Philadelphia resident Stephen Fulton (18-0, KO8) is looking to make a statement in 2021 and beyond, after seeing his progress checked by the COVID-19 crisis in 2020.
Fulton was all set for a vacant WBO Super Featherweight title clash with Las Vegas based “El Chinito” Angelo Leo (20-0, KO9) back in August, but had to pull out with days to go as he was struck down with the virus.
The pair finally get it on this Saturday night inside the Mohegan Sun Hotel & Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, with Leo now serving as full champion having won the title against late notice replacement for Fulton, Tremaine Williams.
‘Cool Boy Steph’ Fulton, has built a solid unbeaten record, and has trained alongside the very best along the way. He served as a chief sparring and training partner to Carl Frampton ahead of the Irishman’s WBO title defence against Nonito Donaire in April 2018.
“Stephen’s a fighter with enormous talent” said Frampton. “The difference between Stephen and other sparring partners that we have had over here is that he wanted to learn and improve. He has the potential to become a future world champion.”
Just over a year after his time with Frampton, Fulton won the IBO Super Bantamweight title with a dominant shutout points win against Paulus Ambunda, and followed that up three months later with a sixth round knockout of the unbeaten Isaac Avelar.
The Phiadelphian was last in a ring at the end of January this year, winning the ranking building WBO Intercontinental belt with a wide points win against Arnold Khegai in Brooklyn.
Khegai was the seventh fighter Fulton had faced and beaten, that had previously been undefeated. Fulton’s opponent this Saturday comes with the same credentials.
Floyd Mayweather backed Leo has progressed much more rapidly since being taken under the pound for pound king’s wing in 2017.
He had four fights in both 2018 and 2019, and an eleventh round stoppage of Cesar Juarez to round off 2019 saw Leo pick up the WBO NABO belt, and put him in line for full world honours.
When Emanuel Navarrete vacated the WBO Super Featherweight crown, it was left to Leo and Fulton to fight it out, but after Fulton and members of his team returned positive tests, Leo contested the vacant belt against the unbeaten Tremaine Williams.
Leo was just that bit more seasoned than his opponent, and took a wide points win to become champion.
Prediction: Fulton has impressed thus far in his career, but Leo has also come on in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, and will have gained confidence from winning the world title, so this could be a tight affair.
I lean towards the more rounded Fulton here, who, if he can stay out of trouble in the early stages, can pull away down the stretch for a clear points win.
There are two WBA interim world titles up for grabs on the undercard at Lightweight and Super Bantamweight respectively.
At Super Bantam, two men put their unbeaten records on the line, as Raeese Aleem (17-0, KO11) meets Vic Pasillas (16-0, KO9).
Aleem was last seen in August of 2020, in a rematch win against Marcus Bates. In their original meeting, Aleem took a wide eight round points win, but this time around, he stopped Bates in ten one sided sessions.
Pasillas didn’t get paid for overtime either in his most recent outing, as he knocked out Ranfis Javier Encarnacion in six rounds back in September 2020.
These two are well matched, but I lean towards the slightly more experienced Aleem to take a win on the cards in this one.
The Lightweight attraction sees unbeaten Las Vegas native, and interim WBA champion, Rolando Romero (12-0, KO10) in action, and he takes on Justin Pauldo (14-1, KO7).
Romero won the belt in his last fight, taken past six rounds for the very first time, and having to go the full twelve to take a points win over the unbeaten Jackson Marinez in August 2020.
Pauldo suffered an early career split decision loss in 2015, but is unbeaten in nine since then, although there was a no contest in July 2019, where Pauldo was knocked out in three by Austin Dulay.
That bout was changed to a no contest, and Romero has two wins since, the last an eight round points win over Josec Ruiz in August.
‘Rolly’ should be able to take this one widely on the scorecards.
Former IBF Super Flyweight champion, McJoe Arroyo (18-3, KO8) has lost three of his last four starts, and he moves to Super Bantamweight to face Sharone Carter (11-3, KO3) over eight rounds. Arroyo should get the job done inside schedule.