Junior featherweight boxer Angelo Leo used to read boxing magazines as a child in his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, hoping to one day become a world champion.
It turns out that day was Saturday.
Leo coasted to a 118-110, 118-110, 117-111 victory over Tramaine Williams to claim the vacant WBO junior featherweight championship at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The fight was presented by Premier Boxing Champions and capped Showtime’s first card amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Leo, 26, moved to Las Vegas in 2017 and is signed to the Southern Nevada-based Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s Mayweather Promotions.
“I had to make a statement in this fight that I belong in this weight class and that I’m definitely a threat in this weight class,” Leo said via teleconference with the belt draped over his left shoulder.
Leo (20-0, nine knockouts) was originally schedule to fight Stephen Fulton Jr., but faced the 27-year-old Williams (19-1, six KOs) of New Haven, Connecticut, instead because Fulton tested positive for the virus. He adjusted on the fly, though, and wore the southpaw down over 12 rounds by working on the inside — landing 248 punches to Williams’ 196.
“In Floyd Mayweather’s boxing gym, they have a post in there that says a true champion can adapt to anything,” said Leo, who specializes in body punches. “I always live by those words.”
Leo will make his first defense against Fulton sometime in the next 180 days as mandated by the WBO.
He insists he’ll be ready.
“The fans want it. I want it. He wants it,” Leo said. “Why not make it happen?”
Fellow junior featherweight Raeese Aleem (17-0, 11 KOs) also scored a key victory in the co-feature, stopping Marcus Bates (11-2-1, eight KOs) 2:18 into the 10th round of their WBA title eliminator to win by technical knockout.
The 30-year-old Aleem also lives in Las Vegas and seized control of the fight in the second round. He used a powerful left hook to buoy combinations, and was particularly proficient to the body — to which he landed 71 punches to stymie the 26-year-old Washington D.C. native.
Aleem finished with 193 total punches to Bates’ 86, and is positioning himself to compete for his first world title.
“If anybody wants to step up, I’ve got the pen and I’m ready to sign a contract any time that fight is available. ” said Aleem, who also beat Bates in April of 2018. “I’m ready for the big fights and I’m ready for any world title fight that’s possible to make right now.”