Stephen Fulton Jr. Edges Brandon Figueroa
To Unify Super Bantamweight World Titles
Photos: Esther Lin - SHOWTIME
In a non-stop action fight between undefeated super
bantamweight world champions, Stephen Fulton Jr. unified
WBO and WBC titles with a majority decision victory over
Brandon Figueroa live on SHOWTIME Saturday night in a
Premier Boxing Champions event from Dolby Live at Park
MGM in Las Vegas.
This showdown was set up earlier this year with each
fighter capturing a world title by defeating an
undefeated opponent, as Fulton (20-0, 8 KOs) bested
Angelo Leo in January to capture the WBO belt, while
Figueroa (22-1-1, 17 KOs) stopped Luis Nery in May to
earn his WBC title. The two champions put on a memorable
display, combining to throw over 1,700 punches across 12
rounds according to CompuBox.
"I was catching him in between every shot he was
throwing,” said Fulton. “He was making it sloppy and
"I hurt him like five or six times,” said Figueroa. “I
put the pressure on for the whole 12 rounds, landed the
cleaner shots and hurt him. I thought I only lost four
rounds at the most.”
In a surefire “Fight of the Year” contender, it was
Figueroa’s activity (1,060 punches thrown) against
Fulton’s accuracy (37% connect rate) squaring off
throughout a narrow fight in which neither man was able
to sustain momentum for long. In rounds four through
seven, the fighters were separated by just two punches
landed (103 to 101 for Figueroa).
"I was landing a lot of clean shots,” said Fulton. “He
was throwing wild shots that the fans were enjoying, but
he was hitting my arms a lot.”
In a memorable sixth frame, each fighter landed nothing
but power shots with Figueroa connecting on 36 to
Fulton’s 34. In a frantic 10th round, Figueroa looked to
have Fulton hurt after numerous flurries of power
punches. However, Fulton was able to recover in the
final two rounds to win both the 11th and 12th on two
That final push helped Fulton hold on with the score of
116-112 from two judges overruling a 114-114 card. After
the fight, both fighters believed they had done enough
to win and were open to battling again in a rematch.
"It was an amazing experience,” said Fulton. “The judges
made their decision and we can run it back."
"It was the robbery of the year,” said Figueroa. “The
fans who watched this live know who won. I always come
to fight and I did that all night."
In the co-main event, top super bantamweight contender
Ra’eese Aleem (19-0, 12 KOs) remained unbeaten with a
majority decision over Mexico’s Eduardo Baez (20-2-2, 7
KOs) after 10 rounds of action.
"I'm coming off a long lay-off so I was a little bit
rusty,” said Aleem. “I wanted to stop him, but he kept
bringing it. I did what I had to do.”
Aleem showed off his versatile attack from the outset,
flashing combinations combined with consistent activity
that would carry him throughout the 10 rounds. Baez
proved to be a sturdy challenge, and despite loading up
for big right hands throughout the fight, he was able to
land and keep Aleem from overwhelming him.
Aleem switched between southpaw and orthodox stances
during the action to varying success, and overall held a
232 to 111 advantage in punches landed. Of those 232,
Aleem connected on 90 body shots that helped him keep
Baez at bay.
"I'm a dog,” said Aleem. “I grinded it out. I turned
southpaw and got caught with some shots, but I hung in
there. I can hang with anyone. It doesn't matter who
steps in there against me, I'm going to win."
Baez fought valiantly through a cut on his forehead that
opened up in the middle rounds due to an accidental
headbutt. Aleem appeared to have Baez hurt in the ninth
round with a counter right hand from the southpaw
stance, but ended up holding on through round 10 to win
the decision with scores of 98-92, 96-94 and 95-95.
"He was a tough Mexican fighter, but I got the job
done,” said Aleem. “I want the winner of the main event.
They can run but they can't hide.”
Unbeaten bantamweight contender Gary Antonio Russell
(19-0, 12 KOs) earned a close majority decision win by
edging Mexico’s Alexandro Santiago (24-3-5, 13 KOs) in
an action-packed fight that kicked off the telecast.
"I thought I won the fight and I thought I clearly out
boxed him,” said Russell. “He was tough and tried to be
rugged and aggressive. I had the headbutts from my last
fight in the back of my mind, so I tried to keep it
clean and get my rounds in.”
In a back-and-forth fight, Russell seemed to take the
early lead with an effective jab and speed advantage
that allowed him to land combinations from the southpaw
stance. Russell out landed Santiago in each round across
the first half of the fight, before Santiago began to
turn the tide.
"It was a very close fight today,” said Santiago. "I
have to press more to get the judges to see the fight in
my favor. I saw in the beginning rounds that he was very
repetitive. If I was more aggressive in the early
rounds, I could have pulled off the win."
"He was rough and he didn't want to keep it clean, so I
had to fight on the inside,” said Russell. “He's a
shorter fighter so I knew he was going to try his best
to get on the inside against me.”
Throughout the middle rounds Santiago was able to close
the distance and had success to the body, out landing
Russell 51-23 in that department overall. With the
contest in the balance, the final two rounds saw both
men engage in toe-to-toe action looking for a blow to
swing the bout in their favor.
After 10 rounds, Russell earned a narrow decision and
remained unbeaten, with scores of 95-95 and 96-94 twice.
"I feel like I'm ready for the champions,” said Russell.
“I'd love to fight John Riel Casimero for his belt. But
I'll fight any of the champions. People can look at this
and say I'm not ready for the next step. But I know what
I'm capable of."