The undefeated 122-pound world champions will face off as WBC Champion Brandon “Heartbreaker” Figueroa and WBO Champion Stephen “Cool Boy Steph” Fulton Jr. meet at the SHOWTIME Main Event on Saturday, September 18 during a Premier Boxing Champions event from Park Theater at Park MGM in Las Vegas.
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING will begin at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT and feature undefeated super bantamweight contender Ra’eese Aleem battling Mexican Eduardo Baez in the 10-round main co-event.
Opening the broadcast, undefeated bantamweight contender Gary Antonio Russell faces Mexican Alejandro Barrios in a 10-round showdown.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.
“This night of high-stakes action is featured by two undefeated young stars in one of the most anticipated fights of the year.” said Tom Brown, president of TGB Promotions. “The winner of this fight will not only hold the mantle as the best in the division, but will have a case as one of the best pound-for-pound rising stars in the sport. With Ra’eese Aleem and Gary Antonio Russell also on the card, the future of the sport will take center stage on September 18.
The three-fight boxing event will open SHOWTIME’s double combat sports schedule on September 18. Immediately following the main event in Las Vegas, BELLATOR MMA will be broadcast live from San Jose, Calif., With a three-fight event led by light and heavy contenders Phil Davis and Yoel Romero.
Figueroa vs. Fulton has loomed as a potential showdown for several years before the two undefeated fighters joined the ranks of the World Championship with the best career performances in 2021. Fulton struck first, towering over then undefeated Angelo Leo to win the WBO title in January, while Figueroa made his own statement barring two-division champion Luis Nery from capturing the WBC bracelet in May.
Figueroa, 24 (22-0-1, 17 KOs), used his youth and relentless pressure to become the first person to defeat Nery in their Championship clash on SHOWTIME. Figueroa’s body attack made the difference, as he was able to stand up against Nery’s offense and ultimately overwhelm him to win the knockout. A native of Weslaco, Texas, Figueroa added to his family’s legacy by winning the world title, joining his brother Omar Figueroa who previously held the world lightweight championship. Figueroa has beaten a slew of veteran contenders on his way to championship status, knocking out Moises Flores, Oscar Escandon and Damien Vazquez on his rise.
“We train hard for every fight and make sure to go 110% on fight night,” Figueroa said. “I expect Fulton to be flashy and skillful with his moves, and maybe he might want to mix them up a bit too, so we’re up to anything.” People know I always come to fight and since this is my second consecutive fight against another undefeated world champion it makes for an exciting fight on paper and it should be even more exciting to see it live on the 18th September.
Born and raised in West Philadelphia, Pa., Fulton (19-0, 8 KOs) faced impressive competition as he climbed the 122-pound rankings to earn the opportunity that ultimately saw him become the World Champion on SHOWTIME in beating Leo. In his last 13 professional fights, the 27-year-old has beaten eight previously undefeated fighters, including Leo, Josh Greer, Arnold Khegai, Adam Lopez and Luis Saul Rosario. Trained in his hometown by trainer Wahid Rahim, Fulton displayed sublime boxing skills that allowed him to dominate opponents of varying styles and control fights from start to finish.
“We will have a new king of the division on a historic day,” said Fulton. “The training camp was great, rough and dirty. I know where I need to be for this fight and I’m here not to run away from it. History will be written on September 18 on Mexico’s Independence Day weekend in Las Vegas. Let’s celebrate with a bang! “
Possessing a top 10 ranking at 122 pounds from several sanctioning bodies, Aleem (18-0, 12 KOs) put in the most impressive performance of his career in January to win the interim WBA title on SHOWTIME. Aleem dominated in an unbeaten battle, dropping Victor Pasillas four times before eventually stopping him in Round 11. Raised in Michigan and training in Las Vegas, Nevada, Aleem, 31, stopped his last seven opponents from a distance.
“It’s great to be back in action on SHOWTIME,” said Aleem. “I waited patiently, worked hard in the gym, and now it’s time to go. Eduardo Baez is a good fighter trying to make a name for himself, but he’s preventing me from becoming world champion, and I’m going to eliminate him. I’m on a mission to prove I’m the king of the super bantamweight division, and the journey continues on September 18th.
Baez, 26 (19-1-2, 6 KOs), will look to secure his career best win and build on back-to-back triumphs over previously undefeated fighters when he takes on Aleem on September 18. Baja California, Mexico, Baez is now fighting in Calexico, Calif. As he nears his second outing in the United States. Baez recently won a decision against Abimael Ortiz in March, after his US debut saw him defeat Narek Abgaryan in his US debut in December 2020.
“I’m looking forward to this opportunity against Ra’eese Aleem,” Baez said. “Success is the most precious treasure, the more you are willing to pay, the more valuable the price will be. I will win this fight and we will all scream “viva Mexico!”
Intermediate brother between WBC featherweight champion Gary Jr. and 2016 US Olympian Gary Antuanne Antonio Russell (18-0, 12 KOs) announced his arrival among the contenders for the bantamweight division with a technical decision on the former world champion Juan Carlos Payano in December 2020 on SHOW TIME. The 28-year-old from Capitol Heights, Md. Turned pro in 2015 after an impressive amateur career. After four wins in 2019, Russell kicked off 2020 by beating Jesus Martinez in February. Russell is returning to action after his August 14 fight against former champion Emmanuel Rodriguez ended in a no-decision in the first round due to a heads-up clash.
“I am delighted to be back after training so hard for my last fight before it ended early,” said Russell. “Now I just take the same fighting energy I had for Emmanuel Rodriguez and bring it on September 18th to my new opponent.”
Barrios, 25 (24-2-5, 13 KOs), has not been beaten since 2014, a streak of 20 consecutive fights. Representing his hometown of Tijuana, Mexico, Barrios have won their last eight games since a 2018 draw against Jerwin Ancajas in a 115-pound title fight. After beating Erick Hernandez and Willibaldo Garcia in 2020, Barrios knocked out Juan Gabriel Medina to start his 2021. In addition to the draw against Ancajas, Barrios fought the then undefeated Jose Martinez-Mercado to a draw twice while securing the same result against then undefeated Antonio Nieves.
“I want to thank my entire team and everyone who made this fight possible,” said Barrios. “It has been a long road for me. I was looking for another title fight or rematch with Ancajas, since our draw. We decided to upgrade to 118 pounds and I stayed focused and worked hard for the next opportunity. Now I can share the ring with a great and talented fighter in Gary Antonio Russell. On September 18, I will leave everything in this ring, I will have a great fight for all boxing fans and I will leave victorious. “