustments. 

Zenger: This is a legacy defining fight. We have witnessed guys in the past win and defend their world titles internationally. Does that fact elevate you even more? 

Fulton: Yeah, of course. I feel like I’m going to automatically be in the history books after this. I’m already there in terms of becoming champion and unifying. Being one of the only ones to face as many undefeated fighters as I have. Half of my career is against undefeated fighters. This will be my 22nd fight, tenth undefeated fighter, eleven if you want to include the guy, I fought making his pro debut, technically he’s undefeated. Hell yeah! 

Stephen Fulton WBC and WBO super bantamweight champion defends against Naoya Inoue in Japan on July 25th.  in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania   on Jun 21, 2023, (Sean Michael Ham/TGB Promotions ) WBC and WBO super bantamweight champion defends against Naoya Inoue in Japan on July 25th.  

Zenger: It’s hard not to pay attention to what’s on social media. I saw a list come out today and someone asked, who is the most underrated fighter in boxing right now. Your name came up a lot. Do you feel like you’re underrated? 

Fulton: I feel like I’m underrated, but I’ve been feeling like that my whole life. I’m so used to it that I don’t even care anymore. After I go out here and do my thing and inshallah, I believe I will because I believe in myself and my mindset, I’m still going to be underrated. They are going to find a reason. They always find a reason no matter what. 

Zenger: How can you take your experiences from the gym and convert them into the ring on July 25th? 

Fulton: I have been in the ring with some great fighters, so I don’t think there will be a moment of surprise for me. I’ve been in the ring with guys like “Boots,” [Jaron Ennis] and you can’t tell me “Boots” can’t do some of the shit that Inoue does. I sparred him and he’s way bigger with power. When you train around guys like that, come on… self-explanatory for me. 

Zenger: Is this less about what Inoue brings to the table and more about you being you and having fun in there? 

Fulton: That’s what it is. That’s what I gotta do, be me, have fun, live in the moment, and enjoy myself. That’s all I gotta do is be me, because anytime I’m put in these situations, I don’t fold under pressure. I live up to the moment. I don’t care about what the fans or anybody is saying, I just gotta be me and have a clear head. If I wake up that morning feeling good, there’s nobody that can stop me. 

Zenger: What type of fight are you expecting from him because I’m sure he’s going to want to get the crowd behind him early? 

Fulton: I’m expecting a sharp, fast, patient pace from him. This will be new to him. I’m a different type of fighter and he’s a different type of fighter, that I will be facing. From the rip I feel like he’s going to come in there patient, but at a fast pace patient. He will try to set the tempo and set the tone because this is his backyard. On my behalf, I will be patient, but I’m always a relaxed fighter. That’s where “Cool Boy” comes from. Even under the pressure I’m relaxed. Even when they say, “Fulton’s hurt,” I’m still relaxed. I’ve been through those moments where I know how to handle myself and live up to those moments and adapt. I’m not going to give it to you how I’m going to approach the fight (laughing), but it will still be along those lines, but I’ll be thinking a lot more. 

Zenger: we have experienced some strange officiating and judging in fights lately. Does that loom over your head, or can you not focus on things out of your control? 

Fulton: I leave that up to my team. It’s in their hands. I know they will do the best that they can do to help me, but at the same time, it’s always going to be up to me because I’m the only one going to be in there with him besides the ref. 

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