Press Conf Quotes: Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley
Jake “The Problem Child” Paul and former UFC champion Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley went face-to-face during a press conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday as they previewed their professional boxing showdown that will headline a SHOWTIME PPV on Sunday, August 29 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio.
“I saw fear in his eyes. I saw a man who accepted a fight for a paycheck. He doesn’t really have any fight left in him. He’s been defeated multiple times now and he will be sent into retirement by a Disney/YouTube/professional boxer in myself.
“You’ve never been in a fight like this. You know the whole MMA community is counting on you to knock me out. You’ve never been in a fight of this scale. What happens when you lose to Jake Paul? You’re going to be the laughingstock of the internet.
“This is my toughest fight by far and that’s exactly what I want. I want to increase the skill level of my opposition and challenge myself. He was a legitimate knockout artist. But on August 29, in my hometown, you will see a boxing clinic. He’s not going more than three rounds.
“I think the secret is out of the bag. I’m sparring some of the best fighters in the world. When I knock out Tyron, people are going to say that I’m the ‘Real Deal’ like Amanda Serrano. I’m going to take Tyron into deep waters and drown him.
“This is my make or break fight. The MMA community is counting on Tyron. They want to see me fall, but he’s not going to be able to get the job done.
“People know what they get when they tune in to a Jake Paul event. That’s why I’m the most impactful 3-0 fighter in history. I’m knocking this guy out. That’s what people want to see.
“I haven’t been hit in three fights. That’s a fact. I just want to add some experience to my belt. I want to fight Canelo Alvarez in three years. I want to be a world champion. Tyron is the perfect person to maybe get me to the third round.”
“Everything you’ve scripted and wrote down for right now, you’re shaking while saying it. This is a fight. This isn’t for play. This is for real.
“Look at my resume. Look at all the up and coming fighters who they gassed up and what happened to them. None of them landed a punch. So many people come up to me on a daily basis and say you have to knock this guy out.
“It was a good opportunity working out with Floyd Mayweather. He showed me some of the things it takes to be a world class boxer. In MMA sometimes we waste energy and use movement without purpose. Everything I do and everything I throw is going to hurt him. My feints are going to hurt him. It’s going to make his body shake.
“I’m from the ‘Show Me’ state and you have to show me. I’ve been on the big stage. I was the fight of the night at the biggest UFC fight at MSG in history. This is nothing new to me.
“You just talk about money and talk about clout. Because when we talk about fighting, you shouldn’t even be in the same sentence as me.
“He’s talking about Disney because it’s an excuse for when I wax him in the ring. This is going to look like a fight. I’m not just going to go out there and swing two punches. I’m training like I’m fighting Mike Tyson.
“I didn’t get into this for a quick payday. This is my entry into boxing for sure. It’s a steppingstone. When I look at him, I see a kid who has nothing to lose. I’m not going to act like he doesn’t have power, but everyone I’ve faced who had power, made me train even harder.”
“I want to thank Yamileth for taking the fight. She’s a real Mexican champion. Not too many people want to fight me. It’s going to be a great fight. It’s never a boring night when it’s Puerto Rico vs. Mexico. It’s guaranteed to be a night of fireworks.
“I’m the best fighter that I can be and it’s an honor to be anywhere in the top three as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. To my team and to my country, I’m number one.
“August 29 is going to be nothing but fireworks. I always bring a great show and look great doing it. I think Paul and Woodley are going to have competition for best fight of the night.
“I wasn’t surprised the other featherweight champions didn’t want to fight me. We’ve been going after them for a while now. My goal is still to become undisputed and I hope we get those fights soon.”
“I’m very excited for this fight and thankful for this opportunity. I’m a new generation of fighter and I’m very blessed to be in this fight with Amanda. I wanted to compete at featherweight. I feel strong and I’m ready for this.
“I started my career in this weight class before going down, so I’m very happy to be back at this weight. I have no concerns about it.
“This is going to be a war. It’s going to be a fun night. We’re going to leave it all in the ring and the ladies are going to be stealing the show.”
STEPHEN ESPINOZA, President, Sports and Event Programming, Showtime Networks Inc.
“For over 35 years, SHOWTIME has been the network for high-quality, big-time combat sports events. From the most promising young prospects to boxing’s most accomplished champions, to quite literally the biggest pay-per-views in sports history, to the highest quality, most exciting MMA, we bring it all to you. Our current schedule is great proof of that. This Saturday, Jermell Charlo goes to make history by becoming the first undisputed four-belt champion in the super welterweight division against a very tough Brian Castaño. Next week, the 20th anniversary of ShoBox, the only series in boxing that identifies and develops young champions year after year. July 31, right here in LA at The Forum, BELLATOR’s biggest fight ever in Patricio Pitbull vs. AJ McKee for the Featherweight World Grand Prix Championship and the one-million-dollar bonus. That’s all in just the next three weeks.
“In just three fights, Jake Paul has become the talk of boxing and of combat sports. People ask me repeatedly, why did we become involved in this? The reality is, what Jake has done in his first three fights is unprecedented in combat sports. Nobody has generated this kind of attention in three fights. The commitment that Jake has made is that he respects the sport. He takes it seriously and he is committed to fighting tougher opponents with each fight. And you see that. He is progressing with each fight and I promise you that will continue to happen going forward.
“We know exactly what to expect from Tyron Woodley. A Strikeforce fighter who appeared nine times on SHOWTIME. He’s a UFC Champion. Fourteen of his 19 wins were by TKO or submission. He is an elite combat sports athlete. This is an intriguing matchup. A true 50-50. If anybody tells you they know how this fight is going to go, they’re lying. This is the epitome of a 50-50 fight.
“We are going to surround the main event with high quality boxing matches. SHOWTIME is proud of its history in women’s combat sports, both boxing and MMA. We’ve had Amanda Serrano on SHOWTIME before and we’re proud to welcome her back to the network. She is without question one of the best pound-for-pound female fighters on the planet and possibly the best. She has her work cut out for her with Yamileth Mercado, a champion in her own right. She brings her own belt into this, and it’s another installment of the classic Puerto Rico vs. Mexico rivalry.
“This is not a novelty. This is not an exhibition. This is real boxing. This is a competitive sporting event and it is something that you should not miss.”
Please Get Off Jake Paul’s Back – He Could Be Doing You a Favor
By Charles Jay
Today’s message for all of the online boxing experts, fighters and “super-fans” out there:
Please get off Jake Paul‘s back. In fact, thank him for the favor he’s in the process of doing for you.
One of the nice things about being on a platform like Facebook, and having a lot of boxing “friends” there, is that it gives you a pretty good idea of what people in the business – and on the outskirts of the business – are thinking.
And a lot of these diehards are showing some “hate” for the Jake Paul money machine.
But you know, in doing so, they’re showing a fundamental misinterpretation about the way this industry really works; in fact, a misunderstanding of the way it has ALWAYS worked.
For example, you will read about how there are guys who have devoted themselves to the sport and trained for years, maybe even fighting some “real” opponents. That makes them the real fighters. And because of that, those guys “deserve” to be making the money and not Jake Paul.
Well, not to be insensitive about it, but who cares?
No one. No one cares how many hours someone has invested at the gym. No one cares how dedicated anyone is. They really don’t.
What matters is – and I guess I’m speaking to the fighters from this point – do you put asses in seats? Who wants to see you? Anybody?
You see, this is professional boxing. Once you decided you wanted to take money from what you do, it became much less a sport and much more a business. And you have to think a little but more like a businessman.
If your attitude is that you do the fighting and the promoter does the promoting, and that’s all there is to it (e.g., “It’s not my job, man”), then you are conceding that someone else is going to be in control of your career. And that will, in turn, put you at the mercy of other people.
Ultimately, fighters are independent contractors. They are marketable commodities, as impersonal as that may sound. They are, when it really comes down to it, in business for themselves. Therefore, self-promotion is highly RECOMMENDED. Often, you’ll get out of it what you put into it.
Generally, the more people know about you, the more people are going to care about you. And the more they care about you, the more they are going to want to see you.
That’s pretty simple logic, isn’t it?
