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Boxing: Undefeated Leo set to fight in California

Angelo Leo is no stranger to the Los Angeles area, having lived, boxed as an amateur and gone to school there as a teenager.

Yet, when he steps into the ring Saturday night at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif., against Alberto Torres, Leo will be exploring new territory — and hoping for new conquest.

“I’m excited, because I lived in California for almost three years,” said Leo, an Albuquerque native who now lives and trains in Las Vegas, Nev. “I have a lot of fans out there that have been wanting to see me fight, and now’s their chance to see me.

“And here’s my opportunity to make some new fans.”

Leo (15-0, eight knockouts) turned pro after a highly successful amateur career in 2012 at age 18. Six of his first seven bouts were in New Mexico, the other just across the state line in Ignacio, Colo.

At that point, though, opportunities here dried up. He fought three times in Mexico — his father, Miguel, is a native — before moving to Las Vegas.

There, training at the Mayweather gym, he caught the eye of the staff there, and eventually of Floyd Jr. Leo signed with Mayweather Promotions in 2017, and his past five bouts have been in Las Vegas on Mayweather-promoted cards.

Saturday’s card, headed by a WBA junior lightweight title fight between champion Gervonta Davis and challenger Hugo Ruiz, is a co-promotion between Mayweather and TGB (Tom Brown) Promotions, under the auspices of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.

Haymon, often called the most powerful man in boxing, is a longtime friend and adviser to Mayweather Jr. He has more than 160 boxers under contract, including Las Cruces junior middleweight Austin Trout.

The Davis-Ruiz fight is the headliner of a card to be televised on Showtime. It’s unlikely Leo’s bout will make the telecast, but Saturday’s bout nonetheless is a see-and-be-seen opportunity for the 24-year-old boxer.

That opportunity will be forfeited, of course, if Leo doesn’t win. Torres (11-1-3, four KOs), of Sacramento, Calif., brings solid credentials. He’s seven years older than Leo, having turned pro at 26. His only loss came by split decision against Erick Iruarte, who was 17-1-1 at the time and is 20-1-1.

Torres is left-handed, and Leo has faced only one other southpaw as a pro — and that fight, against Glenn Porras last October, lasted less than one round before Leo flattened the Filipino fighter with a left hook to the liver.

Mayweather Promotions has not babied Leo on the way up. His five previous opponents entered those bouts with a combined record of 91-26. Torres, Leo said, might be the best he’s faced.

“It’s gonna be another tough fight,” he said. “He’s southpaw, so it’s gonna be interesting to see how I adjust to it. But we’ve been practicing really good for southpaws, and I know I’m 100 percent ready for what he brings to the table.

“If he brings something (unexpected), we’ve got answers for that, too.”

Leo and his father live full time in Las Vegas, but the New Mexico connection remains unbroken. Albuquerque trainer Luís Chavez and his son, Rudy, will be in his corner Saturday night.

This bout will be contested at the featherweight limit of 126 pounds, but Leo said he intends to compete principally at super bantamweight (122).