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.
Press Conf Quotes: Showtime Announces 5 Months of Boxing
SHOWTIME Sports® and Premier Boxing Champions unveiled a nine-event television lineup for the remainder of 2020 in a virtual press conference today. The schedule is the largest collection of world championship boxing announced since the COVID-19 pandemic forced a stoppage of the sport.
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® host Brian Custer introduced the schedule comprising of 22 critical matchups, beginning on August 1, featuring 18 undefeated fighters, nine world champions and eight world championship fights including one world title unification bout. The robust rollout of fights over the next five months includes two unique pay-per-view events involving some of boxing’s biggest names – Gervonta Davis, Leo Santa Cruz, Jermall Charlo, Jermell Charlo and David Benavidez.
Each live telecast will be presented without fans in attendance from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Included in the schedule are four world title eliminators, three interim title fights and 13 bouts in all pitting top-10 ranked fighters.
Custer was joined by Stephen Espinoza, President, Sports and Event Programming, Showtime Networks Inc., to preview the robust schedule spanning five months as well as world champions the Charlos, Benavidez and undefeated prospects Stephen Fulton Jr. and Angelo Leo to discuss their respective bouts.
Below are highlights of what Espinoza and the fighters had to say:
“We’re thrilled to announce what we believe is the strongest and most comprehensive schedule in all of boxing. Meaningful fights, competitive matchups. This is what boxing fans have been waiting for ever since the sport shut down in March. Between that March date, our last event on ShoBox, and August 1 will be 141 days that we’ve been down. Like everyone else, we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time coming up with protocols – but also a tremendous amount of time coming up with this schedule. From highly regarded prospects to emerging stars and big-time champions, we put them all in tough matchups. This lineup really delivers on our promise to boxing fans with the biggest fights, the most exciting fights, and the highest quality presentation in the sport. We’re doing nine telecasts with what areunquestionably the most significant fights in the sport since boxing has restarted.
“This is a really high-quality schedule with five months of meaningful fights, competitive fights and fights that are really going to determine champions and challengers for the foreseeable future.
“We weren’t going to come back just for the sake of coming back. We wanted to come back at a high level with meaningful fights – with fights which would remind the public why they’re excited about the sport of boxing. So, we put together a schedule week after week of competitive fights, with big names, with meaningful fights. Before we know it, this sport is going to be back where it should be in terms of momentum and positive energy.”
“We will show everyone on September 26 that we’re the future of boxing. We’re going to let everyone in the world see the great things that me and my twin brother have done for the sport.
“Of course, the pandemic made us separate a lot of things in our routine and do things slightly differently. But I also can work out here at home so it hasn’t been too tough for me to stay sharp.
“Every fight is tough and I’m coming in prepared like always. Derevyanchenko is a highly rated fighter and we’re both going to go in there to get the job done.
“We haven’t decided who’s going to fight first, but we’re just so excited to be headlining these separate PPV cards. Me and my twin brother have something big in store for everyone on September 26.
“We just stay in shape. We’re always training and we’re always ready. This is a time in life where everyone had to go through the same thing. It was just a matter of time to get back to boxing.
“It is what it is not having fans in the stands. There’s not much we can do about it. We’re back and we’re going to enjoy it.
“I didn’t think Derevyanchenko won the fight against Golovkin, but he definitely made it a lot closer than people expected. I didn’t think people knew about his style and what he brings to the ring. It was close, but I didn’t think he won the fight.
“This win lets people know that I’m ready for the biggest fights against the other middleweight champions. Derevyanchenko has been in with tough competition, but he’s come up short. I know that people will have questions no matter what happens, but that’s just part of boxing. I’m ready to fight.
“It would definitely deliver a statement to the boxing world if I knock him out. The power is for real and I can get in there and hurt just about anybody.
“I feel like we’re going to meet in the middle of the ring and let our hands go. May the best man win. My game plan is going to be to shut his game plan down. We’ll see on fight night.”
“Jermall and Jermell have always said they want to do big events, historical events, unprecedented events that are unlike any other and that’s what this is. You would have to go back to those marathon Don King pay-per-views of the 80’s where you would have this many title fights on one card and even on those fights 30 or 40 years ago, you didn’t see the array of talent that we’re getting on September 26. Four world title fights, a unification fight, Jermell, Jermall taking arguably the toughest fights of their careers on the biggest stage. It is sort of the crown jewel in the schedule right now.”
“This opportunity is finally here and I’m happy that me and my brother have this day to show how much we put into the sport. Now is our time to be PPV stars.
“I’ve been boxing for so long and it’s been my dream to win multiple belts, you can expect me to get that win. I’m going to dominate. I don’t want to leave this up to the judges. I’m going to dominate or win by knockout. That’s how I do it.
“People will be saying that ‘the Charlos are boxing’ after September 26. They’ll have to put us on the pound-for-pound lists after our performances.
“What matters the most is having this platform and putting on a great performance September 26. We know what we have to do.
“Being well-rested is important. Our bodies are in a great position and now it’s about getting better and working on things we need to work on. Boxing is a year-round sport, so we always stay in shape.
“Rosario is just another fighter with two arms, two legs and a mind. I’m going to do what I do and be destructive. My job is to take his titles and that’s what I’m planning to do.
“We always fought on the same cards growing up. It gives us energy and helps us be at our best. At the end of the day, we’re going to be ready to fight no matter what.
