Ra’eese Aleem can finally look forward to a fight that should place him in title contention.
All he needs now is for a promoter to pick up the rights.
A purse bid hearing has been ordered for a WBC title eliminator between Aleem and Mexico’s Alan David Picasso. The junior featherweight matchup will be made available to the highest bidder during a ceremony to be held Friday at noon local time from WBC headquarters in Mexico City. WBC-registered promoters can also participate via Zoom.
The winner will be named as the sanctioning body’s second mandatory to reigning WBC/WBO 122-pound king Stephen Fulton (21-0, 8KOs). Luis Nery (34-1, 26KOs) is the first mandatory in line following his eleventh-round knockout of Azat Hovhannisyan in their unforgettable February 18 slugfest in Pomona, California.
The leading Fight of the Year contender saw Nery march through hell to eventually force a stoppage. The former two-division titlist will now await the winner of Fulton’s unified title defense versus former three-division champ Naoya Inoue (24-0, 21KOs), which was rescheduled for July 25 at Ariake Arena in Tokyo.
In theory, the winner of Aleem-Picasso will get the next title. That’s if the rules are followed to the letter.
Aleem (20-0, 12KOs) has rapidly emerged both as a top contender and as the division’s most avoided fighter.
The unbeaten boxer from Las Vegas by way of Muskegon, Michigan became one to watch following a one-sided, eleventh-round knockout of Vic Pasillas in their January 2021 battle of unbeaten prospects. The win came on the undercard of Fulton’s WBO title victory over Angelo Leo, with the two also featured in separate bouts later that
November. Fulton unified the WBC and WBO titles with a win over Brandon Figueroa in their memorable battle of unbeaten titlists, while Aleem settled for a majority decision victory over Eduardo Baez.
Just one fight was featured in Aleem’s disappointing 2022 campaign, though he made it count in a ten-round shutout of Mike Plania last September 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
Aleem has spent much of his time at the contender level calling for a fight with Fulton, or really any top 122-pound fighter. The inability to land a title shot has been additionally frustrating to Aleem as both he and Fulton fight under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner.
Picasso (24-0-1, 13KOs) will make a considerable leap in competition, assuming the fight moves forward. The baby-faced 22-year-old from Mexico City has fought exclusively in Mexico through six years as a pro. He enters the ordered eliminator having stopped each of his past six opponents, including a sixth-round knockout of countryman Kevin Villanueva on March 4 in Merida, Mexico.
Nery-Hovhannisyan and Aleem-Picasso were both approved as title eliminators during the WBC's annual convention last November in Acapulco. At the time, it was believed that a Fulton-Figueroa rematch was going to take place at featherweight, where the WBC approved an interim title at stake. The sanctioning body classified the two eliminators as a four-man tournament, with the teaser of allowing for the two winners to fight for an interim belt or for the vacant title had Fulton beaten Figueroa and remained at featherweight.
Instead, the box-off has changed to a growing line awaiting the winner of the well-received Fulton-Inoue championship clash.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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