Fullmer began his professional career in 1951 and won his first 29 fights, 19 by knockout. His manager during many years of his career was his mentor, Marv Jenson, who encouraged many youth in West Jordan, Utah, to enter boxing as amateurs.
Fullmer won the world middleweight championship on January 2, 1957, when he upset the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson by soundly winning a unanimous 15-round decision. On May 1, 1957 they fought a rematch. The fight began as expected, with Fullmer using his strength and awkwardness to bull into Robinson and really force him onto his heels. In the fifth round Robinson, while backing up, lashed out with what has been called the perfect left hook. It caught Fullmer flush on the chin and knocked him out.
In 1959, the National Boxing Association withdrew its recognition of Robinson as middleweight champion. Fullmer and fellow former middleweight champion Carmen Basilio fought for the vacant NBA title on August 28, 1959, and Fullmer won the crown when he TKOed Basilio in the 14th round. Meanwhile, Robinson was to lose his version of the middleweight championship to Paul Pender.
Fullmer and Pender never met to settle their claims to the middleweight title, and Pender eventually retired. Meanwhile, Fullmer fought and turned back the challenges of many top contenders, such as Basilio, Ellsworth "Spider" Webb, Florentino Fernández, and welterweight champion Benny "Kid" Paret. He narrowly escaped being dethroned when he was held to 15-round draws by Robinson and future titleholder Joey Giardello. The draw against Robinson was widely criticised by almost every ringside observer, who had Robinson winning 11-4 or 10-5 in rounds. In their final meeting, a title bout in 1961, Fullmer beat Robinson by unanimous decision.
Fullmer finally lost the middleweight title to Dick Tiger on October 23, 1962 in a unanimous decision. They fought a rematch on February 23, 1963, which resulted in a draw. Fullmer's attempts to regain the middleweight crown finally ended when he was TKOed in seven rounds by Tiger on August 10, 1963.
Fullmer's final record included 55 wins (24 by KO), 6 losses, and 3 draws.
|55 wins (24 knockouts), 6 defeats (2 knockouts), 3 draws|
|Loss||55-6-3||Dick Tiger||RTD||7 (15), 3:00||1963-08-10||Liberty Stadium, Ibadan||For WBA & vacant WBC World Middleweight Titles|
|Draw||55-5-3||Dick Tiger||PTS||15||1963-02-23||Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada||For WBA World Middleweight Title|
|Loss||55-5-2||Dick Tiger||UD||15||1962-10-23||Candlestick Park, California, California||For inaugural WBA World Middleweight Title|
|Win||55-4-2||Benny Paret||KO||10 (15), 2:30||1961-12-09||Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada||Retained NBA World Middleweight Title|
|Win||54-4-2||Florentino Fernández||SD||15||1961-08-05||Ogden Stadium, Ogden, Utah||Retained NBA World Middleweight Title|
|Win||53-4-2||Sugar Ray Robinson||UD||15||1961-03-04||Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada||Retained NBA World Middleweight Title|
|Draw||52-4-2||Sugar Ray Robinson||PTS||15||1960-12-03||Los Angeles Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California||Retained NBA World Middleweight Title|
|Win||52-4-1||Carmen Basilio||RTD||12 (15)||1960-06-29||Derks Field, Salt Lake City, Utah||Retained NBA World Middleweight Title|
|Draw||51-4-1||Joey Giardello||PTS||15||1960-04-20||Montana St. College Fieldhouse, Bozeman, Montana||Retained NBA World Middleweight Title|
|Win||51-4||Spider Webb||UD||15||1959-12-04||George Nelson Fieldhouse, Logan, Utah||Retained NBA World Middleweight Title|
|Win||50-4||Carmen Basilio||TKO||14 (15), 0:39||1959-08-28||Cow Palace, California, California||Won vacant NBA World Middleweight Title
The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year" (1959)
|Win||49-4||Wilf Greaves||MD||10||1959-02-20||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York|
|Win||48-4||Milo Savage||UD||10||1959-01-09||Freeman Coliseum, San Antonio, Texas|
|Win||47-4||Joe Miceli||KO||2 (10), 0:38||1958-11-10||Fairgrounds Coliseum, Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Win||46-4||Spider Webb||UD||10||1958-09-11||Derks Field, Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Win||45-4||Jim Hegerle||UD||10||1958-07-07||West Jordan Arena, West Jordan, Utah|
|Win||44-4||Milo Savage||UD||10||1958-03-03||Fairgrounds Coliseum, Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Win||43-4||Neal Rivers||MD||10||1957-11-15||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York|
|Win||42-4||Chico Vejar||UD||10||1957-09-04||West Jordan Arena, West Jordan, Utah|
