Stephen Fulton feels his junior featherweight title fight against Angelo Leo hasn’t received as much attention as it deserves.
Five months after they were supposed to fight for the then-vacant WBO 122-pound championship, the undefeated, 26-year-old boxers have been rescheduled to meet January 23 in a bout Fulton figures will deliver plenty of entertainment. Philadelphia’s Fulton is a slight favorite, despite that Leo soundly defeated Fulton’s replacement, Tramaine Williams, in their 12-round title fight August 1 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs), the number one challenger for Leo’s title, withdrew from their August 1 bout just three days in advance because he tested positive for COVID-19. Leo overwhelmed Williams, a previously unbeaten southpaw, with his pressure and body punching that night and comfortably defeated Fulton’s late replacement on all three scorecards (118-110, 118-110, 117-111).
“January 23rd, it’s gonna be fireworks,” Fulton said recently during a virtual press conference. “He’s a champion. He has that spark, that fire in him. He’s coming to fight, I’m coming to fight. I’m coming hungry, we’re both coming hungry, so it’s gonna be a great matchup. I feel as though the fight is actually a little bit underrated because we’re smaller guys, but me and him are … two [of the] top guys in the division.
“We’re in the top five, including the current world champs. So, we’re definitely gonna make noise, and we’re both coming to fight. We both have a chip on our shoulder. I feel like we both have something to prove. This fight is one of the biggest fights in the division, so I’m just ready to get it on.”
Leo (20-0, 9 KOs), who is promoted by Floyd Mayweather’s company, became just the fifth world champion from Albuquerque, New Mexico, when he defeated Williams (19-1, 6 KOs, 1 NC). He joined late legends Johnny Tapia, a three-weight world champion, and WBA/WBC light heavyweight champ Bob Foster, former two-division champion Danny Romero and onetime women’s welterweight champ Holly Holm in exclusive company among Albuquerque natives.
“You have Angelo Leo, coming off his tremendous victory against Tramaine Williams to win the WBO title,” Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather Promotions’ CEO, stated during the aforementioned press conference. “In that particular fight, that was his coming-out party. Although he’s fought on ‘ShoBox’ a few other fights, but this was his coming-out party. He was really, really impressive, and he made a big statement. And when it comes to Stephen Fulton, he definitely doesn’t lack confidence. And that’s the one thing that I do love about him. He’s young, undefeated, he’s talented, and he feels very, very confident.
“He’s let the world know that this will be his easiest payday to date. He feels as though that he’s gonna walk right through Angelo Leo. That’s what makes for great fights. You have two young, undefeated fighters coming together, fighting in their prime, and that’s really what it’s all about. And it’s a fight where Angelo Leo, with him being the world champion, Stephen Fulton is a slight favorite. You know, so again, this is a very, very good matchup.”
The Leo-Fulton fight will headline a “Showtime Championship Boxing” tripleheader from Mohegan Sun Arena.
Raesse Aleem (17-0, 10 KOs), of Muskegon, Michigan, and Vic Pasillas (16-0, 9 KOs), of Redwood City, California, will square off in the 12-round co-feature for the WBA interim 122-pound title. The telecast is set to start with another 12-rounder in which Las Vegas’ Rolando Romero (12-0, 10 KOs) will face Philadelphia’s Avery Sparrow (10-2, 3 KOs, 1 NC).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.