And I don’t have to tell you that there are more outlets to connect directly with the public than ever before.
When you’ve got enough people who know about you and have an interest in your career, you start to build leverage. And that gets us back around to Jake Paul.
With 20.5 million subscribers alone on YouTube, Jake Paul has leverage.
In other words, he’s got exactly what you’d like to have, and what you can really capitalize from. So what’s the problem?
And you notice what he’s doing with all that leverage, don’t you? If you really stop and think about it, he is doing all fighters and many promoters (generally of the “mid-level” variety) a potentially tremendous service.
Networks, not so much.
But that’s okay, because he is demonstrating that it’s possible, if one sees fit, to bypass the customary “gatekeepers” of boxing as it is presented in a pay-per-view format (or even otherwise) and proceed directly to the public, if you bring enough – and here is the word again, leverage – to the table.
In his particular case, he began his trek through an association with the social media site Triller. As time progresses, undoubtedly other platforms, using performers or promoters who can bring their following with them, will get into the act. Some already have, to a certain degree.
Now Jake has parlayed the Triller experience into a deal with Showtime, which will presumably take things to another level. It is a virtual guarantee that his arrangement with them is very favorable.
Why? Because he’s got leverage.
Oh, and because of his social media presence, his coverage in the mainstream press also increases – GREATLY. It’s like a snowball gathering strength downhill.
Whether it was intentional or not, Jake Paul is contributing to something that has the potential to change the game in boxing.
If you’re a fighter, look upon his success as a model; a blueprint, if you will. That doesn’t mean you should feel like you’re failing if you don’t get 10 or 20 million followers on social media. You don’t have to operate on the same scale; this is YOUR following you’ll be developing. make it fit your own situation. The fundamentals are essentially the same.
And remember that anything you can do to give yourself more bargaining power is a step forward.
Jake Paul is slated for another fight – this one on Showtime – against Tyron Woodley for August 29. And so it is about that time that we will hear the boo birds come out again in criticism of the caliber of his opponents.
That is a subject we’re going to explore soon enough.
This kid is worth more than one story.
Whether you guys like it or not.
Press Conf Quotes: Manny Pacquiao and Errol Spence
Eight-division world champion and Philippine Senator Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao went face to face with unified WBC and IBF Welterweight World Champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. at press conference in Los Angeles Sunday as they previewed their blockbuster championship showdown that headlines a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View Saturday, August 21 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The pay-per-view will begin at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT as Spence will look to earn a legacy-defining victory, while Pacquiao seeks one more monumental win to add to his first ballot Hall of Fame resume.
Here is what the press conference participants had to say Sunday:
“There were a lot of opportunities for me to pick an easier fight than this. But I picked Errol Spence Jr. because I want a real fight and a great fight for the fans. I’m a fighter and boxing is my passion.
“Errol Spence Jr. is aggressive, young and undefeated. He’s dedicated to his career. This is definitely not an easy opponent. This is the kind of opponent you can never underestimate.
“It’s been a long time since I fought a southpaw opponent. We had to change some of our strategy compared to previous fights and we’ll throw some different combinations.
“I don’t think Errol needs advice from Floyd Mayweather. I believe that Errol is a better fighter than Mayweather. Errol can teach Floyd how to fight toe-to-toe.
“I don’t want to be overconfident, because Errol is too good of an opponent. His determination and passion for the sport is always there. When I say I’m going to do something, it’s real and from the heart, it’s not to impress anybody.
“I had started training in the last week of May in the Philippines. So when I got here to Los Angeles, I was just continuing what I was doing. It’s good for me to have the rest that I’ve had the last two years. I’ve been boxing since I was 12 years old until now. When I went back to training, I was still hungry and dedicated.
“I won’t predict another first round knockdown like I had against Thurman. I’m focusing my mind, body and spirit on winning the fight. That’s the only goal.
“This is one of the biggest challenges in my career. I can’t say it’s the biggest, because I’ve been fighting the best fighters in the world for years. But he’s right up there with anyone I’ve faced.
“I’ve been boxing for more than 25 careers as a pro. I think that I’ve seen every kind of style that’s out there.
“This is a one of a kind and prodigious fight. There’s going to be a lot of action in the ring. I’m so thankful for everyone who supports me and I’m happy to be in this position again fighting one of the best fighters in the world.”
ERROL SPENCE JR.
“This is a great opportunity. Coming off of my accident I went right to fighting Danny Garcia and now Pacquiao. A lot of people were in the Pacquiao sweepstakes. When I got the call about this fight, I agreed right away and didn’t give it a second thought.
“There aren’t that many southpaws in boxing, so you don’t usually spar that many. We’ve got a lot of guys in camp now who can fight that left-handed style. Obviously I can’t find someone who fights exactly like Manny, but you can find guys who can mimic the tempo and pace. So that’s who we’ve been working with.
“You can see that Manny is still an explosive fighter with great speed. We’ve been putting together a game plan and we’ve been working on implementing it. Come August 21, you’ll see it in the ring.
“Manny can lull you to sleep giving you compliments. But once the bell rings, he’s going to jump all over you.
“My chin since the accident has been tested in sparring and in the Danny Garcia fight. I imagine Manny is going to try to come in and test it as well.
“Just because he’s 42-years-old I don’t think it’s going to hurt him in training. He’s not blowing up in weight between fights and he’s not distracted. That’s why he’s been the same Manny Pacquiao for decades. I’m looking forward to the same Pacquiao who fought Keith Thurman and before that.
“Manny has a lot of tendencies, of course you’re going to see some things over the span of his whole career. When it’s time to buckle down, you know he’s the guy who’s going to fight. It can be a pro or a con, but he’s going to make it a fan-friendly fight.
“I don’t see myself ever getting knocked out. I just don’t see it. We’re going to be mindful that he has power. He knocked down Thurman and hurt him with a body shot. We’ll keep that in mind. But I’m not thinking about if he can knock me out.
“I have the ability to finish Pacquiao. For me though, I’m focused on winning the fight. If you rush and go for the knockout, you either look sloppy or something goes wrong. I have to fight my fight and at my pace. If the knockout comes, I’ll go for it.
“This is going to be a great fight. Pacquiao is going to bring it like he always does, but I’m definitely going to come through with the victory.”
Press Release: Jake Paul to take on Tyron Woodley Aug 29 in Cleveland
LOS ANGELES (July 12, 2021) – Global superstar and professional boxer Jake “The Problem Child” Paul will take on the toughest test of his burgeoning boxing career when he squares off against former UFC champion Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley in the main event of a professional boxing event on Sunday, August 29 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio, live on SHOWTIME PPV.
After dominating the first three opponents of his professional boxing career, Paul continues to step-up the caliber of his competition against Woodley, a decorated mixed martial arts champion and striking specialist who held the UFC title from 2016 to 2019. On Sunday, August 29, Paul will look to thrill his legions of fans and silence his critics in front of his hometown Cleveland crowd in the eight-round cruiserweight main event, which will be contested at a 190-pound catchweight.
Paul and Woodley will go face-to-face at a press conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday to preview their highly anticipated showdown. The press conference will stream live on the SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel and Jake Paul’s YouTube channel.
The special Sunday night event is produced and presented by Most Valuable Promotions and SHOWTIME PPV. The pay-per-view telecast, which begins live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT is produced and distributed by SHOWTIME PPV. It will feature an undercard complete with high-stakes, professional boxing showdowns including Puerto Rican star and WBC/WBO Featherweight World Champion Amanda “The Real Deal” Serrano defending her titles against super bantamweight world champion Yamileth Mercado.
Barstool Sportsbook is The Official Sports Betting Partner for the event, in a unique, fully integrated partnership.
Tickets for the live event will be available for purchase on Friday, July 22, at RocketMortgageFieldHouse.com.
The 24-year-old Paul (3-0, 3 KOs) is a world-renowned content creator. He began his professional boxing journey in January 2020 and has proven to be an influential participant in the sport’s landscape with his outsized personality and quickly developing skill set. The Cleveland-native is fighting out of Puerto Rico under the eye of former pro boxing contender B.J. Flores, who has been training Jake from his first professional fight. After knocking out YouTube star AnEsonGib and former NBA star Nate Robinson in his first two outings, Paul made quick work of former MMA champion Ben Askren in April with a first-round knockout. With the win over Askren, Paul notched his first victory over a seasoned professional fighter and now takes on an even bigger challenge in Woodley.
