Ra'eese Aleem(19-0) might not be a superstar, but he is one of the best super bantamweights in the world, and not unlike Arnold Barboza Jr., Kenny Sims Jr., Michel Rivera, and countless others. Aleem is simply waiting on his shot to see where he stacks up in the division.
On Sunday evening, Aleem will headline the FS1 undercard of Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Luis Ortiz PPV marathon. The event will have three different channels you will have to tune into to see the whole program taking place live from the Crypto.com Arena, in downtown Los Angeles, California, with Aleem starting things off at 4 PM PST on FS1. Then Joey Spencer will headline the FOX telecast at 5 PM PST, and finally, the PPV card will start at 6 PM PST, which will require an additional fee.
Aleem might be in the most interesting bout of the evening, facing Mike Plania, yet another really tough opponent who eight out of ten fight fans have no clue who he is. Plania beat Joshua Greer Jr. in the Top Rank bubble, and with the WBO NABO super bantamweight title on the line, that means the winner is one step closer to facing Stephen Fulton, Jr., the man who holds two of the four belts in this division and fights under the same entertainment platform of Premier Boxing Champions, as both fighters.
“I am fighting for the WBO #1 spot [at super bantamweight],” said Aleem. “…so after this fight, I am going to hit up the WBO like – ‘yo, let's force this fight.' ” Aleem's last two wins are underrated. He beat Eduardo Baez at 122 lbs. and this is the same fighter who some believe exposed some of the flaws of Emanuel Navarrete, the current featherweight WBO champion, as well as the boogeyman of the super bantamweight division, Vic Pasillas, who was coming off a massive win.
Aleem and his trainer Bobby McRoy are on a thankless journey of fighting extremely hard opponents and getting even less credit for it. Aleem simple wants to be a world champion, yet for whatever reason, despite being a highly ranked fighter in the division, he has found himself in title eliminator bouts more so than none.
Hailing from Muskegon, Michigan, Aleem is from a small town with a dream, as he picked up and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, for the single goal of being the best at super bantamweight. In fact, Aleem has even stated in previous interviews that he'd “…love to be the first person to beat Naoya Inoue.” His goals are not small as Aleem has his sights set on Stephen Fulton Jr.
“It would be Stephen Fulton,” said Aleem when asked if there was someone in his division he wanted to fight. “A lot of people consider him the best in the division over [MJ] Akhmadaliev, though he is a great fighter as well, but it would be Stephen Fulton. It is an easier fight to make, and I'll be the challenger for one of his world titles.”
Yet, Aleem constantly is in hard fights but doesn't capture the average fight fan's imagination. This upcoming one is no different. Plania is no pushover, but at the same time – a dominant win over Plania won't dent the media space, despite being the third dangerous opponent he has fought in a row. It is clear that Aleem is avoided by many because he offers very low financial upside as he is a fighter's fighter – born in the wrong era. Aleem is looking to fight the best and challenge himself, but sadly this is the era of power, in which fighters want to act like businesses, but more so want to simply tell an emerging fighter they don't deserve to fight them simply because they can.
Boxing is now the senate. Yet, we don't have Lyndon B. Johnson to delegate the power; instead, it is simply a slew of people looking to make as much money as possible in each calendar year. The fighters that make it to the top meet these friendly faces. Aleem is trying to enter these conversations.
Aleem has taken a hard road to the top, working with a highly professional team of experts from his promoter, Marshall Kauffman, to manager Greg Hannely of Prince Ranch Boxing. Aleem has the team in place to succeed; he simply needs the performances and opportunities to be great as Aleem is likely one of, if not thee most underrated fighter in all of boxing.
Aleem will fight on FS1 this Sunday, September 4th, at 4 PM PST.