Raeese Aleem would rather box in an empty arena than not fight at all. Muskegon’s “The Beast” is just happy to have another fight amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the opportunity to get closer to a world title shot.
The undefeated super bantamweight, who now lives and trains in Las Vegas, will make his second TV appearance on Showtime this Saturday night. Aleem (16-0, 10 KOs) will face undefeated compatriot Tramaine “The Mighty Midget” Williams (19-0, 6 KOs) in a world title eliminator from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, where fans will not be allowed. due to COVID restrictions.
The Aleem-Williams fight is a joint main event feature between Stephen Fulton Jr. (18-0, 8 KOs) and Angelo Leo (19-0, 9 KOs) for the vacant WBO Junior Featherweight World Championship. The other co-function pits Joe George (10-0, 6 KOs) and Marcos Escudero II (10-1, 9 KOs) in a light heavyweight clash. Action is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Saturday on Showtime.
Aleem’s fight, a scheduled 10 round, will be his first since the start of the pandemic. February 14th, he had a smashing television debut with a fourth round TKO from San Antonio’s Adam Lopez as a co-feature for Showtime’s “ShoBox: The New Generation”. Saturday’s event will be the first live boxing show on Showtime since March 13.
“I wasn’t even sure I intended to fight again this year. Many fighters will have the chance to fight this year (due to COVID restrictions). They really only fight the best fighters, so I’m happy to be in this group and in this conversation, ”Aleem said in a phone interview with MLive.
“It will be a little different because as a fighter you can sometimes feed off the energy of the crowd and things like that – for any sport, be it basketball, soccer, boxing. I don’t think it’s going to have an impact on me because it’s going to continue as usual, but it will be a little different: walking into an empty arena with just me and the guy looking at me from the other side of the ring. .
According to BoxRec.com, Aleem is ranked No. 24 in the world in the super bantamweight division (122 pounds). Williams is ranked No. 15, while Fulton and Leo are No. 7 and 9 respectively. Among the US fighters in their division, Aleem is ranked No. 8 while Williams is No. 7.
Aleem, 30, is a 2009 Muskegon High School alumnus who practically grew up in Ravenna and also dated Oakridge for a time. He’s a humble guy and he embraces the outsider mentality, but he’s also confident in his abilities.
The 5-foot-6 Aleem, a right-hander with a 63½-inch reach, will have two inches on his opponent. Williams, 27, from New Haven, Connecticut – located about 45 minutes from the venue of Saturday’s fight – is a southpaw with a reach of 68 inches. This is the first fight for Williams since his 10-round victory over veteran contender Yenifel Vicente last July.
“It’s a huge, huge opportunity. I’m passing this fight, my next fight will be for a world title, but even having this fight – being able to fight for a world title eliminator – it’s a huge, huge opportunity and I’m blessed for that, ”says Aleem.
“(Williams is) a great fighter. You know he’s undefeated, he’s a dog, quick hands, quick feet, he’s really smart. You know, his CV speaks for itself. This is going to be the toughest fight of my career, my toughest test yet, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I’m excited about it. I don’t just want to win, I want to dominate. For me, beating a guy like this is going to really elevate my career. “
Aleem is trained by Bobby McRoy and promoter by Marshall Kauffman of Kings Promotions. In Muskegon, Aleem worked for several years with longtime trainer Terry Markowski, whom he considers to be the biggest influence of his boxing career.
Being from a small town like Muskegon, Aleem had to scratch and seize opportunities while remaining patient at the same time. He noticed his career started to take off after moving to Las Vegas, the boxing mecca in 2017.
Aleem appears to have a lot of momentum for Saturday night’s fight. He intends to continue driving.
“It’s taken since I turned pro to get to this moment now. It’s been tough, but it’s fight after fight after fight, getting better and better – doing performances like I did in February and all that. It’s been hard, but it’s worth it. Lots of preparation, a lot of focus and really never giving up, ”he said.
“Every fighter is trying to fight on the big stage, you know, to fight in front of thousands, millions of people; be able to fight for a world title eliminator; be able to fight for a world title; be able to fight 10 rounds, 12 rounds. You know, that’s what every fighter strives to achieve, but not every fighter is able to get there. Only the best fighters can really do it, and then they can excel. He feels good. I’m just ready for war.