“I grew up going to Cavs, Browns and Indians games on the weekends, dreaming as a little kid of one day being in a position to put on a show for my hometown like they did,” said Paul. “On August 29, that dream comes true. My biggest challenge to date, in front of the city that made me, on pay per view for the world to see me knockout a UFC champion. I’m also thrilled to have Amanda Serrano on this card. She stands out as the most prolific KO artist in women’s boxing. What a night this is going to be!”
Fighting out of St. Louis, Missouri, Woodley (19-7-1 MMA record) has a storied career in combat sports. He became UFC champion in July 2016, defeating Robbie Lawler in the first round, and went on to defend his title successfully four times. Before competing in the UFC, Woodley fought in the Strikeforce MMA promotion on SHOWTIME and compiled an 8-1 record from 2009 through 2012. Widely considered one of the most dangerous punchers in UFC history, Woodley earned 14 of his 19 wins by way of TKO or submission.
“I’m a grown ass man,” said Woodley. “I don’t play games with kids. They brought me in to take the trash out. You’re welcome!”
Serrano is the most decorated fighter in women’s boxing history with a professional record of 40-1-1 with 30 knockouts. She was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where she trains alongside her sister, former featherweight champion Cindy Serrano. The 32-year-old has won titles in every division between 115 and 140 pounds, earning belts in those two divisions just four months apart with fights in September 2018 and January 2019. Serrano won her WBC and WBO featherweight world championship belts in a high-profile showdown against Heather Hardy in 2019 and most recently she defended her titles with a knockout win over three-division world champion Daniela Bermudez in March.
Chihuaha, Mexico’s Mercado (18-2, 5 KOs) has held the super bantamweight title since November 2019 and will look to become a two-division champion on August 29 when she challenges Serrano. The 23-year-old won the title via unanimous decision over Fatuma Zarika, avenging a previous defeat to Zarika in Mercado’s first attempt at the championship. Mercado rides a six-fight winning streak into this showdown, including victories over Julissa Guzman and previously unbeaten Angelica Rascon in 2021.
This is the first live sporting event co-produced by Jake Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions. Jake Paul and Nakisa Bidarian will be Executive Producers of the event.
The Pros and Cons of Internet Personalities Cashing in on the Boxing Hype Train
By Matt Gerovac
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen the hype. Internet personalities are taking the boxing world by storm, making millions of dollars on a sport where it typically takes fighters years of sweat equity to make the same type of money, if they’re lucky. Boxing traditionalists are nauseated by the relative instant success, while others have a more forward-thinking attitude. As an amateur fighter and trainer myself, I have mixed feelings about it. So, I think the best way to process all the information on my social media feeds is to simply list the pros and cons of this phenomenon and leave the judgement to the judgemental.
- It’s bringing new fans to the sport of boxing. I’ve noticed that a lot of new people are getting interested in boxing, coming to the gym, learning about boxing, and talking about it more. This is all great news for the sport that I love.
- It shows that there are levels to this game. Even to the untrained eye of the casual boxing fan, it should be obvious that these internet personalities are low-level fighters. Many of them are not terrible, but they’re certainly not world class. If casual fans take the time to watch the real boxers on the undercards, they’ll notice a difference in the technique, cardio, and ring generalship. Even if a fraction of those same casuals stay interested in real boxing and improve their knowledge, it’s a win for the sport.
- To true fans and fighters, it reiterates the importance of good matchmaking. These internet personalities have teams of people – trainers, advisors, coaches, and real fighters that don’t want to put them in real danger. It’s about maximizing the reward while taking minimal risks. This happens in real boxing as well (yes, I said it. REAL BOXING). The promoters want to bring their fighters up slowly, pad their records, and put them in a position where they can win belts and make as much money as possible while taking as little damage as possible. This may never be more evident than in the matches these internet personalities have found themselves in.
- Real fight fans are getting tired of hearing about it. True fans of boxing, those that know a bit about the fight game or are in the business themselves, are getting fed up with the circus. Granted, there is a bit of hype involved with any fight. Even the fighters themselves have been known to trump up their disdain for their opponents to help “sell a fight.” But the internet personalities are masters of hype. They, somehow, created hype out of nothing, so making a fight interesting is relatively easy. The result is an incredibly hyperbolic lead-up to a fight that usually ends up being a foregone conclusion.
- It takes away from the legitimacy of an already suspect industry. The fight game has a history of shady business dealings, so this is certainly not helping its reputation. It’s not called “The Hurt Business” because of the obvious. With feuding promoters, the alphabet soup of belts, and allegations of PED’s to name a few of the recurring issues in professional boxing, the last thing this sport needs is more uncertainty.
- By buying these fights on pay per view, we’re padding the pockets of people that haven’t taken the real steps to earn it. Even if these internet personalities are putting in the work now, it’s a fraction of the time and sweat equity it typically takes for a young fighter to build their name and make a real career out of prize fighting. If we continue to buy these fights, we’re a part of the problem.
- Why pay big money to watch a predictable fight? As I mentioned before, matchmakers know what they’re doing. But just as much as I’d love to see Errol Spence fight Terrence Crawford, I couldn’t care less about who these internet personalities set up to fall down as they continue to get richer.
The bottom line is these internet personalities are certainly bringing more fans to the sport of boxing. But at what cost? I think it’s important that the real fight fans, coaches, and fighters have patience with the tourists of our sport. If you know something about boxing, take the time to explain it to those that don’t. If I’m not training myself or someone else, I love jumping in on conversations about boxing and dropping a little knowledge without coming off as a know-it-all. As a trainer, I’ve been cashing in myself on the sport’s recent upswing in popularity, so I can’t rightfully complain.
I also want to make sure I mention the fact that I did not once utter any of these internet personalities’ names in this article. My feed is already slammed with all this junk and I think we, the fighters, trainers, and true fight fans, should post and repost information about the fighters grinding it out on the heavy bags right next to us, rather than these relative tourists bankrolling on the general public’s lack of real boxing knowledge.
Six Team USA Boxers Punch Ticket to Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
The Boxing Task Force (BTF) announced today the 49 quota places, originally to be awarded at the Road to Tokyo Americas Qualifier, that were awarded to boxers to compete in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 this summer. The quota places included six Team USA boxers, which was based off the BTF Rankings.
“These six boxers have been staples within our program and have established themselves amongst the world’s best by their performances during the past quad,” stated USA Boxing High Performance Director Matt Johnson. “Now it is time for them to perform at the world’s biggest stage in Tokyo.”
Representing Team USA at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, pending United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee approval, will be Rashida Ellis (Lynn, Mass.) Virginia Fuchs (Houston, Texas), Naomi Graham (Fayetteville, N.C.), Delante Johnson (Cleveland, Ohio), Oshae Jones (Toledo, Ohio) and Richard Torrez Jr. (Tulare, Calif.). All six boxers will be competing in their first Olympic Games.
2019 Elite Women’s World Championships bronze medalist Ellis will compete in the women’s lightweight (132 lbs./60 kg) division. Ellis won bronze at the 2019 Pan American Games to add to her BTF rankings to solidify her position in Tokyo as the second highest ranked America’s boxer and 12th overall in her weight class. Ellis will be looking to win Team USA’s first women’s lightweight Olympic medal.
“Qualifying for the Olympics has been one of my deepest dreams,” mentioned Ellis. “I never doubt my ability. I have stopped being afraid of what could go wrong and start being excited about what could go right. So, I embrace my mistakes and learn from them, as my mistakes have helped me improve and reach the Olympics. I don’t do easy; I make things happen. The hard work and dedication with effort and determination, I can succeed.”
Fuchs will represent Team USA in the flyweight division (112 lbs./51 kg). The 33-year-old will be looking to earn USA Boxing its second medal in the women’s flyweight division since the introduction of the event in London 2012. Fuchs brings an impressive resume to the ring, including a bronze medal at the 2018 Elite Women’s World Championships and silver medal from the 2019 Pan American Games, which places her as the second highest America’s flyweight boxer and 16th overall in the BTF rankings.