“When you’re really focused on the fight you’re zoned in and not even hearing the crowd. It’s not going to be a factor for us.
“If Rosario can
’t take the power, we can fight all twelve. I can take a punch, but we don’t know if he can take a Jermell Charlo punch. We’re going for knockouts. I like to set it up and deliver it within the 12 rounds.”
“We’re thrilled to have David (Benavidez) back on SHOWTIME. He’s one of the most exciting young fighters in boxing. Young, exciting, charismatic, someone that if you haven’t seen fight, you’re in for a treat. Again, on this particular card, we can’t just focus on the main event because there’s two really compelling co-features. Speaking of somebody who’s exciting to watch, “Rollie” Romero clearly fits that bill. If you haven’t seen him, make sure to tune in. He is one of the most exciting young fighters as well. In the opening bout, two high quality heavyweights will match up. In this case, two heavyweights who both suffered from and eventually recovered from COVID. Thankfully, they’ve recovered, but those are three intriguing fights headed by David Benavidez’s return to SHOWTIME.”
“I’m very excited to come back. We’ve been out of the ring for almost a year.
“It was a little difficult getting this camp started because – Seattle was the epicenter of the pandemic. So, the number one key was to stay home, stay safe, and train at the right times. Now that we have the fight in August, we’ve brought a couple guys from different cities and everyone has been tested and everything has been good. I’m in my dad’s gym, so we can train whenever we want. We’ve been having a great training camp so far and now it’s just getting to the date smoothly.
“That’s very unfortunate right now (not to have fans in attendance), but I think what matters most is the safety and protection of the people. It’s going to be the same thing, like the Charlo’s said, you kind of get tunnel vision when you’re in the ring. My main goal right now is to give the fans at home the best possible fight I can possibly give them. (Roamer Alexis) Angulo has a nice record, and he has a lot of knockouts. I have a lot of knockouts, so it’s going to be fireworks all night.
“I’m expecting him to come forward, this is his second world title fight. I think he’s here to make a statement and I know he’s taking this fight very seriously. I want these tough fights. I want these brawls. I want these barn burners. You don’t want to blink because this fight is going to end in a knockout.
“My main goal is to get to Caleb Plant. That’s the fight I want the most, that’s the fight I feel the fans want the most. Since we’re in the same promotion company that’s fairly easy. I was hoping to get that fight by the end of this year but the pandemic kind of messed up a lot of things. I’m not looking past Angulo — he looks like a great fighter and he looks like a strong fighter. I want to get past this fight and then hopefully by the beginning of next year we can get to Caleb Plant.
(On a potential move to Light Heavyweight)
“I think so, but as of right now there are a lot of great fights at 168. There’s Caleb Plant, there’s Callum Smith, there’s Canelo, there’s Billy Joe Saunders. There are so many great fighters at 168 and there are a lot of great fights to be made. I’m going to be here until I make all of those fights. I have a long time left in this boxing game. I still have about 10 or 13 years in this boxing game left, so I don’t have to move up too quick. As soon as I get all of these fights and all of the belts I want to get at 168, then it’s time to move up to 175 – but I’m staying at Super Middleweight right now for a while.”
“What strikes me about the August 1 card isn’t just the quality at the top of the card with two young, emerging guys fighting for a world title. On this one card, we have five undefeated fighters and one fighter with just one loss. And the one fighter with the loss is trying to avenge that in a rematch on this particular card. This is a remarkably competitive, high-quality card top to bottom. It’s not just Fulton-Leo –although that one is a fight fan’s fight – each of these three fights is meaningful an among top-tier guys and rising stars. They are the kind of fights that sort out future champions from the guys who came close. This card may quietly be the most consistent card from top to bottom on the whole schedule.”
STEPHEN FULTON JR.
“It would mean everything to me (to be the only current world champion from Philadelphia). I feel like I always hold Philly on my back, no matter what, and that mindset would not change even if there were five champions from Philly. I am coming to fight.”
“You should expect a good fight. I have been rocked before, but look where I’m at, still standing. I’m just excited overall for every aspect in how he fights. I am excited to be in the ring with him and have the opportunity to display my skills.”
“I am going to beat him because he hasn’t been tested. No one he fought has brought any competition to him. I am going to beat him because I have been tested, I have taken those punches and showed I can get up. Also, my overall skills are just better than his.
“I am always looking to mental adjustments leading up to the fight, and during the fight. I plan to look at this like sparring. When you are sparring, no one is there. I plan to have that same energy, but just a little more intense.
“Personally, I just want to beat him. After that, we can talk about what happens in the future. Honestly, I am just worried about this guy. I am not even thinking about anyone else. That being said, I feel like I am the best in this division. I prove myself over and over again, and that is what I am going to continue to do. I want to be the first undisputed 122-pound champion in the world.”
“It would mean the world to me (to be the first champion from Albuquerque since the late great Johnny Tapia). He was a fighter I look up to, and to become a champion out of Albuquerque says a lot about the city, and a lot about myself. The goal is to become champion, and to represent Albuquerque in the process.
“At the end of the day it is a fight. He can boast about his resume all he wants. We are both top five in the world, we are both undefeated, so it does not really matter once we get in there. He has beaten undefeated fighters, but if you look at those fights, he has been rocked and dropped in all of them. He is not untouchable.
