Undefeated 122-pound champion Angelo Leo and fellow unbeaten rising star Stephen Fulton Jr. hosted a virtual conference call in advance of their long-awaited battle for Leo’s WBO Junior Featherweight World Championship Saturday, January 23 live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

WBO Junior Featherweight World Champion Angelo Leo and unbeaten rising star Stephen “Cool Boy” Fulton Jr. previewed their long-awaited championship showdown during a virtual press conference Wednesday as they prepare to battle live on SHOWTIME Saturday, January 23, in a Premier Boxing Champions event from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

The first SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast of 2021 begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. It features a co-main event pitting two more undefeated 122-pound boxers against each other as Ra’eese Aleem and Victor Pasillas face off in a 12-round bout for the interim WBA title. In the telecast opener, rising prospect Rolando Romero squares off against Justin Pauldo in a 12-round lightweight bout for Romero’s interim WBA title. The six fighters’ combined ring record on the card is a remarkable 96 wins with just one loss.

Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions promote the event.

Leo and Fulton were originally scheduled to meet on SHOWTIME for the vacant title in August before Fulton received a positive COVID-19 test. Leo defeated Tramaine Williams by unanimous decision to capture the title and now make his first defense against the unbeaten Fulton.

Here is what the press conference participants had to say Wednesday:


“This is going to be a great fight. I know Fulton is coming to fight, and I’m coming to fight too. We have two contrasting styles. I see it sort of like an East Coast vs. West Coast thing, so it’s going to be fireworks. This is going to be one of the best fights of the year, and I can’t wait for you all to see it.

“I’m not surprised at all that Vegas has Fulton as the slight favorite. I know that he has a lot of supporters. I’ve been an underdog before. I’ve been in these shoes before, so it’s no surprise to me. It just gives me more fuel for the fire. I’m not at all offended that he’s the favorite. This is boxing, and Fulton is a good fighter, but I’m looking to prove on January 23 that I’m where I belong and that I’m world champion for a reason.

“I’m known for throwing a lot of body punches and for my pressure. That’s no secret. I feel like people haven’t seen all of me yet. I have a lot to prove. I still have many looks to show, and come January 23, and I think Stephen Fulton will bring that all out of me. I think it’s important, in every fight, to go to the body. As they say, go to the body, and the head will fall, but if he wants to move around and put pressure, I have a remedy for all that.

“Floyd [Mayweather] has been in my ear, solidifying the game plan with me. He’s been telling me exactly what I need to do to win this fight. I saw him quickly on Monday. It was brief, but he just stopped in to say hello and see how I was doing.

“Being a champion is something that I always wanted to be, so now that I have the belt, I have the confidence I need. But I don’t take my foot off the gas just because I’m champion. They say that once you’re champion, it’s actually harder. As bad as you want it, now everybody else wants it just as bad as you do. My mentality is the same now that I’m a world champion, and I’m gunning for more world championships. I’m not the hunted. I’m still hunting.

“I’m going to show Stephen that it’s different when you get in the ring. There are a lot more factors that play out. Not just pressure. Not just bodywork. I have a lot of things up my sleeve that a lot of people haven’t seen yet, and I’m going to showcase all my skills on January 23.

“Johnny Tapia is the pride and joy of Albuquerque. He’s one of the greatest fighters from that city and to be mentioned with his name is an honor. Johnny Tapia was a good person, very charismatic and he showed everybody love.

“This fight is great for boxing. You have two undefeated fighters, both in their prime – what more do you want from two fighters in this boxing era? This is the marquee fight right here. This is the fight fans want to see.

“With this performance, I want to let everybody know that I’m here to stay. I think many people doubt me just because I fought Tramaine Williams, and they say he just had three days’ notice. But he was getting ready for a fight as well. I have a lot of doubters that I want to prove wrong, and in this fight, I think I’ll have the opportunity to.”


“January 23 is going to be fireworks. Leo is the champion and has that spark and fire. We’re both coming hungry and prepared to make this a great fight. This fight is actually a bit underrated because we’re smaller guys, but we’re both in the top five of this division. Leo and I both have something to prove, and I’m ready to get it on.

“I don’t think the layoff will affect me at all. I think it makes me even more ready. I can’t wait to get in the ring and get back to doing what I love.

“My game plan remains the same as if I was fighting him in August. We’re always ready to make adjustments, but I believe I’m much better than if I had fought in August. From losing that opportunity and now coming back, it’s made me better physically, mentally, and emotionally.

“Going through the experience of fighting Leo canceled just changed my mindset. I felt like I lost everything. It made me train even harder. I took that rage and anxiety and used it every day in training. I’m just ready to fight.