“I have been waiting for this moment for a very long time. I am so excited I can finally call myself an Olympian,” stated Fuchs. “With all this world has been through and having to postpone the Olympics a whole year, I am proud to say I am one of the participants in what will be known as the most recognized Olympics in history. I am ready to represent my country in the most respected way and bring home the gold!”
2019 Pan American Games Graham is the highest seeded America’s female middleweight (165 lbs./75 kg) boxer in the BTF rankings, where she currently sits eighth overall. Graham earned points from her Pan American Games title, as well as her third-place finish at the 2018 Elite Women’s World Championships and top five finish at the 2019 edition. Graham, who will become USA Boxing’s first active female military member to compete in an Olympic Games, will be in contention to grab Team USA’s third straight Olympic gold medal in the women’s middleweight division.
“It feels unreal that I am going to the Olympics,” Graham stated when talking about earning her place to Tokyo. “I continue to surprise myself by finding my own limits, and then having the courage to blow past them.”
Jones will step into the ring in one of the two newly added women’s weight classes, the welterweight (152 lbs./69 kg) division. Jones, who made history in 2019 with her gold medal performance at the Pan American Games, will look to continue making history by becoming the first Olympic gold medalists in her weight division. The 23-year-old added valuable points to her rankings with her top five placement at the 2019 Elite Women’s World Championships to finish as the top America’s boxer and seventh in the overall BTF rankings for the welterweight division to punch her ticket to the Olympics.
“I may only take up one spot, but my one spot represents so much,” shared Jones. “I’m beyond grateful for the chance to represent women, African Americans, my small city of Toledo, but most importantly, my country.”
The second Ohioan to represent Team USA, Johnson, extends the streak of Cleveland-native boxing Olympians to four, following in the footsteps of Charles Conwell (2016), Terrell Gausha (2012) and Raynell Williams (2008). The welterweight (152 lbs./69 kg), who first caught the attention of the boxing world with his gold medal performance at the 2016 Youth World Championships, earned his ranking points through his bronze medal finish at the 2019 Pan American Games and top 16 placement at the 2019 Elite World Championships. Johnson was the third highest seeded America’s boxer and 19th overall.
“My struggles are my stripes, and I wear them on my back, so that the people around me can see that even when you’re living in a jungle, you can still chase your dreams,” stated Johnson. “I am not only doing this for my city, but for my two coaches, Dante Benjamin Sr. and Clint Martin, whom I lost during my journey to these Games.”
Torrez, the highest ranked super heavyweight (201+ lbs./91+ kg) boxer from the Americas and 11th overall, earned his place through his third-place performance at the 2019 Pan American Games and top five standing at that year’s Elite Men’s World Championships. Torrez, a former Youth World Championships bronze medalist, will be the first American boxer to compete in this weight class since 2012.
“Everyone is happy they’re going to the Olympics, it’s everyone’s dream, but I need to be there,” said Torrez. “The fire that was instilled in me before I could even walk, that drives me to be the best, the fire that has been in my family for generations, has overflowed. It has set ablaze all my second options, and it has made ashes of any other possibility besides that of success.”
Team USA will be guided by USA Boxing National Head Coach Billy Walshduring these Olympic Games.
“It is fantastic news for our six boxers who have worked endlessly for the past five years to become an Olympian, “ Walsh shared. “We now focus on the next stage of the process, to become an Olympic Champion.”
The boxing competition will begin on Saturday, July 24th (JST). Continue to check usaboxing.org and USA Boxing’s social media platforms to stay updated on more information regarding the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
All team nominations are subject to USOPC approval.
Legendary Boxer and Former World Heavyweight Champion Leon Spinks Dies
Former World Heavyweight Champion Leon Spinks, Jr. lost his five-year battle with prostate and other cancers, at the age of 67 on Friday, Feb. 5 at 8:15 p.m. At the time of his passing his wife Brenda Glur Spinks was by his side. Due to COVID restrictions, only a few close friends and other family were present.
Leon fought his battle with numerous illnesses resiliently, never losing his trademark smile. Showing true Spinks determination, he never threw in the towel.
Leon will be remembered as a beloved husband, father and brother. Leon served our country in the United States Marine Corps, who he proudly represented when he won a Gold Medal in the Montreal Olympics in 1976. But Leon truly cemented his place in history on February 15, 1978, in Las Vegas, Nevada, when he shocked the world by beating Muhammed Ali, to become the undisputed World Heavyweight Boxing champion Leon entered that fight with only seven prior professional fights, weighing only 197 pounds and being outweighed by over 25 pounds. Leon fought 72 professional fights, winning 46 of them.
The Perfect Opportunity: Keith Thurman vs. Kell Brook?
By: Kirk Jackson
Exiting the scorching months of the summer and entering the fall, the recent talk of significant welterweight match-ups in the making, features the combination of talents ranging from current WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford (36-0, 27 KO’s), former unified WBC and WBA welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-1, 22 KO’s) and former IBF welterweight champion, Kell Brook (39-2, 27 KO’s), also known as “Special K” or simply “The Special One.”
As of last Friday, there are talks or at least the beginning stages of negotiation between Crawford and Brook. Reportedly, an offer of 1.5 million was offered to Team Brook, for a fight against Crawford to take place at some point later in year.
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn recently revealed he’s aligning Brook to face the three-division champion Crawford.
“I had a couple of conversations with Bob Arum and Top Rank VP of operations, Carl Moretti yesterday. And I feel that’s a big fight for UK TV, so we’re trying to help out and get that over the line,” Hearn told IFL TV.
“I would love to see Kell get that fight. I think Top Rank had a conversation with Keith Thurman and obviously they wanted too much money. It’s difficult at the moment. Crawford wants a lot of money and Kell wants a lot of money. He deserves it. We’re trying to make that fight happen to assist Top Rank in getting the numbers together.”
But preceding this negotiation, were talks of Crawford potentially facing Thurman. Prior to that, there were discussions of Thurman facing Brook.
“Thurman’s people got in touch with me, but they’re out to lunch,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told BoxingScene.com. “They have such crazy expectations that just don’t exist anymore. Their money demands are crazy. They said they were free agents, which I’m sure they are. But again, who’s gonna pay what they’re looking for?”
However, Arum didn’t disclose the dollar amount Thurman’s representative requested, nor identify who contacted him on Thurman’s behalf. Thurman in recent interviews talked about potentially facing Crawford in the near future, but never mentioned a price tag.
Thurman is likely to return and headline a FOX broadcast later this year in December, albeit his opponent has yet to be determined.
Crawford for his part, spoke on the potential fight with Thurman in a recent interview.
“You don’t know what you want to do,” said Crawford. “Because if a contract was sent to Keith Thurman, he would find a way out. So, stop playing with my name. You’re a guy who just cries wolf.”
Thurman’s retort however, conveys the opposite of what Arum and Crawford insinuate about Thurman regarding a potential showdown between the pair.
“Right now, I want [Terence] Crawford more now, man,” Thurman stated. “He got under my skin. Errol [Spence]? That’s a timeline issue. I know how the game works. We got the same manager. That’s a timeline issue. This Crawford dude? Send a contract, bro. Tell ESPN to send some zeroes my way. They know an appropriate number. I sign on the dotted line.”
“Don’t act like I run from you. You never got respect in the game anyway at 147. You ain’t pushed the buttons at 147. You ain’t touched Shawn Porter. You ain’t touched Thurman. You ain’t touched [Danny] Garcia. You ain’t touched Spence. I’m gonna run out of fingers! I can name all my opponents you ain’t touched. I’m gonna run out of fingers, boy! Stop it, just stop it!”
Question is, why can’t Arum and company negotiate a price tag with Thurman, if the demand is that high? Negotiate with Team Thurman, like the negotiations that took place with Team Amir Khan last year.
