If 2020 ended with the rise of boxing’s lightweight division, than 2021 is expanding with the inclusion of the super featherweights.
The division that Gervonta “Tank” Davis, Miguel Berchelt, Jo Jo Diaz and Jamal Herring reinvigorated is setting off 2021.
WBO 122-pound World Champion Angelo Leo finally faces Stephen “Cool Boy” Fulton Jr., on Saturday, January 23rd 2021.
The bout is the main event of the first SHOWTIME Championship Boxing telecast of 2021 from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The event is under the Premier Boxing Champions banner and promoted by Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions.
Leo (20-0, 9 KOs), out of the rising Mayweather Promotions stable. He became the first world champion from his hometown of Albuquerque, N.M., since legendary three-division champion Johnny Tapia.
He gained his title when he defeated Tramaine Williams by unanimous decision in August.
Leo, 26, was originally scheduled to face Fulton for the vacant WBO junior featherweight world title that evening in the first SHOWTIME boxing event following the pandemic shutdown of the sport, but Fulton was forced to withdraw following a positive COVID-19 test.
“It’s been a crazy year for everyone but to say I walked out of 2020 a world champion is truly incredible and humbling,” said Leo. “I spent 16 years training for that moment to become a champion, and here I am, preparing for my next camp for my first defense top of 2021. My experiences with Floyd last camp going to really put me in a great position going into this fight.
“My father Miguel has been instrumental in keeping me grounded and reminding me that all of these fighters are eyeing my spot. My goal in 2021 is to remain champion and get more belts and Fulton is that next test.”
West Philly’s Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs) has faced impressive competition in his young career while rising up the 122-pound ranks.
He is currently rated No. 1 by the WBO. In his last 12 professional fights, Leo, 26, has taken the “0” from seven unbeaten fighters, including Josh Greer, Adam Lopez and Luis Saul Rosario.
Fulton’s two most recent wins are a knockout over Isaac Avelar in August 2019 before most recently scoring a dominant 12-round unanimous decision victory over Arnold Khegai in January.
“I feel like everything happens for a reason because I’m 10 times more ready now than I was the first time around, ” said Fulton. “I’m excited to fight for the title and I expect nothing but Angelo Leo to be himself and fight his fight on January 23.”
The show opener keeps the lightweight division bubbling as Mayweather fighter Rolando “Rolly” Romero takes on Justin Pauldo in a 12-round bout for Romero’s interim WBA title.
The combined ring record of the six fighters on the card is a remarkable 96 wins with just one loss.
Romero (12-0, 10 KOs) returns following his controversial unanimous decision victory over Jackson Marinez in August.
The 25-year-old captured the interim WBA lightweight title with that win and went the distance for just the second time in his professional career.
With the welterweights and heavyweights still dominating the boxing landscape, the lighter weight classes are growing as boxing’s future greats begin to mature.