“To me, it means everything to be a world champion from Philadelphia. This is what I’ve been working for my whole career. To my city, it would show people from my neighborhood that there’s a way out. But I don’t feel any pressure because of it. This sport teaches us the discipline to perform in moments like this. The pressure is just a part of my job.

“My streak of taking fighters’ ‘0’ is going to continue on January 23. Fighters have their thing that they’re known for: Gervonta Davis knocks people out, Chris Colbert shows off his flashy skills, and I take fighters’ ‘0’s. Fight night; we’ll both be prepared and ready. I’m ready to put on a show, and I believe Leo will be ready to do the same.

“I’m one of the guys leading the new era of Philadelphia boxing, but I can’t get ahead of myself. I have to stay smart, calm and do my job. It’s all about doing what I came there to do.

“I am that next wave, and I’m just ready to stamp it by getting this belt. I’m going to solidify what everyone already knew about me. I have the superstar quality in me, and I’ll show it in this fight.

“Leo’s performance against Williams was what I expected. I knew he would come forward and be a dog, but I don’t think Williams expected it. He’s a good fighter, he earned his way here, and now we have to fight.”

LEONARD ELLERBE, CEO of Mayweather Promotions

“In this main event, we have a highly anticipated fight that the fans have been waiting for since it was first announced. This is a meaningful fight for the 122-pound division. This is one of the hottest divisions in boxing, with several fighters that you can mix and match to make numerous great matchups.

“Angelo Leo is coming off a tremendous victory to win this title against Tramaine Williams. That was his coming-out party. He was really impressive and made a big statement. When it comes to Fulton, you know he doesn’t lack confidence. He’s young, undefeated, talented, and feels like this will be his easiest payday to date. He believes he’s going to walk through Leo.

“This main event has two young undefeated fighters facing each other in their primes. That’s what makes a great fight. It’s also interesting that Fulton is actually a slight betting favorite, despite Leo being the champion.

“We open the telecast with Mayweather Promotions’ own Rolando Romero. ‘Rolly’ is coming off a less than impressive performance when he won the interim title, so he’ll be looking to make a big statement for fans. This is going to be a great card from top to bottom, and we can’t wait.”

TOM BROWN, President of TGB Promotions

“You won’t find many young fighters that have been against as much impressive competition as Stephen Fulton has. Seven of his victories out of his 18 wins are over undefeated fighters. It’s awe-inspiring. He’s coming to grab what he believes is his and what should have been his back in August.

“The co-feature is the fight I’m really excited about with Ra’eese Aleem and Victor Pasillas. This is a crucial matchup with very legitimate contenders. A 50-50 fight between two undefeated prospects in the hot 122-pound division. Both fighters have made it clear that they want the elite of the division, and they are willing to put it all on the line on January 23 to make that happen. The winner of this fight will be in the driver’s seat for any of the 122-pound champions.

“In the opener, they say styles make fights, and Justin Pauldo has a style that could really give Rolando Romero some fits. He’s got a great jab, and he’s in great shape and down in Houston training with Ronnie Shields. He’s coming to win. Out of the six featured fights, we have only one loss between them, so we will see some ‘0’s go on January 23. We’re looking forward to it.”

In the long-awaited battle between undefeated rising junior featherweight stars, WBO 122-pound World Champion Angelo Leo meets Stephen “Cool Boy” Fulton Jr., in the main event of the first SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast of 2021 Saturday, January 23 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT live on SHOWTIME from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

The co-main event pits two more undefeated 122-pound boxers against each other as Ra’eese Aleem and Victor Pasillas face off in a 12-round bout for the interim WBA title. The telecast opener features rising prospect Rolando Romero against Justin Pauldo in a 12-round lightweight bout for Romero’s interim WBA title. The six fighters’ combined ring record on the card is a remarkable 96 wins with just one loss.

Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions promote the event.

“We’re rolling straight into 2021, ready to keep creating as many opportunities as we can for our fighters,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions. “Angelo Leo and Rolando Romero will both be defending their titles for the first time and will be put to yet another test in their respective bouts. Everyone has been working hard and fine-tuning in preparation for January 23, and it’s going to be another great night of boxing filled with inspiring talent to kick off the new year.”

“Leo vs. Fulton is a true 50-50 matchup between two rising stars entering the primes of their careers,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Fulton’s chance at capturing the title was delayed, but his opportunity finally comes January 23 on SHOWTIME. Leo worked incredibly hard to capture the world championship in August and will come prepared and determined to defend it successfully.

“The super bantamweight division will have a clear world title contender emerge from the co-main event, a battle of unbeatens between Aleem and Pasillas. Add in the opening bout of ‘Rolly’ Romero vs. Justin Pauldo, a fight that can launch a prospect into a contender, and we have an excellent fight card to kick off the year.”