Unless of course, a fight against Thurman is not what Arum and company truly want. Arum and Crawford for that matter, have their sights set on current WBA champion Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KO’s). But with representation on behalf of Pacquiao mentioning he’ll be on the shelf for the duration of 2020, “Bud” has to set his sights elsewhere.
However within this current welterweight mix-up, exists a pairing that makes perfect sense for each participant.
Focusing on that pairing; featuring Thurman versus Brook, makes the most sense for both fighters.
For Brook, his last three opponents since losing his IBF welterweight title to Errol Spence Jr. in May 2017, are Sergey Rabchenko, Michael Zerafa in March and December of 2018 respectively, along with Mark DeLuca in February of this year.
Nice string of comeback fights to work out the ring rust, to build confidence and tread towards the path back to the top again.
Brook is searching for that signature fight and payday before calling it quits on a pretty solid career. As mentioned in his interview with IFL TV, he wants either Thurman or Crawford and the former unified WBA and WBC champion provide Brook with what he is seeking.
Expanding on the signature fight, and more importantly the signature win aspect, Brook’s biggest fights to date were against Shawn Porter, Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence. After securing victory in a close fight against Porter to win his world title, Brook suffered technical knockout defeats against Golovkin (In a bid for middleweight world titles) and Spence (Losing his IBF world title).
Brook has staked claim in wanting more. He wants to be known for something greater and if that’s the case, he will chase another signature win against another high-level opponent.
“Making 147 (lbs.) is something Terence [Crawford] and all these American fighters seem to love to ask me to do when it’s put on their toes: ‘Would you fight Kell Brook?’ Tell Kell Brook to make weight,’” Brook said. “It’s fine though. It shows me they respect my ability and take some sort of comfort from convincing themselves it might not happen.”
“I boxed in February. I’ve been ticking over during lockdown and I’m back in the boxing gym training. By the fall time, I’ll be more than ready, I will make the weight. Then I’ll make the wait worthwhile!”
Concentrating on Thurman, who commands strong standing and a high measure of star power amongst his contemporaries. For Thurman, suffering defeat in a closely contested championship bout against a future Hall of Famer doesn’t lower his stock. Especially considering he was exhilarating in defeat.
Any fight featuring Thurman will be on network television like FOX and will be a headliner event. Meaning, there will be a ton of promotion, high viewership and great revenue earning opportunities. If Brook is to secure a bout with Thurman and emerge victorious, that places him in great position for an even bigger fight.
It’s important to state, a hypothetical victory for Brook over Thurman would also be his biggest win to date. Due to certain variables, the fight against Thurman may be Brook’s best chance for a win against high-level and highly acclaimed opposition.
One of those variables, is Thurman’s history of injuries. Dating back to July of 2015, Thurman has only competed five times. But like “One Time,” “The Special One” has his history of unfortunate injuries.
According to his own testimony, Thurman was injured in most of his recent fights. The mental aspect of recovery and rehabilitation is a battle in itself, a battle Brook shares.
“It’s hard for someone to show me an opportunity and watch me say no,” said Thurman. “I could maybe take a tune-up. But I like great fights and significant challenges. Whoever, I fight, I know there’s going to be a following. I want to make it worth my while. Those training camps are not easy. I want my opponent to be worthy of all the pain and suffering that is involved in the whole event for it to be really worthwhile.”
What would be the incentive for Thurman to fight Brook?
Brook is a name, a former champion and a fighter with a following. Brook has the support of the United Kingdom. They have interesting styles, contrasting styles but share many traits in common. It can be argued both are entering the back-end of their professional careers and plotting for pivotal standing in a loaded division at welterweight.
Based on the quote from Thurman, Brook represents what he is seeking. They both bring great intangibles to the table and can mutually benefit from facing one another.
Fans and critics alike question if Thurman still has it and wonder if he can return to the same form that he had when capturing the WBC and WBA welterweight titles? What better way to begin his comeback trail than against a fighter in a similar position?
Another facet to consider, a common link the two share is Errol Spence. Many observers believe Thurman visibly ducked Spence for several years, while Brook was the first active champion at the time, to provide Spence an opportunity for the world title, as Spence worked his way up to mandatory challenger. Thurman in fact told Spence to acquire a world title or two first, before he would grant that opportunity.
In recent months, Thurman claimed desires of wanting to fight Spence, while Brook has maintained his yearning for a rematch ever since losing to the Texan back in 2017. If Thurman faces and defeats Brook, that may place him in position for Spence, as they’ll then share another common opponent. For Brook of course, if he were to win the hypothetical, keeps him in the sweepstakes for a rematch.
An added benefit for “One Time” by facing Brook, is he keeps other unfavorable options on the back burner.
Thurman is a highly sought out target and may find himself fighting off a bevy of would be challengers. The aforementioned Spence was always a name pursing a clash against Thurman, Porter is seeking the rematch and Garcia stated he would like a rematch at some point as well. The Clearwater native may not be ready for those bouts when he returns in December.
There is also a crop of young talent, itching at the opportunity to get a crack at Thurman. Jaron Ennis (25-0, 23 KO’s), who fights September 19 and Vergil Ortiz (16-0 16 KO’s), fresh off his victory last month over veteran Samuel Vargas.
While Thurman would be favored in any of those match-ups, or even in other bouts against Yordenis Ugas, Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Jessie Vargas, Sergey Lipnets, Ray Robinson, etc., the risk may not warrant the potential reward. Especially if the end goal is to get the rematch against Pacquiao, or the eventual fight against Spence. Adrien Broner and Mikey Garcia would be exceptions to that rule.
For Thurman, especially if he secures the December date, not only prolongs talks of bouts against any of the aforementioned fighters, but a win and spectacular victory at that (Hopefully injury-free) over Brook leaves him with an opportunity for a larger scale fight against some of the bigger names once the welterweight schedule clears up.
Much is at stake for Thurman and Brook, but each fighter has the opportunity to make the best of this proposed scenario and this is a great opportunity for both parties.
Will it still be KO’s for life and are chocolate brownies on the menu?
Three Takeaways: Why Top Rank is Missing an Opportunity with Clay Collard
By: Jonah Dylan
Massive knockouts, overmatched challengers and surprising upsets: this weekend might have been all over the place, but it had a lot of high-level boxing. Matchroom had its fight camp finale, plus there were important cards from ESPN+ and Fox. The biggest fight of the weekend was Alexander Povetkin’scome from behind demolition of Dillian Whyte, but we’ll start with one of boxing’s hottest names in Clay Collard.
1. Clay Collard is a treasure because he’s unique. Top Rank doesn’t seem interested in treating him that way.
Ok, hear me out. I love Clay Collard as much as the next guy. The former UFC fighter came out of nowhere in 2020, somehow racking up a 5-0 record that casually has him near the top of the Fighter of the Year running. He’s clearly willing to fight anyone, anywhere, anytime, and that’s the reason boxing fans are so excited by him.
But here’s the problem: Collard rose to this level of notoriety because of how his career started. Collard was essentially taking a break from MMA and knew his quickest path to big boxing fights was to fight undefeated prospects who would be garnering significant attention by fans and promoters. His first five opponents had a combined one loss and he went 1-1-3 against them. He seemed destined to be a professional opponent.
Then he started winning. He won five of his next six fights, all against legit prospects. He ended up on a Top Rank card in June and shocked then-undefeated prospect David Kaminsky by split decision. It was the first time most boxing fans had seen Collard fight, and they started to connect with his story and fighting style.
That brings me to the problem. After his win over Kaminsky, Top Rank got a hold of Collard and clearly saw what he brought to the table by himself. Instead of matching him with more prospects, they decided to treat him like the prospect, matching him very easy for his next two fights.
I get why this is the usual roadmap for prospects. You want to match them easy, then slowly build their level of competition as they learn and develop their skills. It makes sense and it has a track record of working for fighters across the world. But Collard isn’t just another prospect. He’s the prospect-killer, and he brings something to the table that most other fighters don’t.
So stop giving him easy fights! Rob Brant fought on Saturday’s Top Rank card and has no clear opponent at 160 pounds. Why can’t he fight Collard? How about Collard against Edgar Berlanga? And those are just a few Top Rank names. Literally any prospect at middleweight? Throw him in with Collard and see what happens.