“I am going to get the victory, of course. Whether it goes 12 rounds or not, I am going in there to get that title.
“I am hungrier than him. I have seen what he has, and I know I can break him down. He doesn’t have the will and the heart like I do. On top of that, I have a lot of skill and experience. He is going to see why I am undefeated.
“I definitely feel I’m ready for championship fights. I thought I was ready for a world title three years ago. After I stopped Cesar Juarez in spectacular fashion, I knew I was ready for a world title.
“The 122-pound division is loaded, filled with great talent. This just makes for exciting fights. This is what boxing fans want, and this is what we are going to give them. To be the best you need to beat the best, and if you do not think that way you should not be in the sport. I am in this sport to be the best.”
Showtime Announces Huge Boxing Line Up for Rest of 2020
SHOWTIME Sports and Premier Boxing Champions announced today a lineup of nine live boxing events featuring 18 undefeated fighters, nine world champions, and eight world championship fights including one world title unification bout. The schedule comprises 22 critical matchups from bantamweight to heavyweight and features some of the biggest stars in the sport today – Gervonta Davis, Leo Santa Cruz, Jermall Charlo, Jermell Charlo, David Benavidez and more. It is the largest collection of world championship boxing announced since the COVID-19 pandemic forced a stoppage of the sport.
The SHOWTIME boxing schedule begins on Saturday, August 1 and runs through the end of 2020. Initially, each live telecast will be presented without fans in attendance from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Included in the schedule are four world title eliminators, three interim title fights and 13 bouts in all pitting top-10 ranked fighters.
There are two SHOWTIME PPV® events in the lineup presented by Premier Boxing Champions. The first in late September is a pay-per-view doubleheader featuring four world title bouts in back-to-back three-fight events on the same night all for one price. Doubleheaders are common in the NFL, NBA and MLB. There hasn’t ever been a boxing PPV doubleheader – until now. The second blockbuster PPV event in October is a unique clash with the winner earning world titles in two weight classes.
“We are proud to announce the strongest and most comprehensive schedule of fights in all of boxing,” said Stephen Espinoza, President, Sports and Event Programming, Showtime Networks Inc. “Each bout on this schedule, our largest schedule announcement since 2018, carries high stakes and significant implications. From highly regarded prospects to emerging stars to established champions – all in tough matchups – this lineup delivers on our promise to provide boxing fans with the best talent, the most exciting fights and the highest quality presentation in the sport. We are thrilled to return to live boxing with this star-studded schedule of exciting, meaningful fights.”
Philadelphia’s 122-pound rising star Stephen Fulton Jr. will headline SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® on August 1 (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) against talented, fellow undefeated contender Angelo Leo of the Mayweather stable in a marquee 12-round matchup for the vacant WBO junior featherweight world title. The Premier Boxing Champions event is promoted by Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions. This will mark the first live boxing event on SHOWTIME since ShoBox: The New Generation on March 13 when the network presented what was to be the last nationally televised professional sporting event in the U.S. for several weeks.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be finally getting back to boxing,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions. “Everyone has been patiently waiting and the series of fights that we will collectively put on over the next few months will be great for boxing and the sports world in general. We’re kicking things off August 1 with a world title opportunity for our rising contender Angelo Leo who has been consistently grinding and taking care of business. He’s facing another young and focused undefeated fighter and only one of them can be crowned champion. Both guys are confident that the title belongs to them, which is going to make for a great fight from the first bell.”
“I have been really impressed with both Fulton and Leo,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Fulton’s resume includes victories over eight undefeated fighters. Angelo Leo will be the third straight unbeaten fighter he’s faced. Leo has passed every test he’s had with victories against some of the toughest fighters in the division. The winner of this match will be soaring to new heights in the division.”
“This is my time. I’ve prepared for this my whole life,” said Fulton. “He will be a world champion one day, but not this time.”
“I’m excited to get back in the ring and to continue where I left off,” said Leo. “It’s an honor to be the main event on SHOWTIME and to be fighting for the WBO belt.”
The fight-by-fight schedule follows:
Main Event: Stephen Fulton Jr. (18-0, 8 KOs) vs. Angelo Leo (19-0, 9 KOs) – Vacant WBO Junior Featherweight World Championship
Co-Feature: Tramaine Williams (19-0, 6 KOs) vs. Ra’eese Aleem (16-0, 10 KOs) – Super Bantamweight Title Eliminator
Co-Feature: Joe George (10-0, 6 KOs) vs. Marcos Escudero (10-1, 9 KOs) II – Light Heavyweight Bout
About: Fellow Americans and undefeated fighters Fulton and Leo are legitimate top-10 junior featherweight contenders who will meet for the vacant WBO 122-pound world title. A southpaw from New Haven, Conn., Williams will clash with Las Vegas-based Aleem in an intriguing, 50-50 matchup between talented, undefeated prospects. Managed by All-Pro lineman Trent Williams, Houston’s George upset Escudero in an exciting ShoBox affair last November.
