Boxing Insider Notebook: Canelo, Prograis, Bivol, Pascal, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of October 9th to October 16th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Tom Hogan-HoganPhotos/Golden Boy Promotions
Canelo Alvarez Receives WBC Middleweight Title in Mexico City
Canelo Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) received his WBC Middleweight World Title today at Museo Soumaya in Mexico City in recognition of his spectacular victory against Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in September. Canelo also received the Cinturon Chiapaneco and the Cinturon Huichol at this momentous event as he prepares to return to the ring. The 28-year-old WBC, WBA, Lineal and Ring Magazine Middleweight World Champion will take on WBA Super Middleweight World Champion Rocky Fielding (27-1, 15 KOs) in a special 12-round super middleweight attraction on Saturday, Dec. 15 at Madison Square Garden.
Below is what today’s participants had to say at the belt presentation:
CANELO ALVAREZ, WBC, WBA, Lineal and Ring Magazine Middleweight World Champion:
“I want to thank everyone for their support during the good times and the bad. It was a tough year for me. I would never do anything to blemish my career, but I’m grateful to all those who were there with me. I’m going to represent the WBC from here on. They’ve been my family since the beginning. It’s a great responsibility to be a Mexican world champion. But I take that responsibility because I know I’m a determined and disciplined fighter. I honor every fighter who has fought at Madison Square Garden, but I’m going to make my own story. This is another chapter in my legacy.
JOSE “CHEPO” REYNOSO, Manager and Trainer of Canelo Alvarez:
“The past 13 years of Canelo Alvarez’s career has not been easy. It has been difficult. But when you have a lot of determination like he does, it makes the hard road that much easier. We completed the promise of making him a world champion because he completed his part of working hard. I thank everyone here and the sport of boxing.”
EDDY REYNOSO, Head Trainer and Manager of Canelo Alvarez:
“I’m grateful and thankful for all that Canelo Alvarez has achieved. I thank Mauricio Sulaiman and the WBC for their help. They’ve supported us all along the way. We’re proud of what he has accomplished, and we know there is more to come.”
ERIC GOMEZ, President of Golden Boy Promotions:
“We’ve worked with Canelo Alvarez since he was a very young prospect. He was hungry and determined to be great. To see him achieve that greatness is a wonderful thing to see. I congratulate him on this exciting day for him.”
MAURICIO SULAIMAN, President of the WBC:
“Canelo shut a lot of mouths in his last fight. He quieted a lot of critics who said he did not come forward. But in his last fight he showed with his fists and his aggression that he is the better fighter. Canelo is always first to raise the Mexican flag after a victory and yell Viva Mexico! I am so proud he is representing the WBC once again.”
Canelo vs. Fielding is a 12-round fight for the WBA Super Middleweight World Title presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Matchroom Boxing. The event is sponsored by Tecate, “THE OFFICIAL BEER OF BOXING,” and Hennessy “Never Stop. Never Settle.” The event will take place Saturday, December 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
Prograis Makes Brief Stop Home Before Upcoming Fight
Since the Crescent City last saw native son Regis “Rougarou” Prograis in the ring in July, it’s been a whirlwind for the rising star of boxing’s super lightweight division.
Prograis has been to Russia, Brazil and then in training for nearly six weeks in both Los Angeles and Houston as he counts down to an Oct. 27 matchup with Englishman Terry Flanagan at UNO Lakefront Arena.
“I started training camp two weeks earlier,” Prograis said Wednesday in a visit with local media. “I had to go to Russia on Tuesday (after his last fight). When I came back, I went back to Houston and bought a house. I barely stayed in my house for a couple of days, then I went to Brazil for a month … I was training MMA and jiu jitsu. I was back in Houston for a week, then off to (Los Angeles) for training camp.”
The longer camp allowed Prograis and trainer Bobby Benton to change the focus initially.
“As we start camp, we usually start with strength and conditioning,” Benton said. “Instead, we worked his feet. His feet are so much better, his balance is better. It’s made a difference.”
Prograis was wearing a reminder of how difficult training for the fight has been, showing a mark below his left eye as a result of a “little pop” in training Tuesday.
“My training camps are really, really hard,” Prograis said. “My body is sore.”
It’s the second consecutive fight at Lakefront Arena for Prograis, who dispatched Juan Jose Velasco in an eighth-round TKO in the headline event of New Orleans’ first championship fight card in nearly two decades.
“My whole goal is to turn it into a franchise,” Prograis said. “We got the Saints, the Pelicans, and hopefully now we’ll have Regis Prograis.”
A win against Flanagan could mean a return to New Orleans for his next bout.
Prograis, who is 22-0 in his career with 19 knockouts, is not only the No. 1 seed in the super lightweight bracket for the Ali Trophy, but ranked No. 1 in the 140-pound division by ESPN. As the top seed, he had a choice of opponents and picked Flanagan (33-1, 13 KOs).
“I’m in it to fight the best people,” Prograis said. “Terry Flanagan is tough, he’s scrappy, he’s going to come to right and he has a lot of experience. I wanted to fight the hardest fight first.”
If his first fight in his hometown taught Prograis anything, it was to watch what he eats right before the fight. What will he do differently this time? “Don’t eat po-boys and gumbo before I fight,” he said. “Otherwise, everything went smoothly. I experienced (nervousness) already, so that’s done. This time, it’s going to be back being fun to me again.”
