“Cool Boy Steph” wanted to prove that he could do well on the inside against a fighter that concentrated on body work, and on Saturday he did just that.
Stephen Fulton (19-0, 8 KOs) went through multiple rounds of inside fighting and landed multiple jabs at a distance to score a unanimous decision win over Angelo Leo (20-1, 9 KOs) and became the WBO super bantamweight champion. Judges Frank Lombardi and Waleska Roldan each had it 119-109 for Fulton, while Steve Weisfeld had it 118-110. The wide scores were a summary of the work that Fulton did in the ring over 12 rounds as he threw more total punches (1,183 to 810) and landed more (364 to 262) against the Albuquerque native.
It was a fight full of action from the opening bell as Fulton showed early that he didn’t mind getting in the trenches against Leo, who was making his first title defense. Leo had been known for going to the body early and often, but Fulton responded by doing some body work of his own but also mixing up the punches. He was the faster fighter and was more versatile as he added a right uppercut as part of his attack in the middle part of the fight that got the better of Leo. From the midway point of the fight until the end, the activity of Fulton increased while Leo’s decreased, and that became the story of this bout.
Fulton was confident that he would win this fight but had been relieved that he got this opportunity. Last July, he was supposed to fight Leo for the title but tested positive for COVID-19. Fulton thought that he would lose the chance to fight for the world title. Once he got the news that he would fight Leo in Uncasville he worked as hard as ever to take advantage of that title shot.
“This was the first fight I wasn’t really nervous,” Fulton said after the fight. “I knew I was in shape. I barely got tired. The ring rust was there somewhat but I kinda feel like I broke out of that. Just going through everything I went through, COVID and all, getting through that helped me.”
After receiving the WBO super bantamweight title, Fulton was calm but stated that the moment hasn’t hit him yet. “When it hits me, I’m going to act the fool,” he said. “Dancing, going crazy. This is a dream come true right now. I’m a world champion.
Ra’eese Aleem beats Vic Pasillas by stoppage for interim title
In a battle of two unbeaten contenders, Ra’eese “The Beast” Aleem knocked down Vic Pasillas four times en route to an 11th round stoppage to get the interim WBA super bantamweight title and improve his record to 18-0. Aleem scored his seventh straight stoppage victory as he looks to fight the world champions in the division.
The Michigan native used his activity and power to put Pasillas on his heels for the majority of the fight as Aleem scored knockdowns in the second, sixth, and ninth rounds before the stoppage at 1:00 of the 11th round. Pasillas had no answer to get back in this fight and Aleem feels like he sent a message to the division with this win.
“I was dominant. I wanted to put an exclamation point with this performance,” Aleem said. “It just confirms what I knew in my head, that I have elite power. I wasn’t surprised that I stopped him. I didn’t think he’d be able to go the distance with me. I think a lot of the fighters in this division should really be on notice.”
Romero stops Sparrow in seven
Rolando Romero defeated late replacement Avery Sparrow as Sparrow’s corner called an end to the bout in the seventh round for Romero to stay unbeaten and keep his interim WBA lightweight title. Sparrow replaced Justin Pauldo who was removed from the bout for being overweight. Romero knocked down Sparrow in the first round and was able to beat Sparrow to the punch on multiple occasions, while Sparrow telegraphed a lot of his power shots. In the sixth round, Sparrow went down to the canvas due to a leg injury then later in the round was deducted two points for low blows. After seeing that there wasn’t much that Sparrow could do in this fight, his corner stopped it at :43 of the seventh.
Romero was looking forward to fighting Pauldo but was okay with his effort on Saturday night. “I was very disappointed, I really wanted to fight Justin Pauldo,” Romero said. “But things happen – at least I had another opponent.”
“You guys said you want to see me box and you saw me box. At the end, his corner quit and he fought like a coward. I boxed good.”
Cover photo by Amanda Westcott