Main Event: David Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs) vs. Roamer Alexis Angulo (26-1, 22 KOs) – WBC Super Middleweight World Championship
Co-Feature: Rolando Romero (11-0, 10 KOs) vs. Jackson Marinez (19-0, 7 KOs) – WBA Lightweight Interim Title
Co-Feature: Otto Wallin (20-1, 13 KOs) vs. Travis Kauffman (32-3, 23 KOs) – Heavyweight Bout
About: Undefeated Benavidez, 23, kicks off his second reign as WBC Super Middleweight Champion. In 2017, he became the youngest 168-pound champion in boxing history by defeating Ronald Gavril on SHOWTIME at just 20 years old. Angulo is coming off an upset win over heavily hyped and then unbeaten prospect Anthony Sims Jr. The power-punching “Rolly” Romero of the Mayweather stable, who has scored five first- or second-round stoppages in his last six fights, is an undefeated ShoBox alum ranked No. 10 by the WBA while Marinez is ranked No. 6. Wallin vs. Kauffman is an intriguing heavyweight matchup between the Swedish southpaw and the veteran Kauffman. Both fighters have survived bouts with the COVID-19 virus, made full recoveries and are anxious to get back in the ring. The winner will undoubtedly receive another big fight. The loser will go to the back of the line in the busy heavyweight division. This Premier Boxing Champions event is promoted by TGB Promotions and Sampson Boxing. The Romero vs. Marinez bout is co-promoted by Mayweather Promotions.
Main Event: Erickson Lubin (22-1, 16 KOs) vs. Terrell Gausha (21-1-1, 10 KOs) – WBC Super Welterweight Title Eliminator Bout
Co-Feature: Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-1, 9 KOs) vs. Eduardo Ramirez (23-2-3, 10 KOs) – WBC Featherweight Title Eliminator Bout
Co-Feature: Jaron Ennis (25-0, 23 KOs) vs. TBA – Welterweight Bout
About: Lubin, already a veteran at just 24 years old, has excelled since his shocking first-round loss to Jermell Charlo three years ago. Gausha is a former U.S. Olympian with just one loss. Both men are poised and hungry for a signature win and the opportunity to fight for a unified 154-pound title, which will be on the line the following week. Nyambayar and Ramirez are legitimate top-10 contenders. Nyambayar faced Gary Russell Jr. in Februaryon SHOWTIME in the last SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast before the COVID-19 shutdown. Ramirez, of Mexico, is coming off a stoppage of previously unbeaten Leduan Barthelemy. A graduate of the popular ShoBox: The New Generation series, Philadelphia native Ennis has fought twice on ShoBox and twice on SHOWTIME BOXING: Special Edition cards. Ennis is a former National Golden Gloves Champion ranked No. 12 by the WBO and No. 14 by the IBF. This Premier Boxing Champions event is promoted by TGB Promotions and the Ennis bout is in association with D & D Boxing.
September 26 – SHOWTIME/Premier Boxing Champions PPV Doubleheader
In One of the Main Events: Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs) – WBC Middleweight World Championship
Co-Feature: Brandon Figueroa (20-0-1, 15 KOs) vs. Damien Vasquez (15-1-1, 7 KOs) – WBA Super Bantamweight World Championship
Co-Feature: Diego Magdaleno (32-3, 13 KOs) vs. Isaac Cruz (19-1-1, 14 KOs) – IBF Lightweight Title Eliminator Bout
About: Houston’s Charlo will defend his title against WBC No.-1 ranked Ukrainian Derevyanchenko in one of the main events of this pay-per-view twin bill that boasts four world title fights. Charlo has held the WBC middleweight title since 2019 and reigned as the IBF junior middleweight champion from 2015 to ‘17. Charlo holds wins at 154 pounds against championship-level fighters including Cornelius Bundrage, Austin Trout and Julian Williams. Derevyanchenko has twice challenged for the IBF middleweight title in 2018 and ‘19, losing only to top-level opponents Daniel Jacobs and Gennadiy Golovkin. The 23-year-old Figueroa claimed the interim WBA 122-pound title with an eighth-round stoppage of Yonfrez Parejo last April, before successfully defending the title with a homecoming KO of Javier Chacon in Edinburg, Texas. After being upgraded to the “regular” titlist, Figueroa retained his belt after a 12-round draw against Julio Ceja last November. The southpaw Vasquez is coming off a stoppage win over Alejandro Moreno in February of 2020. Magdaleno vs. Cruz is an IBF title eliminator matchup of ShoBox alums currently ranked 10th and sixth, respectively.
The Other Main Event: Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) vs. Jeison Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) – WBC, WBA and IBF 154-Pound Unification Bout
Co-Feature: Mario Barrios (25-0, 16 KOs) vs. Ryan Karl (18-2, 11 KOs) – WBA Super Lightweight World Championship
Co-Feature: Daniel Roman (26-3-1, 10 KOs) vs. TBA – Super Bantamweight Bout
About: In the other main event of this two-part, six-fight pay-per-view telecast, Jermell Charlo will take on Rosario in just the eighth world title unification fight in the 154-pound division’s history. It is also just the second fight with three super welterweight world title belts up for grabs. In January, Rosario upset Julian Williams to win the WBA and IBF titles. Last December, Charlo regained the title by stopping Tony Harrison. At stake is supremacy in a talent-rich division. The 25-year-old Barrios from San Antonio has held the WBA (regular) super lightweight title since September of 2019. His opponent Karl hails from Houston and is ranked No. 9 by the WBA. A regular sparring partner of Erislandy Lara and Jermell Charlo, Karl is trained by Ronnie Shields. Roman is a former unified super bantamweight champion, having held the WBA (Super) and IBF titles from 2019 to January 2020. Roman’s 19-bout winning streak was snapped in January in a split-decision loss to Murodjon Akhmadaliev. Ranked in the top five by all four sanctioning bodies, Roman previously held the WBA title from 2017 to 2019. This unique PPV doubleheader is presented by Premier Boxing Champions and promoted by Lions Only Promotions and TGB Promotions. The Jermell Charlo-Jeison Rosario match is co-promoted with Sampson Boxing.
