Boxing Insider Notebook: Fox, Wilder, Ortiz, Hart, Smith, and more…
Compiled by: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of November 12th to November 19th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions
<strong>Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz Make Grand Arrivals at MGM Grand </strong>
WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder and Cuban slugger Luis “King Kong” Ortiz made their grand arrivals Tuesday at MGM Grand as they kicked off fight week events ahead of their highly anticipated rematch that headlines a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View this Saturday, November 23 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“We’re all here to see what’s going to happen on Saturday night,” said Wilder. “Even though I knocked Ortiz out the first time, it was an amazing fight. That was the fight that I was challenged the most during. I understand why none of the other heavyweights want to fight Ortiz.
“He’s very dangerous and I blessed him with a second chance,” continued Wilder. “Fans always get their money’s worth when I’m on the big stage. Because people know what I’m able to do to another human being inside of that ring. I can’t wait for Saturday night.”
“Deontay Wilder is a throwback fighter like me, and we both want to fight the best,” said Ortiz. “I believe I’m the best and that’s why I’m getting this rematch. I’m focused on this fight and this fight only and doing everything to have my hand raised Saturday night.
“My life has changed tremendously and for the better since I came to the United States from Cuba,” said Ortiz. “Being in the U.S. has allowed me to focus on my two dreams, finding a cure for my daughter’s disease and becoming heavyweight champion of the world. That’s always been my mission.”
Also making their grand arrivals at MGM Grand were fighters competing on the pay-per-view undercard that begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Three-division champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz is looking to win a title in a fourth division when he takes on Miguel “El Michoacan” Flores for the WBA Super Featherweight Championship in the co-main event.
The pay-per-view also features undefeated rising star Brandon “The Heartbreaker” Figueroa defending his WBA Super Bantamweight Title against former champion Julio Ceja while undefeated Mexican power-puncher Luis Nery battles Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodríguez in a showdown of former bantamweight champions.
<strong> Jesse Hart-Joe Smith Jr. to Clash in Light Heavyweight Showdown at Hard Rock Atlantic City January 11 Live on ESPN</strong>
This one is personal. Jesse “Hollywood” Hart, born and bred in Philadelphia, will take on Joe Smith Jr. Saturday, Jan. 11 from Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena in the 10-round main event, which will kick off the 2020 Top Rank on ESPN schedule.
It was Smith, the union construction worker from Long Island, who knocked Philadelphia legend Bernard Hopkins through the ropes and into retirement in December 2016. For Hart, who considers Hopkins a mentor, this fight is more than a step towards a world title shot.
ESPN and ESPN Deportes will televise Hart-Smith Jr. and a co-feature beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, with undercard action slated for ESPN+ beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Star Boxing, tickets priced at $100, $60, $40 and $25 (not including applicable fees) go on sale Friday, Nov. 22 at 10 a.m. ET and can be purchased by visiting www.ticketmaster.com and www.hardrockhotelatlanticcity.com.
“When you have two fighters who can punch like heck, anything can happen,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “We believe Jesse Hart has everything it takes to become a world champion, but Joe Smith Jr. can turn the lights out at any moment. This is a sensational main event to kick off the Top Rank schedule in 2020.”
“This is personal. Bernard inspired me to be what I became,” Hart said. “I wouldn’t be right if didn’t avenge that defeat. I can’t move forward unless I beat him. This is a Philly thing. It’s more personal than business for me. I want a world title shot at light heavyweight, but I have to get through this guy first.”
“I am back in the gym and feel great,” Smith said. “I am focused and ready to bring everything I have. Jesse Hart might want to make this personal, but I didn’t even know who he was before this fight was brought up. I am ready for this. It is going to be a great night.”
“I look forward to a thrilling, fan-friendly fight in Atlantic City on ESPN Jan. 11,” said Star Boxing CEO Joe DeGuardia, Smith’s promoter. “Jesse Hart is Philly tough, but I love watching Joe Smith Jr. fight as his amazing punching power always puts him 10 seconds away from a KO win. It will be a rocking night at the Hard Rock Hotel.”