Collard developed his reputation by only taking tough fights and consistently earning upset wins. Let’s allow him to keep doing it.
2. Katie Taylor-Delfine Persoon 100 would probably look pretty similar to Taylor-Persoon 2
The war between Taylor and Persoon went pretty much exactly as expected. Persoon did what she does, which is march forward and throw shots without really paying attention to if they’re landing cleanly. Taylor used her boxing ability to land cleaner punches and try to move away from Persoon, but she got drawn into the war on more than one occasion. It was a brutal fight, and Taylor’s win was certainly fair.
It could’ve gone either way, just like their first fight. Their next fight would probably go the same way. And to be honest, I’m more interested in Taylor-Persoon 3 than a lot of the fights that might be out there for her.
Taylor could fight Jessica McCaskill in what would be a significant fight and one that McCaskill has definitely earned. But Taylor already beat McCaskill in a lopsided contest and I’m not sure the rematch would go much differently. There’s some chatter about a superfight with Claressa Shields at 147 pounds, but I’ll believe that when I see it.
The fight to make is Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano. It was supposed to happen in May, then August, then it fell apart because of promotional issues between Eddie Hearn and Lou DiBella that seem to be pretty significant. While it didn’t work out last time, now is the time to try one more time. It’s the biggest fight in women’s boxing and while Taylor would be the favorite, Serrano is more than capable of beating her.
3. Ok, so maybe we doubted Alexander Povetkin a little too much
In retrospect, Povektin had been pretty consistent over the last few years. He had his moments against Anthony Joshua, then dominated Hughie Fury and put up a really solid performance in a draw with Michael Hunter. He had every opportunity to compete with Dillian Whyte, and, well, that’s exactly what he did.
Povetkin was getting beat down before he uprooted everything with a nasty uppercut that left Whyte out cold. Whyte had a rematch clause and seems likely to exercise it, so we’ll see them back in the ring sometime in the near future.
The next fight will be very dangerous for Whyte. If he wins, he can get back on track the way Anthony Joshua did after his knockout loss to Andy Ruiz. Whyte has the benefit of being able to say he was clearly winning the fight before Povetkin landed the uppercut, and there’s no reason he can’t outbox or even knock out Povetkin in the rematch.
For Povetkin, even at 40, a second win against Whyte will set him up for yet another massive payday. His name recognition will shoot up after this win, especially with the highlight video in hand to help sell any fight he takes down the road. It’s clear, as it’s always been, that anything can happen in the heavyweight division.
Follow me on Twitter @TheJonahDylan
Chicago’s Jessica McCaskill is the New Face in Women’s Boxing
By: Rich Lopez
This past weekend in boxing, there was a passing of the torch. The highlight of this weekend was in the women’s welterweight division. Jessica “CasKILLA” McCaskill (9-2, 3 KO’s) of Chicago, defeated Cecilia “First Lady” Braekhus (36-1, 9 KO’s) of Norway.
It has been a long journey for McCaskill since the beginning of her career up until now. McCaskill, is a two-time Golden Gloves winner. She made big waves in boxing in her first title shot in 2017. In her seventh professional bout, she challenged the undefeated Katie Taylor over in London. McCaskill came up short in the fight and lost a unanimous decision, but gave the undefeated Taylor all she could handle. Due to her effort, McCaskill was given another opportunity at a title shot in her hometown of Chicago in 2018. McCaskill moved up to the super lightweight division and challenged Argentina’s Erica Anabella Farias for the WBC title. McCaskill made the most of this opportunity and won a ten round unanimous decision to win the world title. McCaskill had a phenomenal 2019. She added the WBA title in a unification bout by defeating Anahi Sanchez. Then she defeated Erica Anabella Farias in a rematch to end the year.
McCaskill is true fighter and has overcame all obstacles. She was once homeless in her childhood and she got through that. In suffering an early defeat in her career, she was able to become a world ranked fighter. After her loss to Katie Taylor, she became a world champion. Now, she is a two weight world champion. Her opponent this past Saturday was considered the best female fighter in the game today. Cecilia Braekhus had been a world champion for an astonishing eleven years and the undisputed welterweight champion for six years.
Despite being a 5 to 1 underdog, McCaskill solved the puzzle and defeated Braekhus. McCaskill along with her trainer Rick Ramos had a good game plan and they executed the plan. Throughout ten rounds, it was a tough competitive fight from start to finish. Both fighters had their moments in the fight. At the end, the scores were 95-95, 97-93, and 97-94 in favor of McCaskill by majority decision. There was some complaints of the scoring but it was not a robbery. If some fans thought Braekhus won the fight, it would have been a close one. No matter how you felt about the scoring, McCaskill fought her fight. McCaskill was the aggressor and the busier of the two fighters. Even when the two fighters clinched, McCaskill would punch in the inside and work her way out. She took advantage to rough Braekhus up. Braekhus was forced to slug it out with McCaskill and she was not able to keep her distance from the outside as usual. The judges ended up favoring the busy work rate of McCaskill. At the end, both fighters embraced each other and are true class acts.
It has been quite some time since we had a world champion from Chicago, but McCaskill has filled that void now. Not only did she become the Undisputed Welterweight Champion but she is now considered one the best female fighters pound for pound.
Simply put, the win was one of the best accomplishments in women’s boxing. Jessica McCaskill is the new face in women’s boxing.
What’s next for McCaskill?
A rematch between McCaskill and Braekhus could happen or maybe a rematch with Katie Taylor. For now, she can enjoy the moment of being the Undisputed Welterweight Champion. We look forward to her next fight on her incredible journey.
Three Takeaways: It’s an Incredible Stretch for Women’s Boxing
By: Jonah Dylan
The boxing world is finally back to some semblance of normalcy. This weekend we had watered-down cards on multiple networks, horrible judging and extremely questionable refereeing. Oh, and a nonsense belt from the WBA. If that doesn’t represent the official return of boxing, I don’t know what does.
Still, there’s a lot to get into. Let’s get to it.
1. Jessica McCaskill just casually flipped the boxing world on its axis
McCaskill came into her fight with Braekhus as a clear underdog. That’s not to belittle McCaskill, who was already a unifed champion at super lightweight. It says more about Braekhus, who was considered one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world and had made 25 defenses of her welterweight title. She was undefeated and had been the undisputed champ for years.
McCaskill fought like she knew what she was up against, outworking Braekhus and taking the fight to her to earn a hard-fought majority decision win in a DAZN main event. Braekhus hinted at retirement after the fight, but a rematch could certainly be in order if she wants to fight on.
As for McCaskill, she’s set up for another shot at Katie Taylor, assuming Taylor wins her rematch with Delfine Persoon this Saturday. McCaskill lost to Taylor in 2017 but is more than deserving of another crack at the undisputed lightweight champion. I’d still like to see Taylor fight Amanda Serrano (adding that to the list of fights ripped from us by boxing politics) but McCaskill-Taylor or McCaskill-Persoon would both be very compelling matchups.
McCaskill’s win also comes in the midst of a great period for women’s boxing. In just the past month, women have taken over the spotlight in the sport. Terri Harper-Natasha Jonas was one of the best fights of the year, Mikayla Mayer earned another impressive win in a main event and Braekhus and McCaskill engaged in another great fight on Saturday. It all leads to easily the best fight on paper, a rematch between Taylor and Persoon this weekend.
Taylor beat Persoon by controversial majority decision to become the undisputed champion on the Joshua-Ruiz I card, and fans have been clamoring for a rematch ever since. The wait is finally over, and the winner will have a litany of major fights waiting in the near future.
2. Israil Madrimov is still really, really good
Madrimov went the distance for the first time in his career, and while he earned a decision win, it wasn’t without speedbumps. He looked gassed in the middle rounds, and Eric Walker made him pay for it. Walker is a really solid fighter and wasn’t getting enough credit coming in, so his performance wasn’t particularly surprising. Anyone who watched The Contender is familiar with Walker and how tough he makes it on his opponents.