Main Event: Sergey Lipinets (16-1, 12 KOs) vs. Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0, 8 KOs) – IBF Welterweight Interim Title
Co-Feature: Xavier Martinez (15-0, 11 KOs) vs. Claudio Marrero (24-4, 17 KOs) – Super Featherweight Bout
Co-Feature: Malik Hawkins (18-0, 11 KOs) vs. Subriel Matias (15-1, 15 KOs) – Super Lightweight Bout
About: The 31-year-old Lipinets has won three significant fights in a row since his lone loss to Mikey Garcia, including a dominant stoppage that sent former word titlist Lamont Peterson into retirement. Uzbekistan’s Abdukakhorov is coming off his biggest win to date over former world titlist Luis Collazo and is yet to taste defeat since turning professional in 2015. With Abdukakhorov ranked No. 1 by the IBF and Lipinets ranked No. 3, the winner will be in prime position to challenge the unified 147-pound world champion Errol Spence Jr.Sacramento’s Martinez of the Mayweather stable is an exciting prospect who thrilledShoBox viewers when he scored one of the quickest knockouts in the history of the series last November, while Marrero is a grizzled veteran who held the WBA interim featherweight title in 2017. Hawkins of the Mayweather stable is trained by Calvin Ford and a teammate of two-division world champion Gervonta Davis. Every one of Matias’ 15 career victories as a pro has come by way of knockout, with his only setback a unanimous-decision loss to Petros Ananyan back in February. This Premier Boxing Champions event is promoted by TGB Promotions, Top Rank, Inc. and Mayweather Promotions.
October 24 – SHOWTIME/Premier Boxing Champions PPV
Main Event: Gervonta Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) vs. Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) – WBA Super Featherweight World Championship/WBA Lightweight World Championship
About: This blockbuster main event will be contested at the super featherweight limit of 130 pounds. The winner of the match, however, will be in the unique position to earn world championships at 130 and 135 pounds on the same night. Two crowd favorites with massive followings will meet with Santa Cruz’s newly won WBA (Super) 130-pound world title on the line. The unbeaten “Tank” Davis is a two-division world champion and reigning WBA lightweight titlist at the age of 25. He emerged as a bona fide star in 2019 with sold-out main event bouts in Baltimore and Atlanta. “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz is a four-division world champion who avenged his only professional loss to Carl Frampton. The stage is set for one of the best matchups that can be made in all of boxing. Both men are all-action fighters. Davis boasts a knockout percentage of .957 while Santa Cruz is one of the busiest punchers in the sport. The winner of this fight will rightfully earn a top-10 spot on the coveted pound-for-pound list. This Premier Boxing Champions event is promoted by Mayweather Promotions, TGB Promotions, GTD Promotions and Santa Cruz Boxing Club.
Main Event: Chris Colbert (14-0, 5 KOs) vs. Jaime Arboleda (16-1, 13 KOs) – WBA Super Featherweight Interim Title
Co-Feature: Richardson Hitchins (11-0, 5 KOs) vs. Argenis Mendez (25-5-3, 12 KOs) – Super Lightweight Bout
About: The WBA interim super featherweight champion Colbert has fought five times in the past 20 months. Arboleda of Panama earned a split-decision win over veteran Jayson Velez in a WBA junior lightweight eliminator in February. New York City’s Hitchins of the Mayweather stable represented his parents’ home country of Haiti in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and Mendez is a former IBF Super Featherweight champion from the Dominican Republic. This Premier Boxing Champions event is promoted by TGB Promotions and Sampson Boxing. The Hitchins vs. Mendez bout is co-promoted by Mayweather Promotions.
Main Event: Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12 KOs) vs. Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs) – WBC Bantamweight World Championship
About: France’s Oubaali will be defending the WBC bantamweight world title for the third time. Donaire is the No. 1-ranked contender and fighting for his eighth world championship. A four-division titlist and former pound-for-pound mainstay, Donaire fought brilliantly in what many picked as 2019’s Fight of the Year, a decision loss to Naoya Inoue. At age 37, Donaire is attempting to defy the belief that the smaller the fighter, the earlier the prime. The Premier Boxing Champions event is promoted by TGB Promotions.
“I’m A People Person.” Memories of Travell Mazion
By: Sean Crose
I was on the side of the road in New Haven with my wife in the passenger’s seat beside me. It was that gray time of year in the northeast when winter is moving on and the clouds and dampness often seem to rule supreme. I had to pull over to talk to the man on the phone, but that sort of thing was common. Interviews often don’t happen exactly then they’re scheduled to. Adapting to less than optimal situations is part of being a fight writer. Nature of the business. I’ve conducted more interviews than I can count, but I remember this one vividly. Perhaps that’s because the subject of this particular interview, Travell Mazion, was such a unique guy.
