Stephen Fulton Wins Skillful Dogfight Against Angelo Leo
By Caryn A. Tate on January 23, 2021
As the rounds went on, it was Fulton who really separated himself. (Photo: Amanda Wescott)
Saturday night on Showtime, Angelo Leo (20-1, 9 KOs) and Stephen Fulton (19-0, 8 KOs) faced off in a 12-rounder for Leo's WBO world super bantamweight title.
It was a tough fight for both men. Leo tends to fight in a pressure style, moving forward and crowding his opponent to fight on the inside. Fulton has typically fought in a stick-and-move way in the past, but tonight Leo forced him to fight in the pocket.
To his credit, Fulton met the challenge and proved he knows how to fight on the inside—a rare skill for many modern fighters. Some of the rounds were close and all were competitive.
But as the rounds went on, it was Fulton who really separated himself. He fought beautifully and skillfully on the inside, utilizing crafty, old-school tricks like using specific one-arm clinches to mitigate what his opponent wants to throw and using his forearm to achieve a little space when needed. He also did a great job pushing Leo backward to take the leverage out of Leo's shots.
Leo never stopped trying and showed incredible heart in a legitimately tough fight. He is a skillful fighter too, but he just wasn't able to fight on the same level as Fulton tonight.
The scores read 118-110 and 119-109, all for Fulton. They were surprisingly accurate cards, far too rare an occurrence in the sport.
In the second fight, Vic Pasillas (16-1, 9 KOs) faced Raeese Aleem (18-0, 12 KOs) in a 12-round super bantamweight contest.
Both fighters showed why they were undefeated coming in. The first round was competitive and could go either way. In the second, though, Aleem dropped Pasillas with a straight right that froze Pasillas in his tracks before going down. He made the count and the fight continued.
Aleem boxed well, using volume and an awkward, constantly moving style that the southpaw Pasillas seemed to have trouble with. Conversely, Aleem didn't seem to have any trouble with Pasillas being a southpaw.
In the 6th, Pasillas was dropped again from a hook high on top of the head. Again he made the count.
Aleem was hurt but fought back in the 9th. He caught Pasillas with a hook and down Pasillas went again, his glove touching the canvas.
In the 11th, Aleem's volume and awkwardness again proved to be a problem when he caught Pasillas with a nice right hand that dropped him for a fourth time. The referee immediately waved off the fight—it was the right call.
The card opened with lightweights Rolando Romero (13-0, 11 KOs) and Avery Sparrow (10-3, 3 KOs) in a 12-round bout.
Sparrow started out tentatively, a problem against a guy like Romero who packs a punch and likes to walk his opponent down. Sparrow didn't seem to have enough on his shots to make Romero respect him, and the problem was Sparrow also didn't seem to know how to get himself at an angle that would take the sting off Romero's punches. It resulted in a knockdown, achieved with Romero's left hook upstairs. More balance than anything, but it was clear Sparrow needed to change some things.
As the rounds progressed Romero seemed to allow Sparrow into the fight; not to say Sparrow didn't make an adjustment—he did start jabbing more and stood his ground more, both of which helped him have success. But Romero backed off.
In the 6th, Sparrow slipped and fell and appeared to injure his left knee. He rose and continued fighting, favoring the leg, and made it through the round. The 7th round started without Sparrow's corner stopping it—a potentially dangerous choice.
Oddly, Romero didn't go after Sparrow despite the latter only having one good leg. He chose to circle the ring and box at a slow, measured pace. Thankfully Sparrow's corner decided to go ahead and stop the bout, resulting in a TKO win for Romero.