Angelo Leo felt exhausted by the sixth round of his WBO junior featherweight title defense against Stephen Fulton.
Philadelphia’s Fulton was already in the process of building a sizable lead on the scorecards and Leo didn’t have the energy or an alternate game plan to change anything during their 12-rounder January 23 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The skillful Fulton defeated him by huge margins (119-109, 119-109, 118-110) to take the 122-pound championship Leo won just five months earlier, when he out-pointed Tramaine Williams, an ill Fulton’s late replacement.
Albuquerque’s Leo (20-1, 9 KOs), who is promoted by Floyd Mayweather’s company, will return to the ring Saturday night. The former champion is scheduled to meet Mexico’s Aaron Alameda (25-1, 13 KOs) in a 10-round, 122-pound bout Showtime will televise as part of the Jermall Charlo-Juan Macias Montiel undercard from Toyota Center in Houston.
“It was a tough pill to swallow for sure,” Leo told BoxingScene.com. “You know, getting that first loss, I was down for the first few weeks. I was down and out, but as time went on and my head cleared and all that, you know, that hunger for boxing was in me, to get back into the ring, get back into training. I got back into training, I felt good and I started sparring. I started feeling a lot better about myself, my confidence was up, but I took that loss pretty hard. I’m not gonna lie – I took it pretty hard. And I definitely have a chip on my shoulder for this next one, to get back on that winning track.”
Alameda also suffered his first professional loss in his last fight. Former WBC super bantamweight champion Luis Nery (31-1, 24 KOs) beat Alameda by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder September 26 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The 27-year-old Leo hopes to defeat Alameda more convincingly than Mexico’s Nery, who won by scores of 118-110, 116-112 and 115-113.
“It would prove to people I’m still a threat in the 122 division,” Leo said, “if I go out there and impressively beat Alameda through either a stoppage or a KO. It would mean a lot.”
Nery is by far the most accomplished, dangerous opponent Alameda has faced in 26 professional fights. Leo feels Alameda handled his significant step up in class reasonably well.
“He’s a tough competitor,” Leo said. “He brings it. He’s no pushover, for sure. He’s a boxer. He likes to use his jab a lot. He’s a typical southpaw, really. He likes to use that left uppercut when you come in. It’s just all about, you know, controlling the distance and working that body, fight the way I fight.”
Leo contracted COVID-19 late last year, which caused his fight with Fulton (19-0, 8 KOs) to be pushed back slightly more than a month. Whereas Fulton took more than enough time to fully recover from COVID-19 before his title fight with Leo was rescheduled, Leo felt some burning in his lungs once he started running again to prepare for their January 23 bout.
“At the time, I thought that was enough time [to recover],” Leo said. “I didn’t really feel the effects of COVID. I didn’t wanna believe that I had COVID, but I tested positive for it and I had it. And you could visibly see that I was getting gassed. I was gassed out by the sixth round. But it is what it is. I just wanna show the world what I’ve got in this next fight, just show that I’m still a top dog in the 122 division.”
Showtime will air the Leo-Alameda match as the opener of its tripleheader (9 p.m. EDT; 6 p.m. PDT).
In the premium cable network’s subsequent bout, lightweights from Mexico City, Isaac Cruz (21-1-1, 15 KOs) and Francisco Vargas (27-2-2, 19 KOs), will square off in a 10-rounder. Houston’s Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) will make an optional defense of his WBC middleweight title against Mexico’s Montiel (22-4-2, 22 KOs) in the 12-round main event.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.