Contender Ra’eese Aleem made his record identical to Gary Antonio Russell with a majority decision to move to 19-0 with 12 KOs.
After ten rounds of action, the top super bantamweight remained unbeaten by defeating Mexico’s Eduardo Baez (20-2-2, 7 KOs).
“I’m coming off a long lay-off, so I was a little bit rusty,” said Aleem. “I wanted to stop him. But he kept bringing it. I did what I had to do.”
Aleem showed off his versatile attack from the outset, flashing combinations combined with the consistent activity that would carry him throughout the ten rounds.
Baez proved to be a sturdy challenge. Despite loading up for big right hands throughout the fight, he could land and keep Aleem from overwhelming him.
Aleem switched between southpaw and orthodox stances during the action to varying success. Overall, he held a 232 to 111 advantage in punches landed.
Of those 232, Aleem connected on 90 body shots that helped him keep Baez at bay.
“I’m a dog,” said Aleem. “I ground it out, and I turned southpaw. And I got caught with some shots, but I hung in there.
“I can hang with anyone. It doesn’t matter who steps in there against me. I’m going to win.”
Baez fought valiantly through a cut on his forehead that opened up in the middle rounds due to an accidental headbutt.
In the ninth round, Aleem appeared to have Baez hurt with a counter right hand from the southpaw stance. He ended up holding on through round the ten rounds to win the decision with scores of 98-92, 96-94, and 95-95.
“He was a tough Mexican fighter. But I got the job done,” said Aleem. “I want the winner of the main event. They can run, but they can’t hide.”
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