Leo (20-0, 9 KOs), who fights out of the Mayweather Promotions stable, became the first world champion from his hometown of Albuquerque, N.M., since legendary three-division champion Johnny Tapia when he defeated Tramaine Williams by unanimous decision in August. The 26-year-old was originally scheduled to face Fulton for the vacant WBO junior featherweight world title that evening in the first SHOWTIME boxing event following the sport’s pandemic shutdown. Still, Fulton was forced to withdraw following a positive COVID-19 test.

“It’s been a crazy year for everyone, but to say I walked out of 2020 a world champion is truly incredible and humbling,” said Leo. “I spent 16 years training for that moment to become a champion, and here I am, preparing for my next camp for my first defense top of 2021. That’s a blessing, and I thank Mayweather Promotions and my team for that. My experiences with Floyd’s last camp would really put me in a great position going into this fight.

“My father Miguel has been instrumental in keeping me grounded and reminding me that all of these fighters are eyeing my spot. My goal in 2021 is to remain champion and get more belts, and Fulton is that next test.”

Born and raised in West Philadelphia, Pa., Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs) has faced impressive competition in his young career while rising to the 122-pound ranks, where he is currently rated No. 1 by the WBO. In his last 12 professional fights, the 26-year-old has beaten seven unbeaten fighters, including Josh Greer, Adam Lopez, and Luis Saul Rosario. Fulton’s two most recent wins are a knockout over Isaac Avelar in August 2019 before most recently scoring a dominant 12-round unanimous decision victory over Arnold Khegai in January.

“Training is going great,” said Fulton. “I feel like everything happens for a reason because I’m 10 times more ready now than I was the first time around. I’m excited to fight for the title, and I expect nothing but Angelo Leo to be himself and fight his fight on January 23.”

Ranked in the top-10 by the WBA and IBF at 122 pounds, Aleem (17-0, 11 KOs) can take a big step closer to a world title shot when he faces fellow unbeaten Pasillas for the interim WBA strap on January 23. Raised in Michigan and training out of Las Vegas, Nev., Aleem, 30, has stopped his past six opponents inside the distance as he continues to step up his competition.

“This is a high-stakes fight, and the winner will get a guaranteed world title fight,” said Aleem. “It’s going to be a good fight, but I am at the top of the heap. I knew I belonged at the top a long time ago, and after my last fight, that was proven. Winning this fight makes me the number-one contender, and the only thing left after this is to win the world title.”

Pasillas (15-0, 8 KOs), who hails from East Los Angeles, is fresh off a dominating sixth-round knockout over then-unbeaten Ranfis Javier Encarnacion September 2020, which launched him into the WBA’s top-10 rankings. Like Aleem, the 28-year-old Pasillas also carries significant power. He has stopped his four most recent foes, including a first-round knockout of Ernesto Guerrero.

“I’ve envisioned being in this position since I first stepped into a boxing gym at age eight, and now it’s time to seize the moment,” said Pasillas. “I’m going to take full advantage of this opportunity and show the world, and everyone watching on SHOWTIME, that I belong on the big stage with the elite fighters at super bantamweight. Aleem is a good fighter, but he won’t be able to hang with me. I’m going to punish him until I knock him out. East L.A. in the house, let’s go!”

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nev., Romero (12-0, 10 KOs) returns to SHOWTIME following his controversial unanimous decision victory over Jackson Marinez in August. The 25-year-old captured the interim WBA lightweight title with that win and went the distance for just the second time in his professional career. Fighting under the Mayweather Promotions banner, Romero has been matched tough early in his career with just two losses among his four most recent opponents, including the once-defeated Pauldo.

“I’m going to approach this fight like I do any other fight; I don’t feel the need to sell myself,” said Romero. “I’m thankful for my fans who have been with me since day one. I fight for them because a fan of Rolly is to be an underdog, to be doubted, and that’s all I have ever been. Whether you’re with me on January 23 or against me, I know you will be watching.”

Following an impressive unanimous decision victory over a tough Josec Ruiz in August 2020, Pauldo (14-1, 7 KOs) returns against his career’s stiffest test when he faces the blue-chip prospect, Romero. Hailing from Orlando, Fla., and training in Houston, Texas, Pauldo, 26, owns a four-inch reach advantage over Romero, who is the third unbeaten foe of his career.

“I’m thankful for this opportunity, and I’m excited for all of my years of hard work to pay off on January 23,” said Pauldo. “I was already training and in shape when I got the call for this fight, so I’m going to be 100% on fight night. Romero is a one-gear type of fighter who comes straight forward. I believe that I have better skills and am a better all-around fighter. This is definitely going to be an interesting fight with contrasting styles, and I can’t wait to show off my skills and bring this title home.”

The WBO 122-pound title will be on the line in Showtime’s first “Championship Boxing” of 2021.

