Stephen Fulton’s mission: Keep winning, keep entertaining

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We’ve known for some time that Stephen Fulton is a special boxer. In his most-recent fight he revealed something new, which might not be good news for his rivals.

Fulton probably could’ve outboxed then-WBO 122-pound titleholder Angelo Leo to win his first major belt this past January. Instead, the Philly fighter surprised many by slugging with a slugger and still emerged with a near-shutout decision and the coveted belt.

He faces another pressure fighter in WBC champ Brandon Figueroa on Nov. 27 in Las Vegas, where they’ll unify their titles.

“I like fighting that way,” he told Boxing Junkie. “I feel like my corner doesn’t like me fighting that way. And I respect that. Sometimes they do have to save the fighter from himself. We do want to save some for ourselves and our kids later on in life. And I understand that.

“[But] as a fighter you just want to put on a great performance. We want to be macho men or dogs. That’s what we live for. That’s the joyfulness and excitement that we get out of it.”

We could get more of the same on Nov. 27.

Leo and Figueroa are both strong, aggressive fighters who throw a lot of punches. However, Fulton said Figueroa brings a different level of intensity.

“Even though they’re similar, they’re totally different,” he said. “They bring different type of angles, different heat is thrown at you. Brandon is more of an overwhelming fighter, he’ll overwhelm you. Angelo Leo was just a person that’s going to come forward at you.”

Fulton was asked how he planned to handle that kind of pressure and he laughed, joking that the interviewer must be a spy working for Figueroa.

He wouldn’t reveal too much about his strategy, other than to say that he’ll, ‘Let the fight come to me, let him do his job. And I’ll work off of that.” In other words he’ll box when he needs to box and brawl when he needs to brawl.

One thing is clear: He’s confident. He’s focused on Figueroa – anything else would be suicide – but he’s thinking bigger than that.

Teofimo Lopez, Josh Taylor and Canelo Alvarez have demonstrated recently that it’s possible to become an undisputed champion even in an era of fragmented titles. Alvarez stopped Caleb Plant to win all four major 168-pound belts last week.

That’s what Fulton has in mind: defeat Figueroa and then target unbeaten Uzbek Murodjon “MJ” Akhmadaliev, who holds the IBF and WBA junior featherweight belts.

Fulton (19-0, 8 KOs) already is considered one of the best among a group of talented up-and-coming young stars, led by Lopez at the moment. Back-to-back victories over Figueroa and Akhmadaliev would lift him to the next level.

He believes that’s his destiny.

“For sure,” Fulton said. “I want us to get past Figueroa and then I want to go into the MJ fight. … [I just have to] keep winning, keep being happy, keep embracing the people, keep embracing the fans. That’ll bring me to the top.”

And it’s not enough simply to get to the pinnacle of the sport. He wants to give fans more of what they saw in his fight against Leo.

“I feel the more I … entertain people, the more I’ll be happy at doing my job,” he said. “Seeing the enjoyment [of] others will bring the best out of me. Now I know, ‘OK, they like that?’ I want to do it again. ‘They like that?’ OK, let me do it this way now.’

“That’s what I’m getting out of it right now.”

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