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Leo vs Fulton results and highlights: Stephen Fulton Jr wins first world title, Ra’eese Aleem and Rolando Romero dominate

Stephen Fulton Jr won his first world title, and Ra’eese Aleem and Rolando Romero picked up strong undercard wins on Showtime.

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

Stephen Fulton Jr picked up his first world title, claiming the WBO junior featherweight title with a wide but competitive win over Angelo Leo in tonight’s action-packed, grueling Showtime main event.

Fulton (19-0, 8 KO) took the W and the belt on scores of 118-110, 119-109, and 119-109 from the official judges. Bad Left Hook had it 118-110 on Wil Esco’s card, and 119-109 on my card. It was a clear-cut victory for the 26-year-old Philly fighter, but Leo (20-1, 9 KO) definitely fought his heart out all the way, he just wasn’t the better man in this one.

What doomed Albuquerque’s Leo, also 26, was that he found no real estate where he had a clear advantage. Fulton is well-known for a heavy, fast, sharp jab, and we saw that used very effectively throughout the fight, with Fulton rather easily able to control distance when he wanted. That was expected.

Less expected was Fulton fighting as much in the trenches as he did, as that figured to be Leo’s domain. And Leo did fight well inside with Fulton, but Fulton was no slouch in close, either; at best for Leo, the inside exchanges were about 50/50, and that just wasn’t enough. His corner were clear with him by the later rounds that he absolutely needed a knockout to win, but Leo is no big puncher, either, and the writing was on the wall. That said, he never gave up on the fight, and remains a real contender at 122.

The fight’s pace was astounding even if nothing overly dramatic happened, and Fulton in particular showed a crazy impressive gas tank, throwing a total of 1,183 punches, which dwarfed Leo’s own big output of 810 punches thrown. And Fulton wasn’t loading up on that early, either. He never threw less than 79 punches in a round, by CompuBox count, and in the last three rounds of the fight, he was still throwing 81, 109, and 88 punches. He threw over 100 punches in four rounds overall, including 104 in the second, 123 in the fifth, and 129 in the sixth.

Fulton landed 364 of those 1,183 (31%) total punches, and 320 of 913 (35%) power shots. Leo landed 262 of 810 (32%) overall, and 238 of 688 (35%) power punches. Fulton’s 913 power punches thrown are the third-most in 122-pound history for CompuBox-counted fights, and the combined 1,601 power punches thrown also comes in third in CompuBox division history.

Ra’eese Aleem TKO-11 Victor Pasillas

Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

This was an interesting matchup on paper, two guys with a lot to prove despite their unbeaten records. Aleem still has his, and frankly he pretty much dominated this fight start-to-finish, dropping Pasillas four times en route to the 11th round stoppage.

The win gives the 30-year-old Aleem (18-0, 12 KO) the interim WBA title at 122 pounds, and most importantly sticks him in line for possible WBA title fights. Right now their “super world” champion is Murodjon Akhmadaliev, who may fight Ryosuke Iwasa next, and the “world” champion is Brandon Figueroa, who may fight WBC titleholder Luis Nery next, which could see Figueroa vacate and Aleem be elevated.

Pasillas (16-1, 10 KO) was down in the second, sixth, ninth, and 11th rounds. The sixth round knockdown was maybe questionable, the left hook that clipped him may have landed more to the back of the head, but it wasn’t intentional and a tough live call for referee Danny Schiavone. But the second and 11th round knockdowns especially were heavy and real, and Aleem did excellent work all around in this fight. His awkward style and speed had Pasillas, 28, stuck trying to figure things out, and Pasillas never quite cracked the code.

Aleem really wasn’t a guy anyone had been paying attention to before he beat Adam Lopez by fourth round stoppage in Feb. 2020, then he stopped Marcus Bates in a rematch last August, and now this, his best performance to date. He was terrific here, and gave a good, talented fighter nightmares all night. Pasillas just couldn’t do much of anything with him, though he never stopped trying.

“I think a lot of people were sleeping on me and my power,” Aleem said. “I wasn’t surprised that I stopped him. I didn’t think he’d be able to go the distance with me. I think a lot of the fighters in this division should really be on notice. I wanted to knock him out. But I wasn’t necessarily trying to go for the knockout early. I was just seeing the openings and everything came together.”

Aleem says he doesn’t care who’s next, but he wants a big fight.

“Any current world champion that’s willing to fight, I’m ready. I’ve got the pen, send the contract. Whether that’s Brandon Figueroa, Akhmadaliev — he has two of the belts and is a tremendous fighter. He hasn’t defended his belts yet. Any one of those fights would be a great fight.”

We’ll see how Pasillas comes back from this, because this was a very tough night for him, mentally and physically. He took a beating here and just never figured Aleem out at all, despite his effort.

CompuBox had Aleem landing 185 of 561 (33%) total punches and 162 of 382 (42%) of his power shots. Pasillas landed 143 of 651 (22%) overall and 125 of 458 (27%) of his power punches. There was plenty of action here. Body shots heavily favored Aleem and made a difference, as he got in 64 compared to just 12 for Pasillas.

Rolando Romero TKO-7 Avery Sparrow

Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

Sparrow (10-3, 3 KO) came in on a day’s notice here, replacing Justin Pauldo who missed weight. Sparrow was a pound over the lightweight limit — he’d been on standby for weeks in case something happened — so Romero’s interim WBA lightweight title was not on the line, but it was still set for 12. Romero did not need 12.

The 25-year-old Romero (13-0, 11 KO) dropped the 27-year-old Sparrow in the opening round, and despite a game effort, Sparrow was just over-matched here, didn’t have the power to discourage the Mayweather Promotions prospect, and couldn’t keep Romero from digging in with heavy aggression basically whenever he wanted.

Sparrow did hang in there, but he didn’t win any rounds in this fight. When you count a two-point deduction in the sixth for an intentional low blow, we had Sparrow down 60-51 when his corner decided to pull the plug, and that’s about the only score you could have. The decision may have been more due to Sparrow seemingly hurting his knee in the sixth round than anything else.

Romero still has a lot to work on. He’s a younger fighter than his age, plods a bit, doesn’t have the big “skills,” but he’s for sure heavy-handed and is truly aggressive and confident, and those are things that can go a long way, not even counting how much he can still improve. He definitely looked better here than he did last year with Jackson Marinez, a fight pretty much everyone felt was a robbery decision in Romero’s favor.

CompuBox saw Romero landing 115 of 355 (32%) total punches, including a robust 49% (86 of 175) on his power shots, and he threw a lot of jabs, landing 29 of 180 (16%). Sparrow landed 40 of 279 (14%) total punches, including 30 of 175 (17%) power shots, so this was as statistically one-sided as it appeared watching the fight, too. Romero landed 33 body shots to Sparrow’s 10.

“The person that fought Jackson Marinez wasn’t me,” Romero said after the fight. “I had a bad camp, I didn’t do the things I was supposed to do. The big part, he fought scared and made it very difficult. Marinez was supposed to rematch me. He decided not to even though we offered more money.”

Romero also didn’t show much respect for Sparrow after all was said and done.

“With Sparrow, he fought like a coward. He just wanted a street fight because he knows he wasn’t going to do anything to me,” he said. “It came to low blows, hitting behind the head. His corner did the right thing by stopping it. In that last moment before they stopped the fight, he was hurt again and there was a lot of time left in the round. He’s lucky they stopped it. You guys said you want to see me box and you saw me box. At the end, his corner quit and he fought like a coward. I boxed good.”

Romero also called boxing a “toxic sport,” boxing fans “bipolar,” and said he wants a fight with WBC titleholder Devin Haney.

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