Ra’eese Aleem is approaching the biggest fight of his life, an IBF super bantamweight eliminator in Australia, which will serve as the co-main event to Tim Tszyu versus Carlos Ocampo, against fellow unbeaten contender, Sam Goodman.
Though Aleem is excited about the opportunity, he still has some lingering resentment it seems to Stephen Fulton Jr., the unified super bantamweight world champion, who holds the WBO and WBC world titles. Aleem was vocal about fighting Fulton Jr., last year, and the bout never happened. Now Fulton Jr. is facing one of the best fighters in the world, the three-division world champion, Naoya Inoue, who recently relinquished his undisputed bantamweight championship last year, weeks after winning all the titles.
“It depends on what makes sense,” said Aleem when asked if he would face Fulton Jr. in the future. “There were multiple opportunities for me and Fulton [to fight]. [We] could’ve, would’ve, and should’ve fought, and he choose to go in another direction. Yeah, it is possibility [SIC], if he loses to Inoue and I beat Tapales, and all of a sudden, he wants a shot at the title. [I will tell him] he is going to have to sit on the back burner and wait for that.”
Aleem feels frustrated given that Fulton had a chance to fight him in the past yet has gone in other directions. Though it is clear no one can doubt the heart of Fulton Jr., as he is now fighting a potential future hall-of-famer in Naoya Inoue, who could be the hardest fight in the division.
Obviously, that isn’t Stephen Fulton Jr.’s nickname, but it is a play on one of Fulton’s various nicknames as Fulton will refer to himself as ‘Cool Boy Steph’. Aleem seemingly took a playful dig at a fighter he feels was unwilling to grant him an opportunity.
As for Aleem, who uprooted his life from Michigan to Las Vegas, Nevada, traveling to Australia is just another part of the journey, for him. As Aleem came to the fight capital of the world with simply a dream, now that dream has turned into a desire to become a world champion. Entering seemingly hostile grounds, and facing a stablemate of Tim Tszyu, Sam Goodman, who is also signed to No Limit Boxing is just the next step he sees in his evolution.
“It is a great feeling [the position I am in the sport], it is a testament to all my handwork and sacrifice,” said Aleem. “Moving to Las Vegas, without a trainer, a gym, or anything. I just kind of found my way through the maze, making a name for myself, and making things happen. It does feel good, but it will feel a whole lot better when I win the world title.”