“He’s friendly, Mazion,” I would go on to write, “friendly and engaging to talk to. Combined with his burgeoning resume, it’s little wonder Golden Boy Promotions holds Mazion in high regard.” His previous fight had been a highly impressive first round knockout of Fernando Castanada a few months earlier, January, in fact, at Texas’ Alamodome. It was part of the Jaime Munguia-Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan undercard. So impressive was Mazion that evening that, at the time of our interview, O’Sullivan himself was being marked as his next opponent. “That’s a big step up,” he told me, and he was right.
Sadly, the fight never came to fruition, nor did the 17-0 super welterweight’s impressive promise. For Mazion was tragically killed in a car accident in Austin, Texas on Wednesday evening. The accident also claimed the life of a yet to be publicly identified 61 year old driver who Mazion’s car collided with. According to TMZ, the Texas Department of Public Safety claims “Mazion was travelling in his 2010 Cadillac STS at around 9:40 p.m.when, suddenly, he crossed the center median into oncoming traffic.” TMZ noted the Department as staying “it’s unclear to law enforcement what caused Mazion to go off course.”
Although Mazion never reached the heights he appeared to be capable of attaining, he’ll always stick in my mind as being extremely personable – something that’s not always the case with interview subjects. Our interview was conducted on speaker phone, and even my wife couldn’t help but comment after about what a genuinely nice person Mazion seemed to be. As we drove off afterwards, I told her that the kid gave me a real good vibe, both in and out of the ring, that I felt he could really go places. Ring greatness may not have been achieved, but such things are far from all there is to define a person by.
“I’m not the kind of fighter,” Mazion told me, “who’s going to talk crap and call you out…I’m a people person. I get along with anyone or anybody.”
A good legacy to leave, with or without ring glory. Rest in Peace.
Can Keith Thurman Handle The Truth?
By: Kirk Jackson
Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-1, 22 KO’s) aims to not only get back on the winning track, but also targets to stake claim as top dog in this current wave of a welterweights in what is considered one of boxing’s historic divisions.
As of late, Thurman is keeping busy, barking threats at the top guy in the division.
“I’m ready to get back in with all this competition,” Thurman told boxing publication, Pep Talk UK.
“My mind mentally would love a rematch with Manny Pacquiao. I think it’s a worthy rematch and a deserved rematch. It’s an epic fight… It’s whatever doors will open. If I have to fight a Shawn Porter, Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia. I’d be surprised if Errol Spence hops on the table right away, but there are so many opportunities.”
That quote featured five names, all five fighters great in their own way. But there is one fighter among the bunch that sticks out as a thorn in Thurman’s side.
Enter “The Truth” Errol Spence Jr. (26-0, 21 KO’s). The undefeated, unified IBF and WBC welterweight champion, is noted for telling foes to “Keep that same energy,” essentially stating to hold on to the same stance held before and after the action that transpires.
Spence also happens to be one of the main names linked to Thurman over the past several years.
Following the actions of Thurman, or career trajectory as far as fight selection, and the lack of the fight transpiring between him and Spence over the past several years, there may be an understanding level of skepticism, upon hearing recent proclamations from the former welterweight champion.
“Errol [Spence] going to have to give me my respect one way or another. If he doesn’t want to see me at 147, he’s going to have to leave the division.”
After all this time, does anyone believe Thurman is in an immediate rush to face Spence? With lucrative opportunities and legacy defining fights awaiting Spence in the welterweight division, why would Spence leave this weight class? What leverage does Thurman hold, to force Spence out of the division?
Is Thurman serious, or is he clout chasing?
This is the fight game and business ideally must match the needs of each respective team before opposing sides can come to an agreement, but business and politics aside, Thurman never appeared in a hurry, to face what many fans and experts considered to be Thurman’s toughest challenger.
Well that was until Thurman faced Pacquiao, in what was a highly competitive, razor thin decision in favor of the senator from the Philippines.
And speaking of Pac-Man, it can be argued for the past several years, Spence has been chasing around Thurman, Spence portraying Pac-Man and Thurman portraying one of those ghosts chased around, once Pac-Man absorbs an energizer.
Thurman like other fellow fighters, athletes and everyone generally speaking, is plagued with issues from this pandemic. But even aside from that particular problem, Thurman’s lack of activity, is apparent over the past stretch of years.
Dating back to July of 2015, Thurman has only competed five times.
Injuries have also tampered with Thurman’s reign as world champion. Questions aimed at his durability and physical health, dedication and focus to the sport, have come into question in recent years. According to his own testimony, he was injured in most of his recent fights. The mental aspect of recovery and rehabilitation is a war in itself.
“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.”
With inquiries relating to his history of injuries, along with data to support certain claims, some observers are wondering if he will return to the form that earned him decision wins over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. The same form, that enabled Thurman to hold multiple welterweight titles at one time.
It’s fairly reasonable for someone to question Thurman’s true intentions regarding his desire to face Spence.
The truth is, Thurman is a talented fighter. Thurman is intelligent, has a gift of gab and is as entertaining with his words, as he is with his punches. That is a rare, complimentary combination.
But the truth may also be, Thurman is no longer the top guy across his division and at this moment in time, not even in the conversation. Words and accomplishments from yesteryear can only carry you so far. This is a what have you done for me lately kind of business.
Although boasting close wins over Porter and Garcia, they may be positioned with greater opportunities comparatively to Thurman. Due to their level of activity, success, public perception, durability and fortune of good health, they are positioned to take fights against Mikey Garcia, Errol Spence, or even Terence Crawford.
