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Boxing: Leo loses fight, title

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Philadelphia’s Stephen Fulton Jr., firmly establishing himself over 12 brutal rounds as the stronger man and the more skilled boxer, defeated Albuquerque’s Angelo Leo by unanimous decision Saturday night in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Leo lost both the fight and the WBO super bantamweight title he’d won in August. The Albuquerque native, tasting defeat for the first time as a professional, is 20-1 with nine knockouts.

In something of a surprise, Fulton (19-0, eight KOs) fought Leo’s fight — banging away at close quarters — for most of the bout and for the most part had the better of it.

The official scorecards were decisive for Fulton: 118-110, 119-109 and 119-109. Most the rounds themselves were competitive, but Leo did not win a round after the fourth on any of the three official cards.

Miguel Leo, his son’s head trainer, told his son after the 10th and 11th rounds that he needed a knockout to win. But the younger Leo could not deliver.

The fight had been billed as a boxer-vs.-puncher proposition, with Leo cast as the bull and Fulton as the matador. But from the opening bell, Fulton showed both the willingness and the capacity to match Leo’s aggressiveness inside.

Leo had some good moments early, and appeared to hurt Fulton with a left to the body in the fourth round. But Fulton, the bigger and more muscular fighter, gradually took control — mixing in left jabs thrown from a distance with his work inside.

“Probably around like the fifth, sixth round, that’s when I saw him start breathing a little heavy,” Fulton said afterward.

Of Leo, Fulton said, “He’s a tough fighter. He’s a good kid, a good person. I take my hat off to him. He came, showed up, (but) I was the better man.”

Saturday’s bout was a long time in the making.

Leo and Fulton were to have met for the then-vacant WBO title in August, but Fulton was diagnosed with COVID-19. Leo instead defeated late replacement Tramaine Williams for the title.

Leo was scheduled to defend against Fulton in December, but Leo then was infected with the virus — setting up Saturday’s showdown.

In the evening’s semi-main event, Michigan native Raeese Aleem (18-0, 12 KOs) burnished his resume as a challenger for Fulton’s newly won title with a victory by 11th-round TKO over Californian Vic Pasillas (16-1, nine KOs).

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