Stephen Fulton Jr. wins firefight with Angelo Leo
SAN DIEGO, Calif., January 23, 2021 – Boxing had some tough competition from Fight Island, but held its own with three action fights from the Fightsphere in Uncasville, Connecticut. Undefeated super bantamweights Stephen Fulton Jr. of Philadelphia (19-0, 8 KOs) Angelo Leo (19-1, 9 KOs) were originally scheduled to fight last August, but the bout was derailed by Fulton Jr.’s positive COVID-19 test a week before the fight. He admitted to tears over the lost opportunity. Leo defeated replacement opponent Tremaine Williams for a vacant WBO junior featherweight title.
Super bantamweights finally get into the ring
Once the pair finally got into the ring Saturday, Fulton Jr. beat Leo at his own game, showing impressive stamina considering his fight with the coronavirus and a year layoff, winning a unanimous decision with dominating scorecards of 119-109 X 2 and 118-110. Fulton Jr. swept all of the rounds from the fifth on.
“The bullies get bullied, it always happens,” said Fulton. “The game plan was to box at first, but when I got in there and made a few mistakes, I had to make it a dog fight and continue to bang with him, and that’s what I did.”
Fulton, Jr. vs. Leo
Leo, age 26 from Albuquerque, hoped to become the first world champion from New Mexico since Johnny Tapia. His calling card is his body punching, and from the opening bell, Leo kept the fight in a phone booth. Fulton Jr., normally more a boxer-puncher, was willing to stay right there with him, and the pair pounded away.
It was a smart approach by Fulton. By crowding Leo and leaning on him, he could negate the leverage on Leo’s body punches while taking shots to Leo’s head and sneaking in his own body punches when Leo’s attention was diverted. As Fulton kept ripping shots, Leo’s vicious punch rate began to drop by the middle of the fight, although the pair’s pace was blistering and only slightly lessened by round six.
Fulton’s corner told him before the eighth round, “You know he’s slowing down, pick up the fight!'”Leo was winded in the corner, but he wasn’t letting it show during the rounds. He stayed in close, forcing Fulton to keep his work rate up. Considering Fulton was coming off his own fight with COVID-19 last summer, his conditioning and stamina were all the more impressive. “I was depressed when it happened, but I changed my whole mindset,” said Fulton Jr.
A “beautifully brutal” matchup
Fulton let the jab come out to play a little more in the last third of the fight, and using his footwork, started to pull away ever so slightly from Leo. After the 10th round, and again after the 11th, Leo’s father and trainer told his son, “We’re down. You need to knock this guy out. That’s the only way we’re gonna win.” Fulton’s corner told him before the final round to be smart.
Leo suffered a cut over the left eye in the first round, keeping cutman Danny Milano busy, but it wasn’t a factor in the fight.
It was a beautifully brutal matchup. Between them, Fulton Jr. and Leo landed 558 power punches. Leo landed 142 body shots on Fulton, but he weathered them all.
“It’s been a tough year for all of us, but it gave me a chance to understand – damn, when something is taken away from you, you find your love for it,” said Fulton Jr. “There”s a lot more that I can work on, but as long as I got the job done, I got to get back, relax, and enjoy myself.” Leo was taken to an area hospital as a precaution following the bout.
Fulton Jr. is now the sole representative of Philadelphia boxing with a title as the WBO junior featherweight champion and pointed out he is Philadelphia’s only champion in any sport.
Aleem pounds Pasillas to remain undefeated
Also in the super bantamweight division, undefeated Ra’eese Aleem of Muskegon, Michigan (18-0, 11 KOs) got the better of Vic Pasillas of Los Angeles (16-1, 9 KOs).
Aleem and Pasillas got right down to business and never let up in an all-offense fight. Aleem scored an impressive knockdown with a pretty straight right hand two minutes into the second round. Pasillas got up on shaky legs, and nearly got caught again 30 seconds later, stumbling but staying on his feet. Aleem tried to find a home for the left hook to end things, but Pasillas survived.
Believing he was on borrowed time, Pasillas came out aggressively in the third round. Give Pasillas credit for hanging tough. He kept his hope alive through the 11th round, surviving a sixth-round knockdown from a left hook, and another in the ninth from a solid right hand, forcing Pasillas to touch a glove to the canvas.
Aleem finally made it still with a hard right to the head followed by a left hook one minute into the 11th round, and the referee was quick to jump in and call it a night for Pasillas, a smart move with time running out and Pasillas taking too much punishment.
“I wanted to put an exclamation point with this performance,” said Aleem. “It feels absolutely amazing. It just confirms what I knew in my head, that I have elite power. He’s one of the top fighters in the division, so to knock him out, it means I’m a true threat.”
Aleem continued, noting “I think a lot of people were sleeping on me and my power. I wasn’t surprised that I stopped him. I didn’t think he’d be able to go the distance with me.” Added Aleem, I think a lot of the fighters in this division should really be on notice,”
Aleem is talented, but he needs to shore up his defense, or a harder hitting opponent could do some damage. Aleem now hopes to face Fulton for a title but also named titleholder Murodjon Akhmaddaliev as a target.
Romero redeems himself with TKO win over Sparrow
Roland Romero of Las Vegas (13-0, 11 KOs) had something to prove to his critics, who felt he got away with a gift decision in his last bout. Taking his frustration out on replacement opponent Avery Sparrow of Philadelphia (10-4, 3 KOs), Romero stepped up his jab and work rate, producing a solid TKO win in seven rounds.
“I’m a growing fighter. I came into this game eight years ago, I started boxing late and didn’t have much of an amateur career. I’m learning on the job. The old me would have went in there to destroy him,” said Romero.
Romero caught Sparrow in the first round with a counter left hook for a knockdown and kept the pressure on with a busy jab. Sparrow tried to find a home for his good right hand, but Romero didn’t let it happen.
Sparrow grew frustrated, holding and landing low blows. Referee Johnny Callas docked Sparrow two points for international low blows in the sixth round, but it didn’t matter. Sparrow’s corner didn’t like what they were seeing and asked Callas to stop the fight at 43 seconds of the seventh. It was a smart call. All three judges had the fight scored 60-51.
“I didn’t really get to showcase the angles. I believe it was the last round, I started letting off. My defense was sharp, I was just sharp in general. I wouldn’t say it was an improvement from my last fight; just showing more of what I have,” said Romero.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on social media at@PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
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