Due to inactivity and uncertainty, some may argued Thurman has faltered below to the second tier of elite welterweight. That talented group of fighters featuring Jessie Vargas, Yordenas Ugas, Sergey Lipnets, Adrien Broner, among a few others.
An additional problem for the former champion, is another wave of welterweights may be on the way soon. Josh Taylor, Regis Prograis and Jose Ramirez may move up within the next year or so adding more muscle to the division. The young guns Jaron Ennis and Vergil Ortiz are also waiting in the wing.
With this infusion of talent and additional depth added to the weight class, “One Time” may be on limited time.
As far as securing a showdown with “The Truth,” tables have turned indeed and it is Thurman allegedly giving chase to the opportunity that lies in wait with Spence.
“Everyone is gunning for him, and if he wants to stay champion, he’s going to have to answer to everybody or follow after his predecessor and dodge everybody and pick who he chooses,” Thurman said. “He’s faced some of my competition, but he’s never faced me. I did that with Errol when he fought Shawn Porter. I got a lot of people that think the way I beat Porter was better.”
Only difference is, Spence verbally expresses the interest to face his challengers and so far, is backing up his talk.
The predecessor Thurman is referring to, in Floyd Mayweather, defeated 24 world champions, won 11 world titles, five weight classes, etc.
Albeit Thurman never got his shot, Mayweather obviously faced his fair share of top-level competition. And for argument sake, Mayweather beat a younger version of the same fighter who handed Thurman his first professional defeat.
The truth is, given Thurman’s high intellect, there’s more than what meets the eye with his recent proclamations.
All roads through welterweight must eventually go through Errol Spence. Time will tell if Keith “One Time” Thurman can handle the truth.
Undeterred: Mikaela Mayer and Her Mission Towards the Top
By: Kirk Jackson
Mikaela Mayer (13-0, 5 KO’s) returned Tuesday evening on ESPN via Top Rank Boxing, headlining an event that was slated to feature defending WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring (21-2, 10 KO’s) vs. Jonathan Oquendo (31-6, 19 KO’s).
The 2016 U.S. Olympian and current unbeaten junior lightweight contender, comprehensively out-boxed Nigeria’s Helen Joseph (17-4-2, 10 KO’s) over 10 rounds in their main even at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
Mayer made history in the process, becoming the first female bout to headline a show on ESPN since Top Rank began its output deal in 2017.
At slated earlier, Herring was scheduled to defend his 130-pound title versus Puerto Rico’s Oquendo, but plans were nixed with a positive coronavirus test result. The 34-year old southpaw tested positive on June 20, thus postponing their July 2 bout by 12 days. The second test result surfaced shortly before Monday’s weigh-in, ultimately cancelling the bout.
Mayer, can relate to Herring’s struggle and received encouraging words and support heading into her bout last night from the champ. Part of Mayer’s recent struggles based around inactivity, were the cancellations and postponements she encountered leading up to this fight.
Mayer lost out on two fight dates due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The initial outbreak cancelled her plans for a fight with former featherweight titlist Melissa Hernandez this past St. Patrick’s Day in New York City, while a false positive test postponed her originally scheduled June 9 bout with Joseph.
The cancellations are well documented, but the Olympian is no stranger to adversity. Growing up one of three daughters, her upbringing and hardships encountered helped mold and instill the tenacity and dedication Mayer fights with.
Without her coach, she still performed well, with coaches Kay Koroma and Manny Robles filling in his absence.
Mayer displayed her talents, showcasing versatility, adaptability and consistency against a former world champion and current top contender. On average, Mayer landed more than 50 punches per round, landing 195 of 538 total punches at a 36% rate, while limiting the game Joseph, to 86 of 377 (23%).
Obvious highlights from Mayer display her stiff jab, right uppercuts she was able to sneak in, hooks downstairs, hooking off the jab, and fluid foot movement. Mayer was able to fight at her range and pace for most of the fight. The control of those aspects, are due to her improved foot work and overall progression.
The ability to recognize subtle moves, actions and reactions from the opponent, while implementing successful changes in such a quick span of time, is a reflection of intelligence meeting skill. To apply this collection of tools against top tier opposition at the highest level of the sport, is the fruition that Mayer is ready for a shot at the world title.
Moving forward, can Mayer receive the fights she is seeking and that ultimate achievement of capturing a world title?
“Honestly, I’m a little offended that you guys thought it would be competitive,” Mayer told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna during her post-fight interview. “It tells me that you guys underestimated me.”
“Bob (Arum) told me ‘Nice job’ and that my next fight will be for the title,” insists Mayer. “I told him I’m going to hold him to his word. Don’t let Eddie Hearn out buy us.”
Now the question begs, what is her future? The pandemic definitely complicates matters, with restrictions to travel among other issues. It’s clear the ESPN headliner, is deserving of a title shot. If Mayer can manifest her destiny that started over a decade ago, capturing a world title, can she catapult into super star status?
Her 2016 Olympic teammate Claressa Shields is blazing trails and creating history. Mayer aims to add more history of her own. Women’s boxing is packed with talent and this is an opportune time for these athletes to receive much deserved attention.
The sport is filled with outstanding legends, champions and challengers alike. The aforementioned Shields, Amanda Serrano, Franchon Crews Dezurn, Christina Hammer, Katie Taylor, Raquel Miller, Cecilia Braekhus, Hannah Gabriels, Mariana Juárez, Debora Anahí López, Yésica Bopp, Jennifer Han, Terri Harper, Mary McGee, Jessica McCaskill, Marie-Ève Dicaire, Elin Cederroos, Heather Hardy, Delfine Persoon, Sulem Urbina and many, many others.
