Victor Pasillas didn’t spend very long celebrating his last win, the biggest of his career to date.
Instead came immediate planning for ways to outdo his last performance.
The team delivered, as East Los Angeles’ Pasillas (16-0, 9KOs) will face fellow unbeaten junior featherweight Ra’eese Aleem (17-0, 11KOs) in an interim WBA title fight. The bout will serve as the chief support of a Showtime-televised tripleheader airing live this Saturday from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Headlining the show is another fight involving unbeaten 122-pounders as WBO titlist Angelo Leo (20-0, 9KOs) defends versus Philadelphia’s Stephen Fulton (18-0, 8KOs). Many experts, however, have the evening’s second leg of the tripleheader stealing the show.
“I’m excited. I feel like this is a great opportunity to showcase what I’m really made of,” Pasillas told BoxingScene.com. “I’m glad that PBC and TGB are keeping me busy with these undefeated fighters.
“After a while, once you start breaking through that pro style, you want that same challenge that you had in the amateur world. I’m just glad I’m able to get in front of a fighter like this.”
Pasillas was in the same position four months ago, entering as the perceived underdog in a featherweight clash with unbeaten Ranfis Javier Encarnacion. The bout proved to be a showcase performance for the undefeated southpaw, who overwhelmed Encarnacion en route to a 6th round stoppage last September on an FS1 show from L.A.
The bout came less than two months after Aleem already made his way back to the ring, scoring a 10th round injury stoppage of Marcus Bates in their Showtime-televised rematch last August. Aleem emerged with his unbeaten record still intact and a lofty alphabet ranking which made him an appealing target.
“I told my manager Greg Hannity [Prince Ranch Boxing] and my coach Brian Schwartz and even Mario (Serrano, Pasillas’ publicist) that I didn’t want anybody that wasn’t undefeated or ranked in the top five,” Pasillas demanded of his next fight. “I’m getting both with this fight. It’s exactly what I wished for. It’s exactly what I wanted.
“When I’d seen Ra’eese fight earlier last year, I told my wife “That’d be a good step-up for me.” Then a couple of months after my last fight, they came to me with this one.”
There has never been any indication of Aleem—who is also managed by Prince Ranch Boxing—ever shying away from a tough challenge. Still, few divisional peers were beating down the door when it came time to get paired with the squat Pasillas.
Aleem has more to lose, as he is currently the number-two contender in the WBA 122-pound rankings. WBA “Super” and IBF champ Murodjon Akhmadaliev and WBA “World” titlist Brandon Figueroa both await orders for their respective first fights of 2021; Aleem could have pressed to face either one or simply accepted a safer task while waiting out his first career title fight.
To the delight of at least one fellow contender, the decision was made to endure the toughest test for both fighters.
“He’s ranked higher than me. I’m surprised they chose me,” admits Pasillas. “They could’ve picked anyone. They could’ve chosen Isaac Duarte or Carlos Castro or anyone else who was ranked ahead of me. I’m excited they picked me.”
Now comes the part where the confident 28-year old intends to make another unbeaten opponent pay for calling his number.
“This will be another Encarnacion fight,” vows Pasillas, who has stopped each of his last seven opponents. “We moved up one division after 15 months out and went in as the opponent. I told everyone during interviews what I was going to do. They were like “OK, this guy is 17-0.” I didn’t give a sh-t.
“Same goes with this Ra’eese guy. Ra’eese Aleem has six fights with three opponents. I call that a padded record. No disrespect to the man. At the end of the day, I’m gonna shake his hand and say “Thank you for picking me.” He could’ve picked anyone else. On Saturday, he’ll wish he would’ve picked someone else.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox