Super middleweight Darius Fulghum approaches every fight with the same intensity, giving each one meticulous mental preparation, and the nursing graduate hopes that disciplined mindset will propel him into the top 10 of one of the major sanctioning bodies if he defeats Ronald Ellis.

Fulghum is set to meet Ellis on Thursday night at the Fantasy Springs Resort in Indio, California, in a 10-round main event, broadcast on DAZN and promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, headlining a Golden Boy card for the first time.

Fulghum (11-0, 10 KOs), 27, of Houston, seemed destined for the 2020 U.S. Olympic team, but COVID-19 derailed those plans. Now, entering his fourth year as a professional, Fulghum faces his toughest challenge yet in the 34-year-old Ellis (18-4-2, 12 KOs). Despite his relative inexperience as a professional, Fulghum approaches boxing with a veteran’s mindset.

Fulghum’s immediate goal, besides victory, is to earn a world ranking before gradually climbing into title contention.

“My short-term goal is to be in the top 10 of one of the sanctioned bodies,” Fulghum said. “I’m hoping I can be in a position to do that after this fight.

“Like I said, super middleweight, I think, is going to open up soon. Who knows? I don’t know how much longer Canelo [Alvarez] has, but I feel like these belts are going to be open for the taking. My short-term goal is really just to put myself in a position to snag one when they do.”

Fulghum isn’t changing anything in his training as he prepares for the fight. He continues to train with Darnell Pierce in Texas ahead of his showcase opportunity.

“My debut at that point in time was the most important fight of my career,” Fulghum said. “Same for every single fight after that, up until that point. So I can’t treat any fight, in my opinion, any different. I have to train every fight like I’m fighting Canelo, like I’m fighting the best in the world.”

Fulghum has paused a promising career as a registered nurse to pursue boxing, aiming to inspire others along the way. Some might think that facing a fighter like Ellis with double the experience is too ambitious, but Fulghum disagrees.

“So the question is if I’m moving fast – I don’t think so,” Fulghum said. “I’ve been blessed throughout my whole career with things just lining up perfectly for me where I need to be. I’m glad people see this as a tough test. So when I get past this hurdle, this obstacle, I can hopefully emerge as a new guy in the 168 division.”

Fulghum, who goes by DFG for “Destined For Greatness,” sets high goals for his boxing career.

“I really want to be a legend in the game,” Fulghum said. “I’m promoted by two legends in the game – Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins – and to have a career similar to theirs, where they accomplished so much and are always going to be remembered, I want to be in the same position.”

Ellis, Fulghum’s opponent, is a tough veteran currently on a three-fight losing streak. Ellis was knocked out in the sixth round by Erik Bazinyan in October and hasn’t fought since. His previous defeats came to Christian Mbilli and David Benavidez. Before those losses, he upset Matvey Korobov and won a majority decision over Immanuwel Aleem.

“He’s a durable guy,” Fulghum said. “He’s been there with some great names in the division and gave them a durable test. I expect him to do no less and do the same for me. But like I said, I look at him as just a guy in my way.”

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