For unbeaten junior featherweight Angelo Leo, it was new opponent and no problem on Saturday in Showtime Championship Boxing's first telecast since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in March.
Leo (20-0, 9 KOs) used his aggression and body punching to outwork Tramaine Williams en route to a unanimous decision (117-111, 118-110, 118-110) inside the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. More importantly, the 26-year-old Leo captured the WBO title at 122 pounds that was recently vacated by Emmanuel Navarette.
"It feels good. It still hasn't sunken in yet," Leo said. "It feels surreal."
Originally scheduled to face fellow unbeaten Stephen Fulton Jr. (18-0, 8 KOs), Leo was forced to alter his game plan on on just three days' notice when Fulton tested positive for COVID-19 and withdrew from the fight. Williams (19-1, 6 KOs) moved up from the undercard to save the main event and presented Leo with the challenge of having to face the fourth southpaw over his past seven fights.
It didn't take long for Leo, who is promoted by Floyd Mayweather, to figure things out. After Williams, 27, boxed beautifully from the outside in the opening two rounds, Leo began to close distance with ease and make his opponent fight on his own terms.
"The first few rounds, I was just feeling him out and getting his timing," Leo said. "I felt him kind of loosening up and breaking down, and that's when I started putting pressure on him."
After consistently forcing Wiliams into a phone booth fight, Leo's relentless body punching turned out to be the difference in him banking rounds and pulling away with relative ease.
"That was the key factor in this fight -- the body work," Leo said. "I came here to take a world title and win a world title, and that's exactly what I did. Boxing is the ultimate truth teller. It detects all lives in there once you get in that ring. In there, it showed my mental fortitude, how tough I am in there and how I can adapt."
The victory saw Leo come full circle just a few years removed from the days of him driving to Las Vegas and sleeping in his car after training at the Mayweather Gym. It also ended a similar feel-good bid for Williams, of New Haven, Connecticut, who entered the fight having won four straight just two years after being released from prison.
Leo also joined Johnny Tapia, Danny Romero and Holly Holm as the lone boxing world champions to hail from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
"I'm pretty sure they are celebrating, for sure," Leo said. "They have four world champions in that city and I think I made history there."
Fulton, 26, will still get his shot at Leo's title after being named the mandatory top contender by the WBO. When asked about his next fight, Leo promised it will be memorable.
"Just be ready, just be ready. We are going to make it a war," Leo said. "He said he's going to bring it and I'm going to bring it. The fans want it so why not bring it on?"
A native of Philadelphia, Fulton happily agreed during an interview late Saturday on the Showtime telecast.
"I'm ready for whatever, but just be ready to face me when it's time. That's all I have to say," Fulton said. "Even though it's not me, I'm honored to watch someone else fulfill their dream. So I'm happy for him, but when it's my time, I'm coming."