Madrimov is clearly a work-in-progress. And that’s okay. He’s only had six pro fights, and Saturday’s bout with Walker was the first time he really had to overcome adversity in a fight. He puts everything he has into every one of his punches and doesn’t seem to care what’s coming back at him when he throws. Against an opponent with heavy hands, that could be a recipe for disaster.
But he also hits really hard, which is what makes him so exciting and what makes him hard to pick against. Even in a tough fight, Madrimov should’ve had a knockout when he sent Walker to the ground in the 9th round and the referee ruled that his shoulder had caused Walker to hit the canvas. Walker didn’t look like he was in any shape to continue, but the referee gave him five minutes to recover and he was able to finish the rest of the fight.
It’ll be interesting to see how Madrimov gets matched in his next fight. He’s coming off a win over the best opponent of his career and should theoretically be in line for a title shot. Does his team want to give him more time to develop, or are they ready for the big fights? That decision could have implications for the rest of his career.
3. David Benavidez
Yes, David Benavidez. There’s a lot to unpack. On one hand, Benavidez’s talent is undeniable. He has elite power and is very advanced for his age, and there isn’t a lot inside the ring that’s given him any trouble. Outside the ring is a different story.
Benavidez was stripped of his WBC super middleweight title in 2018 when he tested positive for cocaine. He won it back against Anthony Dirrell on the Spence-Porter undercard with an impressive performance that was probably his best as a pro. Then, scheduled to make his first defense against Roamer Alexis Angulo, he lost the title on the scales.
He knocked out Angulo in a fight no one predicted would be competitive, title or no title. We learned nothing, except that Benavidez has trouble making 168 pounds. He’s big for the weight class and a move to 175 is no doubt in his future, but he’s continued to talk about fighting fellow belt-holder Caleb Plant.
The reality is there’s nothing holding up a fight between Plant and Benavidez other than the notion that it needs to “marinate.” Neither of the fighters have been in competitive fights since they won their respective titles, and there are no obvious other fights out there. If Benavidez is going to stay at 168, he should fight Plant. If he’s not going to fight Plant, I’d rather see him move up to light heavyweight. The weight class is wide open underneath Artur Beterbiev, and Benavidez would be a welcome addition.
Follow me on Twitter @TheJonahDylan
Whyte vs. Povetkin Fight Preview
By: Oliver McManus
Matchroom Boxing’s Fight Camp concludes, in its current guise, this coming Saturday (August 22nd) with a Box Office night at Matchroom HQ. Topping the bill is a heavyweight clash between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin for the interim and diamond WBC heavyweight titles.
With Whyte having to wait around for his crack at the full WBC title, The Body Snatcher will look to remind the governing body just why he is their number one contender. On paper you’d suggest there are few heavyweights with such an impressive resumé over the past few years as Whyte. Champions aside, though even they’ve faced several soft touches, very few heavyweights have racked up such a solid catalogue of wins.
Whilst the names of Dereck Chisora (twice), Joseph Parker, Oscar Rivas and Lucas Browne all look good there is more to the tale then the green W on Boxrec suggests. The first contest against Chisora, way back in 2016, highlighted the fragilities of his defense that we all knew existed and Whyte was fortunate to take the split decision; when they met again two years later it was a similar affair with Chisora out-slugging Whyte for large parts of the contest before getting knocked out in the eleventh round.
Against Helenius he looked dreich and dour; against Parker he was wobbly but just about hung on in the end; against Lucas Browne he looked superfluous with a beautiful body shot but, really, Lucas Browne is a very average fighter. There are always signs of brilliance with Whyte and his destructive power is clear for all to see. It’s entertaining, no doubt, and so too is the fact he’s yet to quite put all the pieces together to ensure you’re confident he’ll see out a fight without any danger.
For this contest he has split with Mark Tibbs and teamed up with Xavier Miller: a left field decision but Miller a reputable mentor in his own right. It will be interesting to see the effect Miller has on Whyte’s mentality and how that unfolds on fight night but this could well be the step required to refresh and revitalise Whyte’s renaissance.
Alexander Povetkin is a man that seemingly never ages but will turn 41 on September 2nd. Having been a professional since 2005 it does seem as though Sasha has been there or thereabouts pretty much since the turn of the decade: losses to Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua the only blemishes on his record.
Thanks to wins over Hughie Fury and David Price, Povetkin has managed to angle his way back into vision of the UK boxing fraternity and has impressed in the process. Against Price we saw a real demonstration of the sheer bludgeoning power possessed by the Russian. Yes, Price had marginal success in the opening rounds but as soon as Povetkin landed anything of meaning it was a case of ‘sladkiye mechty’ (sweet dreams) for David Price.
Add to the mix the fact that Povetkin provided, at the time, the sternest test of Anthony Joshua’s career and this fight shapes up to be intriguing. He followed in the footsteps of Whyte in terms of applying pressure to AJ early on and ensuring he was first to the punch, something that Andy Ruiz later capitalised on to greater effect, and had Joshua racking his brain for a good five, six rounds. Ultimately Povetkin hit the canvas twice in the seventh round to see the fight waved off but promising signs were there: can he go one step further against Dillian Whyte and finish the job?
The undercard sees Katie Taylor take on Delfine Persoon for the undisputed lightweight title with ALL the marbles on the line – WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF. Despite Taylor edging their first meeting last June it will likely be the Irish fighter seeking redemption with many onlookers considering her fortunate to retain her titles.
Persoon can harness some Jessica McCaskill’s energy – McCaskill another former opponent of Taylor – who pulled off a stupendous upset Cecilia Braekhaus on August 15th. Belgium’s Persoon has been a long time figurehead of female boxing having been at the top of the game since 2012 but it could well be argued Taylor is the only truly elite fighter she’s ever crossed paths with.
Paulie Malignaggi Gets Sucker Punched
By: Patrick Mascoe
Showtime Boxing has fired boxing analyst, Paulie Malignaggi because of his comments regarding the topic of racism. Malignaggi openly discussed what he saw as a clear double standard when it comes to racist rhetoric in boxing. WBC Lightweight Champion, Devin Haney, was talking about a potential matchup with Vasiliy Lomachenko, “Listen, can’t no white boy beat me, I don’t care, on any day of the week. I fight a white boy like 10 times, I’m gonna beat him 10 times.” Haney followed his comments up by saying he’s not racist. Despite what Haney may believe his comments were directed specifically at one race and his use of the term “boy” was meant to be derogatory.
Back in 2007, Bernard Hopkins said the same thing before facing Joe Calzaghe. “I would never let a white boy beat me. I would never lose to a white boy.” There was no backlash at the time and Hopkins was never called out for his comments. However, he did proceed to go out and lose the fight by way of a split decision. Malignaggi pointed out that if a white boxer ever said something like that directed at a boxer of color he would be crucified. It’s hard to disagree with Malignaggi on this point.
Paulie Malignaggi is a very good boxing commentator, he is not a Sociology professor. His lens and view of society is based on his position as a former boxer and boxing commentator. The comment that probably got him in the most trouble was his opinion that racial oppression has existed but that Haney’s comments are an example that racial oppression is exaggerated.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Malignaggi’s opinion, it is simply his opinion. It is also an opinion that is shared by a number of scholars, journalists and politicians of color. However, Paulie Malignaggi was fired because of his opinion. It’s highly ironic when you think about it; Malignaggi was fired over controversial remarks on racism while calling Devin Haney out because of his derogatory racially insensitive comments. Haney has never offered an apology, nor has anyone asked him to clarify his statements.
Devon Haney has faced no repercussions for his comments, yet, the man who called him out has been fired by Showtime Boxing. Paulie Malignaggi claimed that there is a double standard in boxing when it comes to racist rhetoric. Again, based on what has happened to Paulie and what has happened to Devin, it is hard to disagree with Malignaggi.
Perhaps, Paulie Malignaggi, would still be with Showtime Boxing had he Tweeted out an insincere message stating, “I’m not racist.”
Evan Sanchez Returns To The Ring, Post Covid, “Like Nothing Ever Happened.”
