Leo Dominates Williams to Earn WBO 122-lb title; Aleem Def. Bates Via TKO10
Undefeated Super Bantamweight Angelo Leo outclasses Tramaine Williams to win vacant WBO title in main event of Showtime Boxing’s return
Uncasville, Conn (August 1, 2020) — Showtime Championship Boxing’s return event didn’t go off without a Covid-19 incident. In fact, the ongoing health threat caused a shake up in the main event after Stephen Fulton Jr. had a positive test. With Fulton out, Connecticut’s Tramaine Williams was elevated into the vacant WBO Super Bantamweight championship fight against Angelo Leo.
The co-main, a 122-pound title eliminator, turned into a rematch between Williams’ original opponent Ra’eese Aleem and Marcus Bates. The opener of the card – presented by Premier Boxing Champions and promoted by Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions – remained a rematch between Light Heavyweights Joe George and Marcos Escudero.
In addition to Leo (20-0, 9 KOs) fighting for his first title in a crowd-free environment at Mohegan Sun Arena, he also had to adjust to a late switch to a southpaw opponent in Williams (19-1, 6 KOs). However, with the change he moved from being an underdog to Fulton to a pick ’em.
As to be expected, an extended feeling out period ensued in the opening round. Williams connected with a few straight left hands as Leo probed to see how he could get to the shorter fighter and find his new opponent’s body.
Leo found it difficult to get into his game through the first two frames. Progress continued to be slow for Leo in the third where he jumped in with a few shots. He finally found some openings near the end of the fourth round.
Williams got back to his preferred distance, outside, in the subsequent round. Leo fought patiently, popping his jab and looking to follow up with his right hand once in range. Williams threw few punches, but rarely left any openings for multiple punches from Leo.
Leo pressed forward in round six and attempted to impose his size advantage by working inside. Both fighters exchanged punches in the frame, but the action came to a halt after Williams took a low blow.
The action took place center-ring through the first half of the seventh. Leo bit down, lowered his head and kept a shoulder on Williams to stay close and fire away with busier hands.
Williams moved backwards and circled to set up at range in round eight. Leo continued his pursuit, letting hooks fly to Williams body as the focal part of his attack. Referee Harvey Dock called out warnings to the 26-year old native of Albuquerque, New Mexico to keep his punches up.
Williams’ offense dwindled down to single jabs and an attempt to counter with his left hand where possible. Now in the ninth round, Leo continued to march forward throwing punches to make contact. Occasionally Leo stepped forward looking to see if his right hand could reach Williams. He also started to feint more vary his ways of getting to Williams.
Leo’s attack in the 10th kicked into high gear. He crashed a series of shots against Williams’ head and body. A Williams low blow broke up Leo’s growing momentum.
Williams’ urgency seemingly remained absent in the 11th despite having gone several rounds without any defining moments. Leo continued to march forward and assert himself. Williams flashed some movement and landed a counter left hand or two, but nothing to significantly affect the scorecards.
The 12th and final round opened with Leo seemingly needing to simply finish the fight on his feet for a victory. He attacked in a controlled fashion, he looked like the fresher fighter, and completed the round like he needed another 10-9 score.
The judges scored the fight 117-111, 118-110 and 118-110 for a unanimous decision in Leo’s favor. Along with Johnnie Tapia, Leo became Albuquerque’s second world champion. After the fight the broadcast team mentioned the WBO’s mandate that Leo face Fulton within 180 days.
Ra’eese Aleem vs Marcus Bates
Ra’eese Aleem stalked Marcus Bates early and frequently, fighting aggressively mixing in feints to set up flurries. Bates timed some shots inside in the first two minutes. Aleem had some cleaner attacks towards the end of the round, but Bates eliminated any doubts of his sharpness. The two fighters were familiar with each other from an 8-round fight in April 2018.
The undefeated Aleem’s smarter attacking increased over the next couple of rounds, mainly by varying his use of his jab. The jab made the combination punching easier.
By the fight’s midway point several openings were present for Aleem as he worked in more weapons in his arsenal. The conversation in Bates’ corner had a growing sense of concern.
Bates’ energy didn’t rise to the occasion in the seventh round. Aleem slipped and parried Bates’ punches while he gracefully bounced into angles to work freely with punches from both hands.
In the eighth round Aleem’s movement was still fresher, and a feint created the opening for a solid right hand to Bates’ hand. The Muskegeon, Mich. native continued to land right hand to Bates’ body. In the final minute Bates took a chance at operating out of a corner or off the ropes. Aleem was still sharp enough to get in, get off and get out without being hit.
Bates (11-2-1, 8 KOs) stood his ground center-ring to open the ninth round. He landed a left hook inside, but Aleem quickly adjusted to the change up. Moments later Bates’ back was in a corner again. Matters got worse for Bates later in the round as he started shaking out his right hand.
Bates fought on into the 10th round, but Aleem continued with his work. Aleem got to an angle and fired a left hook to Bates’ body, and the D.C. native reacted oddly after a blow hit his right forearm/elbow area. As Bates walked away grimacing with his guard down Aleem threw another left hand and referee Gary Rosato moved in between the fighters to stop the fight.
Officially, the fight ended at 2:18, and Aleem improved to 17-0 with the hard-earned TKO.
Joe George vs Marcos Escudero
Marcos Escudero dropped a questionable decision to Houston’s Joe George in November, and spent the last several months preparing to avenge his only loss.
George unleashed several big shots early to open the fight. Escudero (10-2, 9 KOs) handled the single shots well, and adjusted his approach in working his way within range. In addition to the overhand rights George jabbed to the body.
Both men had moments fighting their fight in the second frame. Escudero continued with his pressure, and once getting to George (11-0, 7 KOs) he worked up and down with left hooks. George’s scoring happened from outside mostly, but mainly in single punches.
In the third and fourth rounds Escudero maintained his marching to George who rarely committed to an intentional jab. George looked for counter-punching opportunities. When Escudero tracked George into the ropes he slid to get to angles to find openings in the Houston native’s tight guard.
George briefly walked to Escudero to open the sixth round. After a sort exchange he shifted back to working off his back foot looking to time his counter left hook. Escudero’s attack resumed.
With three rounds to go Escudero appeared to be solidifying a significant lead in rounds won. The challenge became finding away to vary how he walked down George. George continued to wait, sparingly throw punches and remain covered up up top. In round eight George appeared to time Escudero coming in with a right hand. The half punch half shove landed on the top of Escudero’s head and forced him to a knee.
In the ninth George abruptly closed the the show. He took a step back missed with a right, recoiled quickly to fire a left uppercut before the Argentine could regroup for his next attack. The 27-year old never saw the shot coming, and initially tried to get up, but his senses never came back to him to get to his feet. The short explosive shot erased Escudero’s apparent wide lead, as the fight came to an end at 30 seconds into the round when referee Danny Schiavone counted to 10.
George was up several rounds on one card himself, 79-73, but was down on the other two cards needing to do something spectacular to pull out the win.
All photos by Amanda Westcott/Showtime