Now it’s a matter of continuing the evolution of the sport and continuing elevate the level of recognition to higher plateaus.
Mayer mentioned reaching heights similar to former UFC champion Ronda Rousey. While sharing some common traits, their paths ultimately differ and the world is different now than when Rousey took the world by storm.
The odds of Mayer replicating that comparative measure of success may be more challenging provided this set of circumstances. Ultimately reaching goals and defining success and is up for interoperation for the individual.
Regardless of the outcome and what transpires down the road, Mayer appears ready to take on challenge no matter how daunting and she will not be denied.
Boxing is Back: Foster vs. Beech Preview
By: Oliver McManus
Boxing returns to British soil for the first time since March with a five fight card broadcast live on BT Sport and, in the States, ESPN+. Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren leads the way with two title fights on Friday night beamed from the BT Sport Studios.
Lichfield’s Brad Foster tops the bill in defense of his British and Commonwealth super bantamweight titles with James Beech Jr in the opposite corner. Foster, 22 years old, has already produced a memorable performance in 2020: he stopped Lucien Reid in six rounds of their rematch back in February. That fight, if we’re honest, was largely built up as Reid’s opportunity to “right some wrongs” from the majority draw they fought to in September.
Foster hushed any remaining critics with a performance much more mature than his years. His well-measured approach to the sport is a testament to his tough paper round of development: this will be his sixth title fight on the bounce in which he’s defeated a former British champion, a defending Commonwealth champion and two unbeaten contenders.
Bloxwich’s James Beech is another young fighter looking to seize big opportunities. The 23 year old is a two weight Midlands Area champion – at super feather and featherweight – but told Boxing Insider before this fight was made that he felt super bantamweight suited him best. His last bout was in December 2019 with a tough ten rounds against Luke Jones. That fight, for the Midlands super featherweight belt, saw Beech develop over the second half of the fight and, you suspect, over 12 rounds the gap would have widened.
Long and rangy super welterweight Hamzah Sheeraz defends his WBO European title against Paul Kean in a contest scheduled for ten rounds. Sheeraz has been touted by Warren for a long time as possessing something special and, at 21 years of age, he’s got plenty of time to show it. He collected the first title of his career in November with a sixth round stoppage of Ryan Kelly: a fight in which Sheeraz looked really spiteful and chomping at the bit for a stoppage.
Dundee’s Paul Keen is a wee shorter – by two inches at 6ft even – than his counterpart but carries that southpaw nuisance in his back pocket. The 27 year old, a professional for four years, has boxed largely out of Paisley’s Lagoon Leisure Centre but has never ducked a challenge; half of his fights against men with positive records or for a title of sorts. The sole loss on Keen’s record came against Stefan Sanderson, who passed away on June 23rd, for the Scottish title in September 2018.
Three hot prospects will feature on the undercard with hard hitting Mark Chamberlain up against Stu Greener over six rounds whilst heavyweight action comes courtesy of Dorin Krasmaru vs Phil Williams and David Adeleye vs Matt Gordon.
Alejandro Reyes: “It’s Time For Business.”
By: Sean Crose
Last Valentines Day, at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, Ryan Garcia impressed his five million Instagram followers by decimating Francisco Fonseca in the opening round. Yet there was another fighter plying his trade on the DAZN that evening that brought a bit of attention of his own. No, Alejandro Reyes didn’t have untold thousands of fans in the stands earlier that night when he stepped into the ring to face Nelson Colon in a scheduled four rounder…but he had a considerable, and vocal, group of individuals present to cheer him on. Not bad for a fighter entering the night with a record of 2-0.
“Basically everybody’s family,” the lightweight prospect, now 3-0, tells me. “We consider them family.” Family is an important concept to the 21 year old Reyes. For instance, after his daily morning run – he trains six days a week – Reyes generally takes his sister to school. What’s more, boxing is essentially a family affair for the Reyes clan. “I had just turned eight,” he says of his beginnings in the fight game.“My pops is the one who took me. My sisters all fought.” Having engaged in “about 84,85 fights” as an amateur, Reyes was able to earn some valuable experience. “You go to the fights,” he says of the amateurs, “go to the tournaments.”
One of the notable things about the February card at the Honda Center was the determination visible in Reyes’ eyes before the opening bell. Simply put, some fighters appear focused and menacing before a bout, and some don’t. Count Reyes among the former. “I felt confident,” he says of that night, “because I did my work at the gym.” Fair enough. “It just developed across my boxing career,” he says of his pre fight expression. “I don’t think I try to intentionally do that. It’s time for business.” I ask him if nerves were an issue before the Colon bout. This was Reyes first time on a major streaming event, after all. “It didn’t click til after the fight,” he states, “where I was fighting and the magnitude of the event.”
Now that boxing is emerging, albeit slowly, from it’s deep pandemic freeze, there will be plenty of time for the undefeated young fighter to grow. With at least one major promotional outlet having Reyes on it’s radar, it’s clear people are taking note of his ring skills already. Having referred to the Colon fight as one of the biggest nights of his life, it’s obvious Reyes intends to have many more big nights in the future.