“Cool Boy Steph” is a fitting moniker, but the undefeated 122-pound contender will also bring Philadelphia toughness into the ring against Arnold Khegai Saturday night on SHOWTIME.
This Saturday, January 25, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Stephen Fulton (17-0, 8 KOs) looks to build on his momentum toward a world title opportunity against Arnold Khegai (16-0-1, 10 KOs) of Lymanske, Ukraine. The bout, a 12-round super bantamweight championship eliminator, kicks off a PBC on SHOWTIME triple-header (6 p.m. PT/ 9 p.m. ET) that includes the return of former world champions Danny Garcia and Jarrett Hurd.
You’ve said that you’re not just a fighter but also an entertainer.
I have to do more, the attention in boxing is narrowly focused on a select few fighters. Guys like me can’t just perform great, we have to perform at our greatest, like an impossible performance to stand out. Other fighters are bigger than me, so you have to give the fans something to remember.
Not just fight-wise, but the walkout. I want to do things on the outside such as commentating and being in movies, and that’s where “Cool Boy Steph” comes in. I gave myself that name. It’s how I carry myself in and out the ring. Actually, I’m cool on the outside but a dog in the ring. I can be a real dog in there.
How will this fight go with Arnold Khegai?
This will be easier than the Avelar fight. I’m getting better day by day. Each time I fight, I get better and better. Khegai went to training camp. Our focus is different, we don’t have to leave the city to focus, especially for a guy like him. I have him down pa., I believe he’s going to be aggressive, and all of that aggressiveness doesn’t work if you’re not smart and don’t have the skill.
Do you expect to dominate as the fight progresses?
Oh, of course. I warm up, I still be warming up in those early rounds. I’m just getting started. It’s like an oven, you’ve got to warm it up before you can start cooking. I’m a later rounds type of a guy but I can get in there early and do what I’m supposed to do.
Being from Philadelphia, what would you say makes a Philly fighter?
We have that mental toughness, and not just the mental toughness but the intelligence. We don't get enough credit for our intelligence, but It’s where we come from that you have to be tough. You can’t really mention boxing without talking about Philadelphia.
Do you have a favorite fighter from your hometown?
I don't really have a favorite fighter from Philadelphia, but myself. If I had a favorite, I would have to look at not just what they’ve done in the sport, but what they did for their people.
I don't just look at he was a nice fighter, what have you done and what have you given back to the community? What have you done for the kids? Who have you helped become successful besides yourself? Then I’d have a favorite. None of those guys have done that in my eyes.
“ You’ve got a belt? I want to fight you. I don’t think none of them can beat me. ” Undefeated Super Bantamweight Contender - Stephen Fulton
The great Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson said you’ve got everything it takes to be a champion. What do you think of that?
He worked against me in the Avelar fight, so that man has seen what I can do. Not just as far as my fighting but my mindset that I have as well. He was a slick, sharp fighter. When you see another slick, sharp fighter, it brings you back to the times when you were like that.
What fights do you want should you win Saturday?
The belts. That’s it, those other belts. That’s the only fights I want, that’s the only fights that can really get me to where I need to be as far as the fans and the critics.
What do you think of a showdown with Brandon Figueroa?
Brandon don’t want to fight me. He’s young. They want to make as much money as possible, you know, duck me and go around. But if he wants those belts, he won’t be able to do anything but go through me.
We want to fight! The fight can easily be made, it’s up to him! These guys were calling me out early in my career, now what’s up? Now it makes money—he has that WBA—now it makes sense, so let’s do it. He don’t want to do it.
How would it go with Emanuel Navarrete?
I would beat him. A lot of guys are scared of him. He’s a big guy, but I’m big too, one of the biggest in the weight class. I want all of these guys. I don’t really think much of him, he’s just regular Mexican style, I don’t really see the skill with him. I believe I would break him down.
Are there any other big fights other than those?
I want to fight Danny Roman and Rey Vargas. You’ve got a belt? I want to fight you. I don’t think none of them can beat me. The fans would probably say otherwise cause they’ve seen them on TV. That’s why January 25th I guarantee I’ll change everyone’s mind.
I love when I’m doubted, that’s when I fight even better. I done fought seven undefeated fighters in my 18 fights and I’m still doubted.
Aren’t some of those fights hard to make happen?
I hear guys say oh I want to fight this person; I want to fight that person. Once they get that belt it gets different. They go back on their word, and that’s not how I am. I want to be undisputed. It’s never been done in this division and I’m here to do it.
Where do you see yourself by the end of 2020?
Probably two- or three-time world champion, unified. It’s my job to make these guys get in the ring. Listen, I understand y’all want to hold these belts, but if you guys really want to feed your families, make it happen. Big money will be involved.
Y’all claim you want to feed your families; show them you want to do it then. With no risk, there’s no reward, and if you claim you’re the best, then show us you’re the best. You’ve got the belts, right? You gotta show not just yourself, but the fans that you’re the best. Mike Tyson said it best: These guys are just businessman now.
For a closer look at Stephen Fulton, check out his fighter page.