Unbeaten featherweight prospect from Philly recently flew across the pond for the first time to help prepare former two-division titleholder Carl Frampton for his April 21 clash against four-division title-winner Nonito Donaire.
Stephen Fulton’s first of a projected 21 days of sparring with two-division world champion Carl Frampton began yesterday with a spirited session at the VIP Boxing Gym in Manchester, England.
“We sparred six rounds today. Carl’s great speed, power and head movement were on point,” said Fulton, a 23-year-old, 126-pound prospect born and raised in boxing-rich Philadelphia—who is helping Frampton prepare for his April 21 clash against four-division title-winner Nonito Donaire.
“All of that followed great footwork and body work. I love the body work, and I can definitely learn a lot from him being out here.”
After a nearly seven-hour flight, Fulton (12-0, 5 KOs) had little time to adjust to the jet lag from his inaugural trip to the United Kingdom before it was time to go to work.
“I arrived Sunday morning at around 7 or 8 a.m. over here, which was like 3 or 4 a.m. back home,” said Fulton. “My first time meeting Carl, he’s a nice, friendly guy and made me feel comfortable. In the ring, he’s very professional, and they definitely like the work ethic that I bring.”
Frampton made that clear from a tweet on Monday, touting Fulton’s “Great work,” and calling him, “talented and slick,” in addition to posting a photo of the fighters, arms around each other.
Trained by Hamza Muhammad out of the James Shuler Boxing Gym in West Philadelphia, Fulton learned of Frampton’s interest through a call in February from Stephen Edwards, Philadelphia-based trainer of once-beaten 154-pound title challenger Julian Williams.
“Stephen called my trainer and told him Carl Frampton would like me to come out to his camp. I was a little surprised. Carl and I texted back and forth, and he left me a ‘Thumbs Up’ emoji saying he was looking forward to me coming out here,” said Fulton.
“I think maybe they saw my style and skillset—my movement, footwork, speed, punch-output and shot selection. Plus, they’re fighting Nonito Donaire, who bares some similarities to me. Like Nonito has a nice left hook, and so do I.”
A 29-year-old native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Frampton (24-1, 13 KOs) was named the PBC’s 2016 Fighter Of the Year after winning world titles in two weight divisions against a pair of undefeated champions.
“The Jackal” won a 122-pound unification by split-decision over Scott Quigg in February of that year followed by a majority decision that dethroned 126-pound champion Leo Santa Cruz in July.
After losing his rematch with Santa Cruz by majority decision in July 2016, Frampton won his last fight by unanimous decision over Horatio Garcia in November.
“By observing and watching, I’m definitely going to pick up and learn a lot of things about what it takes to be a champion. I’m not far from being there. That’s why I’m here,” said Fulton.
“I know it’s going to be a hard, tough camp, and I’m looking forward to experiencing his level of pressure and power in addition to being taught. Other sparring partners will be here, but until then, I think I can handle myself.”
“ People can label me a prospect if they want to, but Frampton is back on the road to regaining a title, sees something in me and knows the level that I’m on. ” Unbeaten Featherweight Prospect Stephen Fulton
Fulton endured crime and violence that cost many friends their lives. Stephen Sr. missed the first 10 years of his son’s life due to a jail sentence, but returned to introduce “Scooter” to boxing, likely saving his life.
Being fatherless during a turbulent childhood early on has made Fulton the parent and fighter he has become to his 1-year-old son, Abdul Muqtadir, which means, “The Powerful One.”
“Muqtadir started day care, and the first day, he cried, not wanting me to leave,” said Fulton. “I had to give him a little talk, but deep down, I didn’t want to leave him, so it was probably rougher on me than it was him. I’m very overprotective of my son.”
Fulton has relocated to Northeast from Southwest Philadelphia, where last June he was sitting with his girlfriend, Tiffany Jubilee, and then-eight-month-old son, Muqtadir, in their apartment when they heard gunshots outside.
Outside was a dead man, blood pouring from his head, violence representing another day in the neighborhood. Fulton moved two weeks later following an incident that left bullet holes in the building’s walls.
“I had to protect my family,” Fulton said. “That, right there let me know that I had to get out of there. I’m healthy, I have my son, I’m active, and I’ve learned a lot as a professional fighter.”
As an amateur, Fulton earned titles in the Silver and Golden Gloves, allowing him to form bonds with the likes of 130-pound former champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis and 154-pound contender Erickson Lubin, both southpaws.
Fulton has similarly proven throughout his early rise up the 126-pound ranks to have the skills to not only beat, but dominate other rising prospects.
“Scooter’s” most recent victories over southpaw Luis Rosario (8-0, 7 KOs) by UD in April and Adam Lopez (9-0, 3 KOs) by MD in December were against the fourth and fifth unbeaten fighters he’s faced in his past six bouts.
“I’ve beaten five undefeated fighters, the past two in televised fights, so the level opposition I’ve beaten speaks for itself,” Fulton said. “People can label me a prospect if they want to, but Frampton is back on the road to regaining a title, sees something in me and knows the level that I’m on.”
“After I complete this camp, I want to fight in March or April, my skills will be even more improved. I’m very smart, and that’s going to really show in the way I’m gonna be getting the job done. I know my time will come to fight for a title, sooner or later, so I’m not gonna rush it.”
For a closer look at Stephen Fulton, check out his fighter page.
- Stephen Fulton
- Carl Frampton