MINNEAPOLIS – Stephen Fulton fought his way into position Saturday night to pursue the two titles Daniel Roman lost two years ago.
Fulton’s boxing ability, intelligence, movement and speed troubled Roman for most of their 12-round, 122-pound title fight at The Armory. The undefeated Fulton got into a rhythm during the early rounds, controlled distance throughout the bout and comfortably beat the former IBF and WBA champion on all three scorecards.
Judges Mike Fitzgerald (120-108), Patrick Morley (120-108) and Nathan Palmer (119-109) scored Fulton a very wide winner. Fitzgerald and Morley credited the WBC and WBO champion for shutting out Roman, who won one round on Palmer’s scorecard.
“I made a hell of a statement tonight, you know?,” Fulton told Showtime’s Brian Campbell during his post-fight interview. “I prepared for this. I told y’all I was gonna make it easy and fight depending on how I wake up. And I woke up feeling good.”
His masterful performance moved Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) into position to pursue a full title unification fight with IBF/WBA champ Murodjon Akhmadaliev. Uzbekistan’s Akhmadaliev (10-0, 7 KOs) is scheduled to defend his titles against American Ronny Rios (33-3, 16 KOs) on June 25 at Tech Port Arena in San Antonio.
“Y’all already know I want MJ next,” Fulton said. “I got to. We gotta finish this up. But much respect to Danny Roman, much respect.”
Philadelphia’s Fulton, who went off as at least a 6-1 favorite according to most sportsbooks, successfully defended his WBC and WBO championships against Roman (29-4-1, 10 KOs) in the main event of this “Showtime Championship Boxing” doubleheader.
The 27-year-old champion defended his WBO belt for the second time and made the first defense of the WBC crown he won by beating Brandon Figueroa in his previous appearance, a “Fight of the Year” candidate that took place November 27 in Las Vegas. Fulton defeated Figueroa (22-1-1, 17 KOs) by majority decision in what was a very competitive title unification fight Showtime televised from Park MGM’s Dolby Live.
Roman, meanwhile, failed in his attempt to become a unified 122-pound champion for the second time in his career. The 32-year-old Los Angeles native lost his IBF and WBA belts to Akhmadaliev, who didn’t grant Roman a rematch after he edged Roman by split decision in January 2020 in Miami.
“There’s no excuse, you know,” Roman said. “I think this fight proved who’s the best 122, super bantamweight fighter [in] the division. And Fulton did it tonight, you know? He proved it, and I wish him the best. And go achieve what I couldn’t achieve, be undisputed. I wish you the best. Like I said, this fight showed who’s the best in the division. And it’s Fulton. Fulton was the better man tonight.”
Roman was the mandatory challenger for Fulton’s WBC championship. He also is ranked number one among the WBO’s 122-pound contenders.
Fulton stood his ground at times during the final round and tried to hurt Roman. The champion landed a right hand and then left hook with just over a minute to go in the 12th round, but Roman remained on his feet until the final bell.
“He [was] slowing down, but I felt like the more I kept boxing, the more I just got a little tired of boxing,” Fulton said. “Like, me trying to walk forward to him wasn’t gonna happen all the time. But I definitely seen him slowing down. I wanted to stop him, but I ain’t get that.”
Fulton landed successive left hooks with about 1:20 to go in the 11th round. The champion then turned up the intensity and tried to stop a fatigued Roman, but Roman withstood Fulton’s hardest shots to make it to the final round.
Fulton slipped and spun around after missing wildly with a left hook just after the midway mark of the 10th round. Roman couldn’t capitalize on Fulton’s vulnerability, though, and Fulton quickly regained control of the action.
Fulton drilled Roman with a right hand 1:05 into the ninth round. A three-punch combination connected for Fulton with just over 30 seconds to go in the ninth round.
By then, Fulton clearly had built lead and appeared well on his way to comfortably beating Roman.
Fulton caught Roman with a left hook with just under a minute to go in the eighth round. Another left hook by Fulton land with just under 20 seconds remaining in the eighth round, which Fulton clearly won.
Roman went after Fulton’s body about 30 seconds into the seventh round, but Fulton blocked some of those shots.
With just over a minute to go in the seventh round, a left by Roman seemed to affect Fulton. After spinning into a southpaw stance, Fulton then nailed Roman with a straight left when there were 30 seconds on the clock in the seventh round.
Fulton’s left hook caught Roman with a little more than two minutes on the clock in the sixth round. Just before the sixth round ended, Fulton landed a combination and then slipped several punches from Roman.
Fulton countered Roman with a left hook barely 20 seconds into the fifth round. Another left hook by Fulton connected with just under 1:40 on the clock in the fifth round.
Fulton’s left hook stopped Roman in his tracks with just under a minute to go in the fifth round.
Roman’s right to Fulton’s body made Fulton move away from him about 55 seconds into the fourth round. Fulton drilled Roman with a straight right hand that staggered the challenger with just under 40 seconds remaining in the fourth round.
Roman’s right hand connected about 15 seconds into the third round. A left hook by Fulton landed about 1:15 into the third round.
An overhand right by Fulton landed to the side of Roman’s head with just under 50 seconds to go in the third round. Fulton continued to use his legs during the third round, when Roman tried to attack his body.
Fulton’s left hook connected barely 20 seconds into the second round. Roman landed a left hand as Fulton moved backward with just under 1:40 on the clock in the second round.
Fulton later landed a left hook, but it didn’t connect with full force with about 20 seconds to go in the second round.
A stiff jab by Fulton landed with about a minute to go in a first round that didn’t feature much action. Fulton also landed a counter left hook with just over 20 seconds on the clock in the opening round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.