The names and accompanying ring records on his résumé may not jump off the page like they do for his next opponent but Angelo Leo is comfortable with the path that has led him to this point.
Awaiting the unbeaten 122-pound titlist this weekend is a stiff challenge from Philadelphia’s Stephen Fulton (18-0, 8KOs), who faces his eighth undefeated fighter entering his first title fight this weekend. Despite playing the role of challenger, it’s Fulton who enters this ring as the betting favorite for this Saturday’s Showtime main event from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
It’s nothing to which the defending champ takes offense; in fact, he understands the logic behind it. What he doesn’t get is why his own path hasn’t yet been recognized.
“I’ve had some very tough fights in my career,” Leo told BoxingScene.com ahead of his first title defense. “I know (Fulton) has fought a lot of undefeated fighters and people are talking about that. But the guys I fought, they were top contenders, former world champions. They were all around good fighters.
“I think a lot of people overlook that. I am coming in with everything and I want to prove to everyone that I am a world champion for a reason.”
Leo (20-0, 9KOs) had to endure a last-minute opponent switch for his first career title shot, facing unbeaten southpaw Tramaine Williams (19-0, 6KOs at the time) on three days’ notice. Williams was a late switch for Fulton, who tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw from their Showtime headliner last August in this very venue.
Albuquerque’s Leo claimed a convincing 12-round decision to join rising superstar Gervonta 'Tank' Davis (24-0, 23KOs) as the second fighter under the Mayweather Promotions banner to hold a major title. The win was the second consecutive strong showing versus elevated competition for the 26-year old junior featherweight, who earned his place on that stage with a breakout win in his previous fight. Leo became a mandatory challenger after stopping former interim titlist Cesar Juarez inside of 11 rounds last December in Atlanta, Georgia.
“When I fought Cesar Juarez, that was my chance to let everyone know who I am,” notes Leo. “I believe that was my coming out party. It was a big step up for me. I passed it with flying colors, just like I did in my last fight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox