The last time Jr. featherweight was this loaded, boxing was gifted several stars that helped carry the sport for the next fifteen years through multiple weight classes.
The current crop may not have a Manny Pacquiao, Marco Antonio Barrera, or Erik Morales when the dust settles. That’s a lot to ask for any new crop.
But then again, it may.
We’re always watching history unfold in real time. We know later just how historical that history was. For now, it’s enough to have one hell of a main event. Showtime (9 PM EST) might just have the fight of the week.
In one corner, a rising new talent with title wins in each of his last two fights. In the other, a former unified champion who could have the other half of the hardware in the division with just a little different luck.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Title: WBO Jr. Featherweight (2021-Present, 1 Defense); WBC Super Bantamweight (2021-Present, 1st Attempted Defense)
Previous Titles: None
Height: 5’6 ½
Weight: 121 ½ lbs.
Hails from: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Record: 20-0, 8 KO
Press Rankings: #1 (TBRB, Ring, ESPN, BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 2-0
Last Five Opponents: 100-2-2 (.971)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Angelo Leo UD12, Brandon Figueroa MD12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Paulus Ambunda UD12
Previous Titles: WBA Super Bantamweight (2017-20, 4 Defenses); IBF Jr. Featherweight (2019-20)
Weight: 121 ½ lbs.
Hails from: Los Angeles, California
Record: 29-3-1, 10 KO
Press Rankings: #3 (TBRB, Ring), #5 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 5-1, 2 KO
Last Five Opponents: 94-7-2 (.941)
Notable Outcomes, Ring/TBRB Rated Foes: Shun Kobo TKO9; Moises Flores UD12; TJ Doheny MD12; Murodjon Akhmadaliev L12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Juan Carlos Payano UD12
The Pick: While Fulton’s streak of four straight undefeated opponents is broken here, it’s not a step backwards. Roman is the most experienced, tested professional he’s seen and has a real chance to win.
The upside for this fight is in its style clash. Both men move their hands, possess excellent fundamentals, and neither has been a consistently devastating puncher. The easiest bet on this fight is that it goes the distance and in doing so has some of the ingredients that made fights like Johnny Tapia-Paulie Ayala so much fun in another generation.
Fulton has some advantages that are hard to ignore. He’s taller, has longer arms, and is quicker of both hand and foot. One of the things that cost Roman in his title loss to Akhmadaliev is the challenger that night was first too often. Fulton is going to be first a lot in this fight and his attack varies wisely between head and body. Fulton can be countered and touched with the jab so Roman’s patience will be key. He has to let Fulton create some openings for him and then use those to make his statements.
That means Roman may have to wait for Fulton’s temperament to take over. Against Leo and Figueroa, Fulton showed he can be drawn into exchanges. Fulton has a pretty classic Philly thirst for battle, sometimes opting not to use his gifts in a way that can make fights easier. It’s certainly better for fans that way.
The speed edge here just might be too vast for Fulton to leave enough openings for a war. This should be a good fight but the thinking here is it will be a final coming out for Fulton in many respects. The pick is Fulton by clear decision.
Rold Picks 2022: 24-6
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org