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Angelo Leo intends to intends to show Stephen Fulton Jr and remaining doubters that he’s “here to stay”

The young titlist wants to show he’s here to stay in Showtime’s Jan. 23 main event.

Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Angelo Leo’s first world title defense is just 10 days away, as the 26-year-old WBO junior featherweight titleholder will put his belt on the line against Stephen Fulton Jr, the man he was supposed to face for the then-vacant belt last August.

Fulton tested positive for COVID ahead of that fight, and was replaced by Tramaine Williams, who was beaten soundly by Leo. It was expected then that Leo-Fulton would be rescheduled, now for Leo’s belt, and that is the case, as it headlines the first edition of “Showtime Championship Boxing” for 2021.

Like Fulton (18-0, 8 KO), Leo expects a good fight when the two finally square off, believing their contrasting styles will make for “one of the best fights of the year.” He’s also neither taken aback by nor concerned with Fulton being a slight betting favorite.

“I’m not surprised at all that Vegas has Fulton as the slight favorite. I know that he has a lot of supporters,” Leo said. “I’ve been an underdog before. I’ve been in these shoes before, so it’s no surprise to me. It just gives me more fuel for the fire. I’m not at all offended that he’s the favorite. This is boxing and Fulton is a good fighter, but I’m looking to prove that I’m where I belong and that I’m world champion for a reason.”

Leo (20-0, 9 KO) believes he has some style advantages, and also that he may be able to surprise people by showing elements he hasn’t in the past.

“I’m known for throwing a lot of body punches and for my pressure. That’s no secret. I feel like people haven’t seen all of me yet,” he said. “I have a lot to prove. I still have a lot of looks to show and I think Stephen Fulton will bring that all out of me. I think it’s important, in every fight, to go to the body. Like they say, go to the body and the head will fall, but if he wants to move around and put pressure, I have a remedy for all that.”

Leo also isn’t ignoring the pressures of being a champion, and that he doesn’t want to lose that challenger mind set.

“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. They say that once you’re champion, it’s actually harder. As bad as you want it, now everybody else wants it just as bad as you do. 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.

It’s clear that Leo, even if he says he doesn’t mind it, at least has a little chip on his shoulder about being the listed betting underdog in the matchup, and that he’s aiming to prove something with this fight.

“With this performance I want to let everybody know that I’m here to stay,” he said. “I think a lot of people are doubting me just because I fought Tramaine Williams and they say he just had three days’ notice. But he was getting ready for a fight as well. I have a lot of doubters that I want to prove wrong and in this fight, I think I’ll have the opportunity to.”

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