We’re back! We’ve had no staff picks since the Garcia-Campbell fight that kicked off 2021, which didn’t get the year going well for three of the four of us. The other one, of course, was proven an indisputable genius.
Saturday night on Showtime (Jan. 23, 9 pm ET) we’ve got a 122-pound world title main event, as Angelo Fulton defends the WBO belt against Stephen Fulton Jr. This was meant to happen last August for the vacant title, but Fulton came down with COVID and had to pull out, leaving Leo to beat Tramaine Williams for the strap.
But now it’s back on and happening this weekend as the boxing schedule finally starts to get moving a bit.
Who wins? Our staffers make their picks.
I was going to go with Stephen Fulton Jr before this fight was canned the first time around, and I’m going with him again, but I think the fight is more competitive this time than I did last summer.
Leo may well be a better fighter than I thought before; I thought he was solid, but I really liked his performance against Williams. It wasn’t mega-flashy, he’s not a superstar in the making, but he’s a good, aggressive, tough fighter who can really do work if he gets inside. Getting inside on Fulton will be tough, though. The Philly fighter has one of the absolute best jabs in boxing — it’s heavy, fast, and he uses it as an actual weapon, not just to set up other stuff.
If Leo can neutralize that jab to some degree (he will not fully neutralize it, and I don’t think anyone at 122 can, either) and make his way into the phone booth, this could get really interesting. Neither of them are particularly big punchers, but I think Leo has a slight edge in power. But give me the great jab and actual slickness of Fulton to take this one on points, comfortably by score but earning it all the way. Fulton UD-12
Well, I picked Stephen Fulton to win this fight last time and I don’t see any real reason for me to go back on that at this point. I still think Fulton’s slick style is going to pose serious problems for Leo, whose best hope will be to force more of a firefight to get through and score consistently. With that being said, it’s really hard to judge a fighter’s current form considering all the down time we’ve been dealing with, but assuming both fighters are at their best, I just think Fulton is more dynamic.
The biggest problem Fulton could face is that he really isn’t much of a big puncher, and if Leo can walk through some fire and steadily apply pressure he could start getting to Fulton. I think Leo might actually have a bit of success this way but I just think it’ll be too little, too late on the cards. I’m still taking Fulton to win a decision. Fulton UD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg
I definitely didn’t give Leo enough credit the first time I picked this fight; he took apart a guy in Tramaine Williams whom I really believed would give him all sorts of issues. Still, that performance isn’t enough to convince me that he gets past Fulton. “Cool Boy” is as slick as your simile of choice, and appears to boast a considerable edge in hand speed, head movement, and footwork. Leo’s definitely the stronger of the two in the pocket, but he has to actually get there first, which another close-quarters powerhouse in Arnold Khegai failed to do.
While Leo’s got a real chance if he can take Fulton’s legs away like he did Williams’, I just don’t see him doing so. Fulton’s too sharp to beat in an outfight and his combination of quality footwork and dangerous counters will keep Leo from getting any sort of protracted infight. Fulton controls things form the outside to claim the WBO title. Fulton UD-12
Opinions change overnight in boxing – I am no different. Back in July, we picked this fight before COVID-19 decided to scrap it, and I went with a tight Leo win on the cards.
“Leo times his left hand well, works well to the body and has underrated power possibly disguised by his record,” was edging me towards “El Chinito”, with Fulton’s claim of Leo being an “easy fight” whilst simultaneously stating he won’t be overlooking him not sitting right with me.
Fast-forward six months and Fulton has now been out of the ring for just shy of a year. You’ve gotta read something into that in a fight that is expected to be decided by such fine margins. He does everything well – his rapid jab and fast feet will be a real weapon if Leo struggles to close the distance.
It’s a great fight. A coin toss. A pick ‘em. I think Fulton especially has a bright future in the sport, but this test may come a little too soon against a solid pressure fighter with fantastic work rate. I’m going balls to the wall in 2021 Staff Picks – let’s see if we can nail an early draw (14/1!) Majority Draw