Angelo Leo on peak form for Aaron Alameda, targets Fulton rematch and Akhmadaliev
Former junior featherweight world titlist Angelo Leo did not sugar coat his feeling when asked about how it has been dealing with his first defeat. He admitted it was difficult.
“It has been pretty tough because it’s my first loss and I hadn’t lost in eight years since the amateurs, so it was a tough pill to swallow,” Leo told The Ring on Monday. “But once the smoke cleared and all that, I was able to focus on the future and focus on getting the title back and winning from now on.”
It was only last August when Leo won the vacant WBO 122-pound world title by lopsided decision – 118-110, 118-110, 117-111 – over late replacement Tramaine Williams at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut in the main event of the first Showtime card when the network brought boxing back during the coronavirus pandemic.
Leo was supposed to face Stephen Fulton for the vacant belt but Fulton tested positive for COVID-19 when he arrived on site to begin fight week and was removed from the card. He was replaced by Williams, who had been on standby just in case such an issue arose with either main event fighter, and Leo and Williams knew that the winner’s first defense would be a mandatory against Fulton.
With Fulton fully recovered from his bout with the virus, he and Leo met on Jan. 23, also at Mohegan Sun Arena on Showtime, and Fulton dominated. He took the title by scores of 119-109, 119-109 and 118-110 to leave Leo as a former titleholder after just five months with the belt.
Now, Leo is set to return from his lone defeat against Aaron Alameda in the opening bout of a tripleheader topped by Jermall Charlo’s WBC middleweight title defense against Juan Macias Montiel on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/PT) at the Toyota Center in Charlo’s hometown of Houston.
The 27-year-old Leo (20-1, 9 KOs), an Albuquerque, New Mexico, native fighting out of Las Vegas, admitted that he went into the fight with Fulton perhaps underestimating him a bit and was armed with only one plan.
“For the Fulton fight we had one game plan and we were set on that,” Fulton said. “It was to make it rough in there for him. Go in there and fight him at close quarters. Everyone that knows me knows I am not a one-dimensional fighter. I do have some traits of the Mexican style as a Mexican fighter, but I do got some boxing ability and angles and lateral movement as well. I got different looks. Those are things I should have applied in that fight.”
Leo also said that he was hampered by having had COVID-19 not long before the fight and issues making 122 pounds due to his own stubbornness.
“I think there were a few factors in that fight, one being I had Covid,” Leo said. “I had Covid five weeks prior to the fight. I thought I could recover. I didn’t really feel those symptoms but they creep up on you and Covid hits people differently. It hit me differently. That could be a factor.
“One thing was the weight – didn’t diet the way I should have. I should have listened to my corner a little more as far as them telling me to get a nutritionist and a strength and conditioning coach and all that, but I had figured I won the world title without one so I could do it again. But, you know, you live and you learn. As you can see when I fight I have a lot of endurance but in the sixth round I was kind of gassed already.”
Leo said he is now fully recovered from COVID-19 and has approached his weight loss better for the fight with Alameda.
“I’m feeling good. I had six months to recover since the fight. I cleared my head, my body feels great,” Leo said. “I hired a strength and conditioning coach and now I’m feeling good and I’m ready to show the world that I am still a top dog in the division.”
He will have to get through Mexico’s Alameda (25-1, 13 KOs), a 27-year-old southpaw and former amateur standout.
“We’ve been getting a lot of southpaw sparring,” Leo said. “I’ve fought some southpaws in my career. Tramaine Williams was a southpaw, so I’m no stranger to southpaws. This fight we’ve got some tricks up our sleeve, things we’ve been working on to combat his southpaw style.”
Alameda is also coming off his first defeat. He dropped a competitive unanimous decision to former WBC bantamweight titleholder Luis Nery for the vacant WBC junior featherweight title on Sept. 26 on a Showtime PPV undercard at Mohegan Sun.
Although they are both coming off losses, Leo believes he is the hungrier fighter with more to prove.
“This is my career and I can prove to everyone I am still a top contender,” he said. “I want to prove to everyone I belong in this division and I can get that world title back. It would mean the world to me to show that I can lift myself up from a loss and become a world champion once again.”
Leo has watched Alameda’s fight with Nery and came away from the viewing believing he is a formidable opponent.
“I did watch him. He’s a solid competitor,” Leo said. “He’s coming to fight. We both got a chip on our shoulder. We’re both trying to get back on that winning track. I know he’s going to bring it and I’m going to bring it, so it’s gonna be a great fight.”
If all goes well for Leo, he is hopeful he will land another title bout before too long.
Fulton and Brandon Figueroa are set to unify their WBO and WBC belts in a Showtime main event on Sept. 11 and Leo would like to fight the winner, especially if it’s Fulton. He also has eyes on IBF/WBA titleholder Murodjon Akhmadaliev, although that is a more difficult fight to make because he is with a rival promoter and broadcaster.
“The goal is to get a world title once again. It doesn’t matter if it’s Fulton or Figueroa,” Leo said. “There’s also Akhmadaliev. Of course, I would like that rematch with Fulton, but we could also go on different avenues – other champions or possibly move up to 126. We’ll see.”
Charlo vs. Montiel, Leo vs. Alameda, and other undercard action, will be broadcast by Showtime in the U.S.
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