When Ra’eese Aleem moved to Las Vegas in 2017 to dedicate his full attention to boxing, he knew it came with no guarantee it would pay off.
Although Aleem was 10-0 as a pro in 2017, inactivity plagued his career. Still, he believed he made the right decision going all in on boxing.
“My career was at a standstill, I went two-and-a-half years without a fight and I was in the gym, training to get fights, but I couldn’t catch a break. I specifically moved to Vegas to pursue my career. I always believed in myself and when I moved to Vegas, it wasn’t about having fun. It was about making something happen. Aleem said.
That gamble is now on the verge of being paid off as Aleem returns to the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut for a fight against Vic Pasillas on January 23 airing on Showtime. That fight will be for the interim WBA super bantamweight title and a win would give Aleem his first pro boxing title.
This isn’t the first time Aleem has fought in Connecticut on Showtime. In fact, his last fight took place at the Mohegan Sun, where he won many a new fan with a tremendous win over Marcus Bates this past August.
“I mean, it is a little bit different, but based on the first time around, I got some experience. I know what to expect, so it’s like familiar territory,” Aleem said.
Coming back to the bubble for a second fight is not something most boxers have experienced. Aleem is one of the few who have fought there twice. His first time did not come without issues. He was originally supposed to fight Tramaine Williams, but Stephen Fulton Jr. tested positive for COVID-19. Williams took Fulton’s place in the WBO super bantamweight title fight against Angelo Leo on that same card and Aleem fought Bates.
Most fighters at some point have worried about whether or not their fight would move forward. Even Aleem wondered at some point if he’ll encounter a repeat situation for his second trip to Showtime’s bubble in Connecticut. After all the COVID-19 testing and weigh-ins, Aleem no longer has that worry, allowing him to fully focus on what is the biggest fight of his career up to this point.
“Some weeks ago, it was kind of in my mind. I had heard some weeks ago that somebody pulled out and they ended up taking it again. At some point in time, it was a little shaky. Now, I’m here and not even thinking about it,” Aleem said.
The atmosphere in Uncasville remains mostly unchanged from August. Many of the same people that worked on the August card are still involved with this upcoming show. Even Leo is fighting in the main event once again, this time against Fulton. What has changed is Aleem’s mental approach and knowing that he is on the cusp of a title has added more motivation.
“One hundred percent [it adds motivation]. This is a huge opportunity. I’m thankful to be here and I’m going to make the most out of it. It means a lot to fight for the belt, but ultimately I have to win it,” Aleem said.
But before thinking about the future and big fights, he will have to get past Pasillas, which is no small feat. Pasillas has not been quiet about this fight. He even promised to give Aleem a “major beatdown” when they meet in the ring. Aleem isn’t too concerned with what Pasillas has had to say.
“He’s a great fighter, fast hands, fast feet, lots of power. He’s just a really good fighter. I don’t even pay attention to anything he says. I’ve never looked for it. I don’t care. At the end of the day, I’m going to show up and I want him to bring his A game. He is a top fighter in the division, so when I beat him, there’s no excuses,” Aleem said.
A win over Pasillas, a highly-touted prospect tabbed as a contender in the super bantamweight division, would put him in the upper echelon of fighters at 122 pounds. With the likes of titleholders Brandon Figueroa, Luis Nery and even Angelo Leo, who fights Stephen Fulton Jr. for the WBO title in the main event of Showtime’s January 23 event, Aleem has his eyes set on the world champions at 122.
“I’m ready to fight any current world champion, no matter who it is. Stephen Fulton and Angelo Leo are two great warriors. I’m glad to be fighting on the same card as them, but I’m ready to fight any of them. I am here and I am finally going to make the most out of this opportunity. I’m going to win and I’m looking forward to the world title fight,” Aleem said.
Pasillas vs. Aleem takes place on January 23 and will air on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET.
Video Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgczCWG0R3o