Brandon Figueroa seemed to stare almost in disbelief. In a razor-close bout, Figueroa thought he had won the WBC and WBO junior featherweight unification title fight over Stephen Fulton Jr. in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Except one thing: Figueroa lost.
Fulton won a majority decision to take the two belts, with judges Tim Cheatham and Dave Moretti scoring the fight 116-112 for Fulton and David Sutherland having it as a 114-114 draw.
"This was a war," Fulton said in a postfight interview on Showtime. And one that didn't end when the scores were announced.
In the middle of Fulton's interview with Jim Gray, Figueroa interrupted, still baffled at what the judges had called.
"You really think you won the fight?" Figueroa asked Fulton.
"It was a close fight," Fulton said.
The two went back-and-forth verbally for a couple of minutes, with Figueroa saying he hurt Fulton "five or six times" and Fulton continually acknowledging how close of a fight it was. Perhaps it was a bit of shock for Figueroa, who suffered his first professional defeat and his first loss since 2014, when Shakur Stevenson beat him in the USA Youth National Championships as an amateur.
Fulton offered a potential rematch during the verbal fracas with Figueroa saying immediately he would be open to it. After they were separated, Figueroa wouldn't completely commit to the rematch, though, saying he was still planning on moving up to 126 pounds while also calling the decision "the biggest robbery of the year."
In a fight with constant action, both boxers worked well on the inside, often seemingly taking turns in control -- sometimes within the same round. It soon became a fight between Figueroa's intense volume versus Fulton's better efficiency.
Figueroa (22-1-1, 17 KO), 24, threw over 1,000 punches in the fight -- including at least 102 punches per round in four of the last five. Those also were some of his most efficient rounds, landing at least 31.7% of his punches in those four 100-plus-punch periods.
Fulton (20-0, 8 KO), 27, never threw more than 81 punches in a round but landed over 31% of his punches in all but one round -- the 11th, when he only landed 21.4%. In three rounds, he landed more than 40% of his attempts; for the fight, he landed 37.1% of his punches (269-of-726). He also landed an astronomical amount of his power punches, 44%, which might have been the difference in the fight.
"I was catching him between the shots he was throwing," Fulton said.
This came after two early rounds during which referee Russell Mora had to continually separate the fighters when Fulton appeared to be holding and Figueroa needed to be warned about hitting Fulton in the back of the head. By the third round, both Fulton and Figueroa had found more of a rhythm as the warnings and breakups from Mora lessened greatly.
From there, it became an incredibly close fight, with Figueroa landing 314 punches on Fulton, the most he has been hit in his career. After the second round, each fighter landed more than 20 punches per round in each round except the 11th.
This now leaves two champions at junior featherweight: Fulton and Murodjon Akhmadaliev, who holds the IBF and WBA titles.
It was the first majority decision win for Fulton since Dec. 8, 2017, when he scored a majority decision in an eight-round fight over Adam Lopez. It was Fulton's third straight fight won by decision and his second successful defense of the WBO title.