Stephen Fulton has his sights set on the undisputed 122-pound championship.
He’ll continue his quest toward a meeting with fellow two-belt champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev with a fight vs. Danny Roman on Saturday In Minneapolis (9 p.m. ET, Showtime).
A pair of victories for Fulton, who fights out of Philadelphia, could land him the sort of matchup that defines legacies.
Japanese star Naoya Inoue, ESPN’s No. 2 pound-for-pound boxer, meets Nonito Donaire on Tuesday (main event at 8 a.m. ET on ESPN+) for three 118-pound titles, and Fulton feels a matchup with “The Monster” makes perfect sense.
“I don’t think it’s far-fetched; I believe it’s realistic if [Inoue] comes up in time [before I move to 126 pounds],” Fulton, 27, told ESPN. “I don’t shy away from big fights. A lot of people wanna see [me vs. Inoue]; a lot of people wanna talk about that as well.
“Had I been more known like Inoue,” he added, “I’d be on that [pound-for-pound] list.”
Of course, much has to happen before the bout can even come close to fruition.
First, Fulton must turn back the challenge of Roman (29-3-1, 10 KOs), who is a 4-1 underdog, per Caesars Sportsbook, but that’s only because of how highly regarded Fulton is. The 32-year-old from Los Angeles made four defenses of his 122-pound title before he dropped a split decision to Akhmadliev in a 2020 unification.
Roman is a volume puncher, and Fulton, too, has unloaded more than 1,000 punches in a single fight. He did so in his title-winning effort against Angelo Leo in January 2021 and then delivered another thrilling performance in a split-decision victory over Brandon Figueroa in November.
“I purposely will go in there and want to be in those types of fights because those guys had said that I don’t have that in me, but I don’t have anything to prove at this point,” said Fulton, ESPN’s No. 1 junior featherweight. ” … I have to save some of me for myself; I was in two [grueling fights] back to back.”
He could be saving himself for perhaps his toughest test to date, a potential clash with Akhmadaliev later this year for all four junior featherweight belts. The Uzbek must first defeat Ronny Rios in a rematch on June 25.
If Fulton does land the Akhmadaliev fight, he plans to move up four pounds to featherweight afterward unless a bout with Inoue can be made.