If Prograis can win the Ali Trophy – the final would likely happen around June 2019 – he has in his sight a matchup with fellow unbeaten Jose Ramirez (23-0). Prograis attended Ramirez’s fight last month in Fresno, California.
Prograis and his team were headed back to Houston late Wednesday to resume training before returning to New Orleans in the days leading up to the fight.
The Prograis-Flanagan co-headliner is another Ali Trophy super-lightweight quarterfinal between Ivan Baranchyk and Anthony Yigit for the IBF world championship.
The undercard is expected to begin at 6 p.m., with the two main events at about 9. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and the Lakefront Arena box office.
Dmitry Bivol to Defend WBA Title Against Jean Pascal in Atlantic City
Dmitry Bivol will defend his WBA Light Heavyweight World Title against former Olympian and former WBC, IBO, and Ring Magazine champion Jean Pascal on Saturday, November 24, 2018 as boxing returns to Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.
The event will be promoted by Main Events and World of Boxing, Bivol’s promoter, in association with Jean Pascal Promotions. The bout will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Bivol, age 27, of St. Petersburg Russia, risks his perfect record of 14 wins with no losses and 11 knockouts against the time-tested Pascal, who turns 36 on October 28, has 33 wins, 20 by knockout, against five losses and a draw.
Bivol is coming off a dominating 12-round decision victory over crafty Isaac Chilemba of Malawi on August 4. Pascal is fresh from an eighth round TKO over former UFC champion Steve Bosse at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec on July 20.
After storming through the amateur ranks, Bivol has quickly moved himself into position to take over the highly competitive light heavyweight division by facing top names and defeating them, one after the other. Bivol is open about his ambitious goals to fight all of the best opponents in the division, and to deliver entertaining fights in front of large audiences.
Bivol’s ultimate goal to unify the light heavyweight division: “It’s very important for me. It’s every boxer’s dream to be the champion, the unified champion. It’s a big step to dream about. Like (unified cruiserweight champion) Oleksandr Usyk.”
Although he has a humble nature, Bivol is sure about his abilities. “Not too long ago, Pascal fought for three world titles and I watched on TV. Now he wants to take my title away, and I am very happy to accept this challenge and look forward to my next title defense on HBO.”
Vadim Kornilov, Bivol’s manager, added, “We are looking forward to another great performance by Dmitry Bivol on November 24th. Jean Pascal is a name everyone has heard, and we look forward to a competitive fight with this great champion.”
Andrei Ryabinski of World of Boxing, Bivol’s promoter, said, “We are glad to be putting together another fight for Dmitry Bivol together with HBO, Main Events and the Hard Rock. Look forward to a great fight between Dmitry Bivol and Jean Pascal!”
“This is the most important fight of my life and I could not be more motivated,” said Pascal. “I’m making boxing history on November 24th. I’m known as a champion who never turned down any challenges, but I want to be two-time champion and I want to be immortalized in the Hall of Fame when my career is over. To fully cement my status as a hall of famer, I must win this fight and I will win this fight.
“Bivol is a very good fighter and a difficult challenge, but greatness has never been achieved without overcoming difficult challenges. My Canadian fans should be very excited because all of the light heavyweight belts will be in our house for Christmas this year,” promised Pascal.
Manager Greg Leon is equally confident. “In my opinion Bivol is the best light heavyweight champion in the world, so this is an extremely difficult challenge for us. However, Jean is fighting for the hall of fame, history and legacy. That coupled with the intangibles he possesses that cannot be taught make him the most dangerous fighter Bivol has ever faced by far.
“November 24th will provide Bivol with a couple of new experiences; he’ll be fighting in his first major main event and he’ll be suffering his first loss as a professional,” said Leon.
Main Events CEO Kathy Duva said, “Main Events could not be more excited to return to Atlantic City for our second card at the Hard Rock’s Etess Arena. Our first card there on August 4 was a sellout, and we expect to build on that momentum by bringing Dmitry back to be in the main event on November 24.”
“Following up on the success of last August’s fight between Alvarez and Kovalev, this will just be another step forward in Atlantic City’s return to professional boxing,” says Bernie Dillon, Vice President of Entertainment for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, “I’m thrilled that Hard Rock can be a big part of that.”
Ruben Villa Shines on Front of Hometown Fans on Saturday Night
Featherweight Ruben Villa (14-0, 5 KOs) returned to his hometown for the second time in his career and delivered a thrilling, one-sided performance against the game Miguel Carrizoza (10-4, 2 KOs) Saturday night from a sold-out Storm House in Salinas, Calif.
Villa, 21, used terrific footwork to find the angles against Carrizoza in route to a sweep of the scorecards in the 8-round main event. Throughout the fight, Villa hammered Carrizoza with a stiff jab, followed by a thundering left hand. It was an outstanding display of accuracy for the southpaw in his fifth fight of the year.
“I felt great tonight,” said Villa, who is promoted by Banner Promotions and Thompson Boxing. “Everything was clicking. The guy was tough. I landed a lot of good shots and he came coming back. I’m very happy with my performance. I put on a great show for my hometown fans.”
To watch a replay of Villa’s dominant performance, please click here
Villa, who has been as active as possible since joining the professional ranks in 2016, looked as comfortable as he ever has.
“I’m gaining more and more confidence with each win,” Villa said. “I like where I’m at right now.”