Last week Showtime Boxing gave fans of the sport quite a bit to look forward to over the next five months. Starting this Saturday, August 1, the premium cable network resumes its boxing schedule with eight more live events to follow. Up first, a couple of undefeated prospects – Stephen Fulton Jr. and Angelo Leo – who are alumni of Showtime’s popular long-running series ShoBox: The New Generation. The winner becomes ShoBox’ 76th fighter to go on to become a world champion.
Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs) hails from Philadelphia, PA and has the opportunity to return to one of boxing’s best breeding grounds as its only champion. Similarly, Leo (19-0, 9 KOs) currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada but is mindful of the historical significance of taking the vacant WBO Super Bantamweight title back to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The pair meet in the main event this Saturday in a crowd-free environment inside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The Showtime Championship Boxing, the network’s first live event since mid-March, airs at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, and will feature two other fights. The card is a Premier Boxing Champions event promoted by Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions. The co-main event is a Super Bantamweight title eliminator between Tramaine Williams (19-0, 6 KOs) and Ra’eese Aleem (16-0, 10 KOs). In the opener, undefeated Light Heavyweight Joe George (10-0, 6 KOs) faces Marcos Escudero (10-1, 9 KOs) in a rematch of their November bout.
Fulton vs Leo presents an interesting clash of styles with the Philly fighter being the favorite at -300. The records are similar, they’re both 26 years old, and nothing jumps out on the Tale of the Tape. Fulton’s record includes wins versus seven undefeated opponents, with victories against Joshua Greer Jr and Adam Lopez. Leo is at +225, has some victories against some tough opponents in the division, and is coming off an 11-round TKO of Cesar Juarez in December on the undercard of Gervonta Davis vs Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Fulton defeated Arnold Khegai via unanimous decision January 25 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. With the layoff caused by ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the deciding factor could come down to which fighter’s been able to get into a boxing gym the most frequently. Secondly, the quality of sparring – which may be a wash with the two training in Las Vegas and Philadelphia. Neither fighter is a thunderous puncher, so keys to watch are Fulton’s sharpness as he relies on good movement, slick defensive skills and an educated offense at all ranges. Leo’s intrigued to see how sturdy Fulton is, so if he’s unable to box with him from outside and mid-range, he will try to close the distance and crowd Fulton in order to land meaningful shots.
Both men are confident, and aware this is the ideal situation for them to become world champions. Expect a well-contested bout with both men having a chance to win the fight going into the championship rounds. In a virtual press conference last Wednesday, the fighters shared the following remarks about their upcoming bout.
STEPHEN FULTON JR.
“It would mean everything to me (to be the only current world champion from Philadelphia). I feel like I always hold Philly on my back, no matter what, and that mindset would not change even if there were five champions from Philly. I am coming to fight.”
“You should expect a good fight. I have been rocked before, but look where I’m at, still standing. I’m just excited overall for every aspect in how he fights. I am excited to be in the ring with him and have the opportunity to display my skills.”
“I am going to beat him because he hasn’t been tested. No one he fought has brought any competition to him. I am going to beat him because I have been tested, I have taken those punches and showed I can get up. Also, my overall skills are just better than his.
“I am always looking to mental adjustments leading up to the fight, and during the fight. I plan to look at this like sparring. When you are sparring, no one is there. I plan to have that same energy, but just a little more intense.
“Personally, I just want to beat him. After that, we can talk about what happens in the future. Honestly, I am just worried about this guy. I am not even thinking about anyone else. That being said, I feel like I am the best in this division. I prove myself over and over again, and that is what I am going to continue to do. I want to be the first undisputed 122-pound champion in the world.”
“It would mean the world to me (to be the first champion from Albuquerque since the late great Johnny Tapia). He was a fighter I look up to, and to become a champion out of Albuquerque says a lot about the city, and a lot about myself. The goal is to become champion, and to represent Albuquerque in the process.
“At the end of the day it is a fight. He can boast about his resume all he wants. We are both top five in the world, we are both undefeated, so it does not really matter once we get in there. He has beaten undefeated fighters, but if you look at those fights, he has been rocked and dropped in all of them. He is not untouchable.
“I am going to get the victory, of course. Whether it goes 12 rounds or not, I am going in there to get that title.
“I am hungrier than him. I have seen what he has, and I know I can break him down. He doesn’t have the will and the heart like I do. On top of that, I have a lot of skill and experience. He is going to see why I am undefeated.
“I definitely feel I’m ready for championship fights. I thought I was ready for a world title three years ago. After I stopped Cesar Juarez in spectacular fashion, I knew I was ready for a world title.
“The 122-pound division is loaded, filled with great talent. This just makes for exciting fights. This is what boxing fans want, and this is what we are going to give them. To be the best you need to beat the best, and if you do not think that way you should not be in the sport. I am in this sport to be the best.”
All photos by Amanda Westcott/Showtime