Stephen Fulton was the only one of the six fighters scheduled to compete on Showtime’s three-bout broadcast Saturday night that didn’t participate in a virtual press conference Wednesday.
He won’t fight Saturday night, either.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that Philadelphia’s Fulton and two members of his team tested positive for COVID-19. Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs) therefore has been removed from Showtime’s main event – a 12-round, 122-pound fight against Albuquerque’s Angelo Leo (19-0, 9 KOs) for the vacant WBO junior featherweight title at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Tramaine Williams (19-0, 6 KOs, 1 NC), who was scheduled to square off against Ra’eese Aleem (16-0, 10 KOs) in the co-feature of Showtime’s tripleheader, has replaced Fulton in the main event. The WBO has agreed to sanction the Leo-Williams fight for its unclaimed 122-pound championship.
Fulton is ranked number one by the WBO in the junior featherweight division. Leo is ranked second, four spots atop the sixth-ranked Williams.
Jonathan Leir, host of The Ring Walk podcast, first reported on Twitter that Fulton tested positive for COVID-19.
Las Vegas’ Aleem will now meet Marcus Bates in a 10-round, 122-pound co-feature immediately before Leo and Williams box. Bates (11-1-1, 8 KOs), of Washington, D.C., will attempt to avenge his lone loss against Aleem, who beat him by unanimous decision in an eight-rounder two years ago in Philadelphia.
“Extensive protocols have been put in place to catch this very possibility and they’ve proven so far to be effective,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “We are supporting Stephen and his team as they self-quarantine off property and we will help with any medical assistance if needed.
“Fortunately, Williams was ready to move into the spot in the main event, which remains a battle of unbeaten young super bantamweights. In addition, Marcus Bates was in excellent shape and answered the call to face Aleem in a title eliminator. He is an aggressive super bantamweight who will make the most of this opportunity. I expect him to be on everyone’s radar after Saturday night.”
Fulton and Leo were supposed to fight for the vacant WBO junior featherweight championship Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete relinquished recently to move up to the featherweight division.
Showtime’s three-fight telecast is set to begin at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT with a 10-round light heavyweight rematch between Houston’s Joseph George (10-0, 6 KOs) and Argentina’s Marcos Escudero (10-1, 9 KOs). George edged Escudero by split decision in their 10-rounder November 15 at WinnaVegas Casino Resort in Sloan, Iowa.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.