Angelo Leo vs. Stephen Fulton: Young Guns, Big Challenge

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It's a battle between two hungry, undefeated rising stars when Angelo Leo defends his world 122-pound title versus Stephen Fulton Jr. in the main event of an epic triple-header Saturday night on SHOWTIME.

This Saturday, January 23, live from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), SHOWTIME Championship Boxing and Premier Boxing Champions kick off 2021 with a night of world class boxing featuring young talents on the verge of next-level stardom. 

In the main event of this three-fight card, newly-crowned WBO World Junior Featherweight Champion Angelo Leo (20-0, 9 KOs) meets top contender and rising star Stephen Fulton Jr. (18-0, 8 KOs) in a battle of prime, undefeated 26-year-olds. 

On the televised undercard, another pair of undefeated junior featherweights – Ra’eese Aleem and Victor Pasillas – clash for the interim WBA 122-pound belt. In the SHOWTIME opener, undefeated interim WBA World Lightweight Champion Rolando Romero faces Avery Sparrow in a 12-round, non-title affair.

The Story

Angelo Leo, a Mayweather Promotions product, delivered a breakthrough performance in winning the vacant WBO title back in August against tricky late-replacement Tramaine Williams. "El Chinito" wants to build on that showing and cross over to stardom with a win over the highly-regarded Fulton. 

Stephen Fulton Jr. was supposed to be facing Leo for the vacant title instead of Williams, but a positive COVID-19 test cost him that opportunity and temporarily derailed his world title aspirations. However, the proud Philadelphia fighter, regarded as one of the top young talents in the game, is eager to get back into the ring and bring a world title to a fight capital currently without a world champ. 

The Stakes

At stake is Leo's WBO world junior featherweight title and a spot at the top of an increasingly interesting 122-pound division.

The Matchup

Leo showcased true grit in his title winning effort last fight, delivering a tenacious, focused, pressure-heavy performance against Tramaine Williams. Although closely contested for the first half of the bout, Leo gradually began to seize control and, by the end of the contest, there was little doubt as to who won the fight.

The Albuquerque native has a solid overhand right and a good left hook. He also has a quality jab when he chooses to employ it. The star of his recent performances, however, has been his body attack and he applied it expertly in his title-winning effort. 

Leo has shown an ability to work angles and he uses that ring sense to aid him on defense, although he's hardly a defensive wizard.

Fulton is clinical by nature and mature beyond his years, showing an aptitude for sizing up opposition and exploiting weaknesses. A high level of opposition on the way up may explain some of that maturity—with this Leo matchup, he'll be facing his eighth undefeated opponent in a six-year, 18-fight pro career. Sparring and training out of the James Shuler Boxing Gym in West Philadelphia has also surely contributed to his advanced mindset.

Fulton has good all-around reflexes with quick hands and solid balance. His jab is stellar and a potential fight-controller. The right hand behind the jab is a potent offensive tool, whether employed as a looping shot or a quick, straight blast. Unlike many clinical, cerebral fighters, he does let his hands go. He's absolutely not reluctant to put shots together at the right time.

Defensively, Fulton is solid and depends on his reflexes and ring IQ to stay out of trouble. He can be hit, though, and has been touched when opening up to press an attack.

January 23 is going to be fireworks. Undefeated Super Bantamweight Contender - Stephen Fulton Jr.

The Words

Angelo Leo

"I know Fulton is coming to fight and I’m coming to fight too. This is going to be one of the best fights of the year and I can’t wait for you all to see it.

"Being 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. My mentality is the same now that I’m world champion and I’m gunning for more world championships. I’m not the hunted. I’m still hunting."

Stephen Fulton Jr.

"January 23 is going to be fireworks.

"Going through the experience of having the fight against Leo cancelled 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. I’m ready to put on a show and I believe Leo will be ready to do the same."

The Breakdown

Fulton has the physical tools and ring seasoning to control the pace of the bout and establish a "land first" strategy. But it's in neither fighter's DNA to keep it cautious and calculated over the long haul. At some point, fireworks will erupt. 

What Leo lacks in raw speed and athleticism, he makes up for in toughness and tenacity. He'll push Fulton and, eventually, Fulton will push back. With neither fighter shy to let their hands go and both brimming with the confidence that comes with being young and undefeated, fierce skirmishes are guaranteed.

In this battle of upwardly-mobile warriors, the winner will be the one better able to execute his game plan and maintain grace under fire. Fulton could be that fighter if Leo's pressure doesn't grind him down. That's a big "if." 

Expect Fulton to try and outclass Leo, while Leo taps his Mexican fighting pride to impose his will with pressure and a thudding body attack. Chess will turn to war. Leo will have to prove that he can push through Fulton's polished skill set. Fulton will have to prove that he can flat-out fight. Both will be tested to the extreme Saturday night. The fans will reap the benefits of a bout pitting two young, prime undefeated fighters against one another in the biggest challenge of their respective careers.

For a closer look at Leo vs Fulton, check out our fight night page. 

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