By: Sean Crose
“It’s going to be an amazing fight,” 7-0 welterweight Evan Sanchez says of his scheduled Friday bout against the 18-4 Issouf Kinda. The scheduled 6 rounder will be the opening fight on Golden Boy’s Vergil Ortiz Jr – Samuel Vargas card, which will be aired live on the DAZN streaming service from Indio’s Fantasy Springs Casino. Without a doubt, it will be a chance for the 22 year old Sanchez to show his stuff in front of a live international audience. Golden Boy clearly sees a bright future in the California native, something the the 6 foot tall Sanchez is grateful for. Describing the company as “amazing,” the fighter goes on to explain that “they’ve been taking care of me, giving me the fights.”
Sanchez didn’t originally seem like the type of individual who would someday become a professional boxer. Describing himself as a “shy kid,” Sanchez explains that it was his father who introduced him to the sweet science. “He put me in the sport for self defense,” says Sanchez. The shy kid eventually found himself as a tall, power punching prospect in one of the sport’s top glamour divisions. Having all but one of his fights ending by knockout has clearly helped Sanchez’ career – not that he relies solely on his power. “If the knockout comes, the knockout comes,” he says.
Like all fighters, Sanchez was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Rather than sit around the house playing video games all day, however, the fighter made the best of a bad situation. “It was a little difficult,” he admits. “We had to make our gym.” Once he was allowed to train as he always has, Sanchez jumped at the opportunity. “I’ve been in the gym,” he says of the relative return to normalcy, “like nothing ever happened.”
Sanchez credits his family and those close to him for giving him the support needed to succeed in the ring. “They understand that I have to stay focused,” he claims. Not that Sanchez avoids basic human interactions. He just wants to keep his eye on the prize. “I have a girlfriend,” he says, while making it clear that otherwise, he’s “just focusing on the sport.” Provided he continues on with his winning ways, Sanchez and his team plan on quickly moving beyond the prospect stage. “We’re going after a Junior Belt,” he says.
Errol Spence vs. Terence Crawford Series: Part 2 – Pandemic Problems and Options for Terence Crawford
By: Kirk Jackson
The top pound-for-pound fighter of the sport is facing a predicament. Current WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford (36-0, 27 KO’s) is itching for a fight, but is experiencing difficulty securing a legit opponent.
Although Crawford is highly regarded by his fighting peers, analysts and other observers of the sport, his standing has not prevented an onslaught of recent criticisms from these very same outlets, in spite of his accomplishments.
Major world titles:
- WBO lightweight champion (135 lbs.)
- WBA (Super) light welterweight champion (140 lbs.)
- WBC light welterweight champion (140 lbs.)
- IBF light welterweight champion (140 lbs.)
- WBO light welterweight champion (140 lbs.)
- WBO welterweight champion (147 lbs.)
The Ring magazine titles:
- The Ring lightweight champion (135 lbs.)
- The Ring light welterweight champion (140 lbs.)
- Undisputed light welterweight champion (IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO)
- Fighter of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2014
World Champions Defeated (8): Ricky Burns, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Ray Beltran, Viktor Postol, Jeff Horn, Julius Indongo and Amir Khan.
Crawford, along with virtually every other fighter is plagued with problems presented from this pandemic.
But what also ails the Nebraska native, is his lack of high quality opposition as of late. In addition to this pandemic, in which limits the options for Crawford, the hand from Father Time is creeping in, imminently set to attack what’s left of the 32-year-old Crawford’s prime years.
How much longer can Crawford hold on to any bits of his prime and as a top performer? This is a concern expressed by current Top Rank/ESPN commentator and unofficial Top Rank Promoter, Timothy Bradley.
“‘Bud’ Crawford is not a young whippersnapper anymore,” Bradley said. “He’s in his 30s. He’s not young. Activity is important for him. But I know Bud Crawford personally. I know he works extremely hard, he’s constantly staying in shape. So, I think he’ll be okay.”
“One thing that we know is that you can’t buy back time,” Bradley continued. “You can’t buy back time. These are your prime years. Boxing is short. It’s a short lived sport, believe it or not. You have a short window to make your money and get out of the game before the game damages you.”
With this pandemic and worldwide shut down in effect, another questions begs as to how will this affect Crawford, as far as securing that elusive, career defining bout?
Legendary Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, has a list of opponents he’s considering for Crawford’s next fight set to take place in November. Fans and boxing pundits speculate those potential opponents may be Shawn Porter, Manny Pacquiao, Kell Brook, Keith Thurman or Yordenis Ugas.
However, the legacy defining fight fans are clamoring for, is a bout featuring current unified IBF and WBC welterweight champion, “The Truth” Errol Spence Jr. (26-0, 21 KO’s).
The highly anticipated collision course can potentially go down as one of the most memorable fights in welterweight history. This match-up may stake its stand in time like Thomas Hearns vs. Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad, Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao and other historic match-ups.
That’s if Spence fully recovered from injuries suffered from his horrific car accident last year and he and “Bud” can overcome other obstacles prior to their proposed, eventual clash.
Regarding Spence’s return and recovery, for obvious reasons Crawford will be a highly interested observer as he returns later this year.
“Errol has stated that he’s fine; he’s training, and nothing is really wrong with him,” Crawford told ESPN. “He’s preparing himself for Danny Garcia. So after this fight, we’re all going to get a glimpse of how he’s going to react coming off of that magnitude. And being that he’s taking on a tough opponent in Danny Garcia because Danny is by far no walk in the park for anybody. So we’re all going to get our answers from fight night with him, and Danny share the ring together.”
But what is the best option for Crawford in the immediate future? Pacquiao is at the top of everyone’s wish list, but that is a fight having eluded Crawford the past five years. And with the pandemic having a negative impact worldwide on the economy, securing these highly desirable match-ups are increasingly difficult.
If the plan is for Crawford to face Spence next year, the go-to move, may be pitting the WBO welterweight champion against common opponents to help stir up interest, further hype the fight while enhancing viewership and appeal to the observing audience.
It’s a plan committed in years past, when fighters were in the process of mutual courtship. For years, Floyd Mayweather verbally jabbed at Manny Pacquiao for fighting his leftovers; Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Shane Mosley. In turn, Mayweather fought some of Pacquiao’s dance partners; Juan Manuel Marquez and Miguel Cotto.
In the past, many other rivals shared dance partners en route to their eventual showdown. This added another layer of intrigue, as fans and analysts alike dissected and compared performances against common foes and it served as build-up for the fight.
“Bud” can follow that same blueprint, by facing Kell Brook, Mikey Garcia or even Shawn Porter. Spence had fight of the year caliber fights with Brook and Porter respectively.
“That’s a good fight,” Crawford told ESPN regarding a fight with Porter. “If that’s a fight that Porter wants to pursue, we can talk about it, and so be it. I don’t duck no fighter. I never turned down no fighter, so I won’t stop now. My whole thing was I’m looking for the titles, and I’m trying to become undisputed. Me and Shawn are good friends.”
What ultimately determines what will occur is the decision from Arum.
“The first choice, obviously, is for Crawford to fight Manny Pacquiao but that depends on money from a site abroad,” Arum said in an interview with Boxing Scene.
“I talked to Manny about the fight but a lot of these places overseas are reluctant now to do anything this year because of the pandemic. Next year? Different story. But this year it’s a big problem and I have no control over it, so it seems unlikely it would be Pacquiao this year and I want to get Crawford a fight this year.”
Without a crowd in attendance, or a notable adversary willing to participate under less than ideal circumstances, Crawford may be stuck in limbo waiting for the Spence fight – if that even materializes.
“My contract states I’m not taking any pay cuts. If we have to fight for the minimum, so be it,” Crawford told ESPN. “With the fans unable to come see the fight, I don’t know how that’ll fare against any top welterweight in the division. When you look at the whole landscape of the whole thing, it’s going to come down to money. And if you can’t provide the proper money for each fighter, then how is that going to make the fight happen?
“But as far as a pay cut, it depends on who we’re fighting. Manny Pacquiao is a fight that we’re still currently looking forward to getting. Like I said, the pandemic has messed up a lot of things as far as money.”
As Crawford alluded to, the pandemic has tampered with sports and life as we know it. But progressing forward, the plan is to overcome these hurdles and eventually things will get back on track.