By Michael Woods /badlefthook.com

During Showtime’s final event of 2020 on Saturday night, the first Showtime Championship Boxing attraction for 2021 was announced, with Angelo Leo set to defend his WBO 122-pound title against Stephen Fulton Jr in the main event.

The event, which features six fighters with a combined record of 97-1, will be held Saturday, Jan. 23 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., days after the previously announced ShoBox event on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Leo (20-0, 9 KO) captured the then-vacant WBO trinket in August when the two unbeaten 26-year-olds were originally set to meet, but Fulton was a COVID scratch. New Mexico’s Leo instead took on Tramaine Williams and won a clear decision over 12 rounds.

Fulton (18-0, 8 KO) was confident he was going to beat Leo in August, and now has the opportunity to claim the belt he wanted months ago.


The SHOWTIME boxing schedule begins on Saturday, August 1 and runs through the end of 2020. Initially, each live telecast will be presented without fans in attendance from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Included in the schedule are four world title eliminators, three interim title fights and 13 bouts in all pitting top-10 ranked fighters.

“We are proud to announce the strongest and most comprehensive schedule of fights in all of boxing,” said Stephen Espinoza, President, Sports and Event Programming, Showtime Networks Inc. “Each bout on this schedule, our largest schedule announcement since 2018, carries high stakes and significant implications. From highly regarded prospects to emerging stars to established champions – all in tough matchups – this lineup delivers on our promise to provide boxing fans with the best talent, the most exciting fights and the highest quality presentation in the sport. We are thrilled to return to live boxing with this star-studded schedule of exciting, meaningful fights.”

Philadelphia’s 122-pound rising star Stephen Fulton Jr. (18-0, 8 KOs) will headline SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® on August 1 (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) against talented, fellow undefeated contender Angelo Leo (19-0, 9 KOs) of the Mayweather stable in a marquee 12-round matchup for the vacant WBO junior featherweight world title. The Premier Boxing Champions event is promoted by Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions. This will mark the first live boxing event on SHOWTIME since ShoBox: The New Generation on March 13 when the network presented what was to be the last nationally televised professional sporting event in the U.S. for several weeks.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be finally getting back to boxing,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions. “Everyone has been patiently waiting and the series of fights that we will collectively put on over the next few months will be great for boxing and the sports world in general. We’re kicking things off August 1 with a world title opportunity for our rising contender Angelo Leo who has been consistently grinding and taking care of business. He’s facing another young and focused undefeated fighter and only one of them can be crowned champion. Both guys are confident that the title belongs to them, which is going to make for a great fight from the first bell.”

“I have been really impressed with both Fulton and Leo,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Fulton’s resume includes victories over eight undefeated fighters. Angelo Leo will be the third straight unbeaten fighter he’s faced. Leo has passed every test he’s had with victories against some of the toughest fighters in the division. The winner of this match will be soaring to new heights in the division.”

The opening bout on SHOWTIME saw Philadelphia’s Stephen “Cool Boy Steph” Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs) earn a unanimous decision victory over previously unbeaten Arnold Khegai (16-1-1, 10 KOs) in their vacant WBO Inter-Continental Jr. Featherweight Clash.

Fulton established his jab as his best weapon from the opening frame, snapping his left hand at Khegai consistently to force his hard charging opponent to hesitate on his way in. Fulton landed 25% of his jabs, connecting on 83, compared to Khegai’s 28.

“That’s what I do,” said Fulton. “I use my jab. I tried to utilize the jab all night and win the fight behind the jab. I showed that I’m ready for a world title next.”

Khegai looked to throw power shots early and often, targeting the body and trying to finish his combos with a left hook. While he was able to force Fulton to retreat to the corner often, he was unable to take advantage, as Fulton was able to hold strategically and slow Khegai’s offense.

As the fight went on, Fulton increased his activity, mixing in lead left hooks and body shots to make Khegai hesitate further. Khegai’s frustration appeared to grow as the fight went on, as his output decreased from chasing Fulton around the ring. While Khegai was the more active puncher over 12 rounds, throwing 649 to Fulton’s 535, Fulton landed 182 punches compared to 123 from Khegai.

“I felt great against a tough opponent,” said Fulton. “I stayed on my boxing, kept him off his game and pulled a victory out. I knew he was a rough and tumble customer, so I just had to keep my composure.”

While Khegai landed some powerful shots in the championship rounds, Fulton was too elusive and was never hurt by Khegai, on his way to earning the victory by scores of 116-112 and 117-111 twice.

“It feels good to get this win,” said Fulton. “We’ve been through tough times and fought tough opponents. I’m proud of my team for staying together. We’re Philly strong. I want that world title. I’m going to train even harder for my next performance so if I have to dog out it out even more, I’ll be ready.”