The announcement for the next fight involving Ra’eese Aleem caught many in the industry by surprise—none more so than the former champ he’d been long rumored to face.
A breaking news report from BoxingScene.com senior writer Keith Idec indicated that Las Vegas’ Aleem (18-0, 12KOs) will defend his WBA “interim” junior featherweight title versus Eduardo Baez (19-1-2, 6KOs) on September 18, live on Showtime from Park MGM in Las Vegas. Aleem’s placement on the card—topped by the WBC/WBO 122-pound title unification bout between Brandon Figueroa (22-0-1, 17KOs) and Stephen Fulton (19-0, 8KOs)—was expected, though previously rumored to next face former WBA “Super”/IBF titlist Danny Roman (29-3-1, 10KOs).
The change in plans remains a surprise to Roman, who remains hard at work in camp and expects to face Aleem on September 18 until informed otherwise.
“PBC and Thompson Promotions were in communication and as of now we have not been notified that the fight is no longer on the table,” Eddie Gonzalez, Roman’s manager and trainer told BoxingScene.com. “Also, as of today we have not received an offer to fight Mr. Aleem.
“Why this drastic change on the event is beyond us.”
Los Angeles’ Roman has spent his last two bouts on Premier Boxing Champion (PBC) shows following the end of his 16-month unified title reign. The highly-regarded junior featherweight earned a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over former bantamweight titlist Juan Carlos Payano last September 26 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The bout served as a WBC title eliminator, with Roman still expecting a title shot.
The wait extended through his most recent bout, a ten-round, unanimous decision win over Ricardo Espinoza this past May 15 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The fight took place on the undercard Figueroa’s seventh-round knockout of previously unbeaten Luis Nery to win the WBC junior featherweight title, securing a title unification bout between Figueroa and Fulton.
Roman was irked over his continued absence from the title picture, though at least with the consolation prize of a fight with Aleem. The winner would be left in position to potentially challenge WBA “Super”/IBF titlist Murodjon Akhmadaliev (9-0. 7KOs), who edged Roman in their twelve-round thriller last January 30 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
A win over Aleem would serve as grounds to proceed with a rematch versus Akhmadaliev or a shot at the Figueroa-Fulton winner. Until he hears otherwise, it will be business as usual in training camp.
“Danny is training for the [Aleem] fight,” notes Gonzalez. “He will continue to train until we are officially notified that the fight is cancelled.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox