Philadelphia has a rich boxing history, but something is missing that Bernard Hopkins, Joe Frazier, and Danny Garcia once brought. No championship belts are currently held by fighters from Philly.
Stephen Fulton Jr. has a chance to change that.
Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs) will headline Showtime Boxing’s return on Aug. 1, according to the new schedule released Wednesday. He’ll fight Angelo Leo (19-0, 9 KOs) for the vacant WBO junior-featherweight world championship (122 pounds) at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
“It means everything to me,” Fulton said. “I feel like I always hold Philly on my back, no matter what.”
After Fulton defeated Arnold Khegai on Jan. 25 -- he said Khegai was his “toughest opponent” -- he immediately shifted his attention to becoming an undisputed champion. Leo is the next fighter he’ll have to beat to reach that goal.
“I just want to beat him, get past him ... which I will do,” Fulton said. “I’m going to beat him because he hasn’t been tested.”
Fulton is confident and exudes the swagger of previous Philly greats. He prides himself on beating undefeated fighters, which he has done seven times. If he wants to stay unbeaten, he will have to make it eight.
Fulton and Leo joined a Zoom conference with reporters Wednesday afternoon, and Fulton didn’t hold his tongue about his plans. Along with predicting a victory, Fulton said his skill and speed make him the better all-around fighter.
Leo is more laid-back, but even though he’s a man of few words, he made his own strong statement, which caught Fulton’s attention.
“He can boast about his resume all he wants, but we’re both top five in the world, we’re both undefeated, so it doesn’t really matter when we get in there,” Leo said. “He has beaten undefeated fighters, but if you look between the lines, he’s been rocked, he’s been dropped in all of those fights. He’s not untouchable.”
Fulton shook his head and smirked as he leaned forward in his seat after hearing Leo’s words. He acknowledged what Leo pointed out, but Fulton views those experiences as an advantage.
“Of course I’ve been down before, of course I’ve been rocked before, and look where I’m at,” Fulton said. “I’m still standing. I’m still here”
Showtime Boxing’s return includes nine live events and 20-plus fights, which will feature 18 undefeated fighters. One of those undefeated boxers is Philly’s Jaron “Boots” Ennis.
Ennis will fight in the co-feature matchup on the Sept. 19 card, which will have Erickson Lubin and Terrell Gausha in the main event. Ennis’ opponent has yet to be named.
One reason for the holdup is Ennis’ growing profile. He’s a talented fighter who is near pay-per-view quality. Since his upcoming fight won’t be the main event, it’s harder to find an opponent who feels the risk is worth the reward.
“A lot of the top-tier fighters that are on this schedule have gone through the same thing,” Showtime sports executive Stephen Espinoza said. “There comes a point when it gets tougher and tougher to get them fights. He’s a tough, tough opponent.”