|Win||41-4||Ralph Jones||UD||10||1957-06-07||Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois|
|Loss||40-4||Sugar Ray Robinson||KO||5 (15), 1:27||1957-05-01||Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois||Lost World Middleweight Title|
|Win||40-3||Ernie Durando||UD||10||1957-02-18||Denver Auditorium Arena, Denver, Colorado|
|Win||39-3||Wilf Greaves||UD||10||1957-01-28||Fairgrounds Coliseum, Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Win||38-3||Sugar Ray Robinson||UD||15||1957-01-02||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York||Won World Middleweight Title|
|Win||37-3||Moses Ward||KO||3 (10)||1956-09-22||West Jordan Arena, West Jordan, Utah|
|Win||36-3||Charles Humez||UD||10||1956-05-25||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York|
|Win||35-3||Ralph Jones||UD||10||1956-04-20||Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio|
|Win||34-3||Gil Turner||SD||10||1956-02-17||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York|
|Win||33-3||Rocky Castellani||SD||10||1956-01-04||Cleveland Arena, Cleveland, Ohio|
|Loss||32-3||Eduardo Lausse||UD||10||1955-11-25||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York|
|Loss||32-2||Bobby Boyd||UD||10||1955-11-25||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York|
|Win||32-1||Al Andrews||UD||10||1955-09-12||Ogden Stadium, Ogden, Utah|
|Win||31-1||Del Flanagan||UD||10||1955-07-26||Butte Civic Center, Butte, Montana|
|Win||30-1||Gil Turner||PTS||10||1955-06-20||West Jordan Park, West Jordan, Utah|
|Loss||29-1||Gil Turner||UD||10||1955-04-04||Eastern Parkway Arena, Brooklyn, New York|
|Win||29-0||Govan Small||PTS||10||1955-03-21||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Win||28-0||Paul Pender||UD||10||1955-02-14||Eastern Parkway Arena, Brooklyn, New York|
|Win||27-0||Marcel Assire||UD||10||1955-01-31||Eastern Parkway Arena, Brooklyn, New York|
|Win||26-0||Peter Mueller||UD||10||1954-11-15||Eastern Parkway Arena, Brooklyn, New York|
|Win||25-0||Jackie LaBua||UD||10||1954-11-15||Eastern Parkway Arena, Brooklyn, New York|
|Win||24-0||Dick Wolfe||KO||4 (10), 1:27||1954-08-16||West Jordan Park, West Jordan, Utah|
|Win||23-0||Reno Abellira||UD||10||1954-07-29||West Jordan Arena, West Jordan, Utah|
|Win||22-0||Govan Small||PTS||10||1954-07-12||West Jordan Arena, West Jordan, Utah|
|Win||21-0||Rio Rico||PTS||10||1954-07-12||Fairgrounds Coliseum, Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Win||20-0||Andy Anderson||RTD||7 (10)||1954-05-17||Fairgrounds Coliseum, Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Win||19-0||Charley Cato||KO||1 (10), 1:43||1954-04-26||Fairgrounds Coliseum, Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Win||18-0||Kid Leon||KO||1||1954-02-06||West Jordan High School, West Jordan, Utah|
|Win||17-0||Armando Cotero||UD||6||1952-09-20||Legion Stadium, Hollywood, California|
|Win||16-0||Mickey Rhodes||KO||6||1952-08-08||Ogden Stadium, Ogden, Utah|
|Win||15-0||Baby Ray||KO||1||1951-10-17||Vernal, Utah|
|Win||14-0||Rudy Zadell||PTS||6||1951-10-10||Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania|
|Win||13-0||Gary Hanley||KO||1||1951-10-03||West Jordan, Utah|
|Win||12-0||Garth Panter||MD||10||1951-09-25||Fairgrounds Coliseum, Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Win||11-0||Sam Healy||KO||4||1951-09-14||Uintah High School Gym, Vernal, Utah|
|Win||10-0||Charley Cato||KO||4 (10)||1951-09-07||West Jordan, Utah|
|Win||9-0||Buddy Sloan||KO||2||1951-08-25||Hurricane, Utah|
Fullmer graduated from Jordan High School and worked at Kennecott Copper Mine for several years, he also served in the Korean War. He married Dolores Holt on October 13, 1955 in the Salt Lake Temple. They raised 2 daughters and 2 sons.
Fullmer had two younger brothers who boxed: Don Fullmer (February 21, 1939 - January 28, 2012), who twice challenged for the World Middleweight Title, and Jay Fullmer (March 9, 1937 - April 22, 2015), who boxed as a lightweight.
Fullmer was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), and his living the tenets of his religion, especially the Word of Wisdom, was heavily covered in the press. It was also frequently mentioned that he was a father and that he paid tithing on his boxing winnings.
Fullmer appeared in a cameo role in the 1968 film The Devil's Brigade as a Montana bartender.
Fullmer is featured on the cover of the album Greatest Hits by Alice in Chains.
Sugar Ray Robinson
|World Middleweight Champion
2 January 1957– 1 May 1957
Sugar Ray Robinson
Sugar Ray Robinson
|NBA World Middleweight Champion
Later WBA Title
28 August 1959– 23 October 1962