Unbeaten featherweight prospect from Philly credits sparring sessions with two-division titleholder Carl Frampton for recent improvements.
Stephen Fulton expects to be at the top of his game for his bout against German Meraz this Sunday night on the undercard of a PBC on FS1 show (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) at Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, California.. It will be the Philadelphia native’s second fight since serving as the primary sparring partner for Carl Frampton—the two-division champion from Northern Ireland.
Fulton sparred 50 rounds with Frampton at the VIP Boxing Gym in Manchester, England to help Frampton prepare for his unanimous decision over Nonito Donaire for the WBO’s 126-pound interim crown in April.
“We sparred six rounds three times during the first week, eight rounds three times the second week, and about the same three during the third week,” Fulton said. “Going over there changed me as a fighter as far as my overall style and skillset—my movement, footwork, speed, punch-output, punching power and shot selection have all improved.”
Fulton (13-0, 6 KOs) weighed 122¾ for his ninth-round stoppage of Jesus Ahumada in June.
The 24-year-old Fulton anticipates a similar performance during his 10-rounder against the 32-year-old Meraz (61-49-2).
“I feel like we learned from each other, taking it up a notch in our last fights,” said Fulton, who learned of Frampton’s interest through a call in February from Stephen Edwards, the Philadelphia-based trainer of once-beaten 154-pound title challenger Julian Williams.
“I’ve seen that in Carl’s past two fights, and he’s looked really good. He’s always had great movement, but his stamina and focus seemed more on point. With Carl being from the United Kingdom, and me from the United States, we definitely learned from each other’s styles and took it into our own.”
The 31-year-old Frampton tweeted a photo of himself and Fulton with their arms around each other and crediting “Cool Boy Steph” for his “great work, talent and slickness” in advance of scoring a body shot knockdown in the eighth of a ninth-round TKO of previously undefeated 2012 Olympic team captain Luke Jackson (16-1, 7 KOs) in his native Belfast in August.
Frampton’s next match is a unification bout against IBF titleholder Josh Warrington (27-0, 6 KOs) on Dec. 22.
“ I genuinely think Stephen has the potential to be a world champion and he’s a very nice kid as well. ” Two-Division World Champ Carl Frampton
“The sparring with Stephen Fulton was very beneficial. I think he was very similar to Donaire, but fresher, younger and a little bit stronger than Donaire. Stephen had a similar style, but with his strength and his weight, that made it more difficult, which is what I need for my preparation,” Frampton said.
“Stephen’s a fighter with enormous talent who I think will go a very long way. I genuinely think Stephen has the potential to be a world champion and he’s a very nice kid as well. The difference between Stephen and other sparring partners we’ve had over here before is that he wanted to learn and improve. We had a great relationship and he was in the gym every day, training and always asking questions. Even when there was no one sparring, he was training and working on things. I’m very impressed with his potential to be a future champion.”
Fulton has taken what he’s learned from Frampton into the James Shuler Boxing Gym in West Philadelphia, where he is trained by Hamza Muhammad.
“My first time meeting Carl, he was a nice, friendly guy and made me feel comfortable. Their entire camp was very organized, and they knew what they wanted to do. In the ring, he’s very professional, and during the great workouts and sparring, they definitely liked the work ethic that I bring. A couple of times before our last fights, I hit him up and he reached out to me, so we’re still in touch,” said Fulton.
“After this fight, hopefully, in 2019 or 2020, I’ll be looking at fighting for a 122-pound world championship. As for my next fight, I’m definitely better and stronger as far as sitting down on my punches and knowing how to set up and break down my opponents for the knockout. I won't go looking for the knockout, but if I do what I expect to do, I should get one.”
For a closer look at Stephen Fulton, check out his fighter page.