Hart (26-2, 21 KOs) is making his triumphant return to Atlantic City, where he is 7-0 with 7 knockouts. He twice challenged for the super middleweight world title previously held by Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, but he came up short via a pair of close decision defeats. Following the second Ramirez loss in December 2018, Hart moved up to the light heavyweight ranks and announced his arrival with a 10-round decision victory over Sullivan Barrera on the Tyson Fury-Tom Schwarz undercard.
Smith (24-3, 20 KOs) was boxing’s “Cinderella Man” in 2016, upsetting Andrzej Fonfara via first-round TKO to earn the shot at Hopkins. He proved the Fonfara win was no fluke, as he bullied Hopkins around the ring before a combination knocked him through the ropes. Smith is coming off a decision loss to WBA light heavyweight world champion Dmitry Bivol, although he buzzed Bivol on several occasions in the championship rounds.
<strong>Omar Juarez Training Camp Quotes </strong>
Rising super lightweight prospect Omar Juarez shared his thoughts on training camp, his upcoming matchup and more before he battles Kevin Shacks this Saturday, November 23 in FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View Prelims on FS2 and FOX Deportes from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Prelims begin at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT and is headlined by undefeated Cuban contender Leduan Barthelemy squaring off against former title challenger Eduardo Ramirez. Plus, 17-year-old sensation Vito Mielnicki Jr. compets in a four-round welterweight bout against North Carolina’s Marklin Bailey.
Prelims precede the pay-per-view event headlined by boxing’slongest reigning heavyweight world champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder defending his WBC title in a rematch against once-beaten Cuban slugger Luis “King Kong” Ortiz. Three-division champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz will seek a title in another division in the co-main event when he takes on Miguel “El Michoacan” Flores for the WBA Super Featherweight Championship as part of pay-per-view action beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by BombZquadPromotions, TGB Promotions and Mayweather Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased at www.mgmgrand.com or www.axs.com.
The 20-year-old Juarez (5-0, 3 KOs) fights out of his hometown of Brownsville, Texas and most recently stopped Gino De la Paz in the first round in August. Here is what Juarez had to say ahead of his Saturday showdown:
On his recent training camp:
“I had another great training camp going into this fight. I spent some time in Houston and San Antonio getting good sparring with some of the top guys in those areas. I’m in great shape and my body is healthy.”
On his upcoming fight with Kevin Shacks:
“I don’t know much about Shacks except that he has a lot of power. All his wins have come by knockout, so I know he’s dangerous. I’m still going to go in there and dictate the pace with my game plan. My goal is to knock him out.”
On fighting in Las Vegas on FS2:
“This is a dream come true for me and my dad. We’ve always talked about fighting in Las Vegas under the big lights. To top it off I’ll be fighting on FS2 in front of a large televised audience. All my people back home are having parties showing my fight, so this is a big blessing for my career. I’m truly grateful.”
On the state of the super lightweight division:
“The 140 pound division is loaded with talent and I think it’s one of toughest in boxing. Mario Barrios is a beast, Josh Taylor just showed the world what he’s about by beating Regis Prograis, and Jose Ramirez is no joke. The entire division is stacked and one day I’ll be right up there with all those guys.”
<strong> Star Boxing’s William Silva to Fight on ESPN on November 30th </strong>
Star Boxing is pleased to announce the signing of WILLIAM “BABY FACE” SILVA (27-2 15KO’s), who will be closing out 2019 with a bang when he faces undefeated California-born, ARNOLD BARBOZA JR (22-0 9KO’s) at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas on November 30, to be featured on ESPN.
Hailing from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Silva has had an impressive amateur and professional career. Over his 29 professional bouts, the super lightweight has held titles such as the IBO Intercontinental Lightweight Championship, WBO Latino Welterweight and Lightweight Championship, NBA Lightweight Championship and is the current ABF Continental Americas Champion.
Silva began his boxing career well before his professional debut in 2006. At the age of 7, Silva’s father brought him to a local boxing gym and he never looked back. “My father was a boxer” said Silva, “he fought, as did my brothers.” Silva’s brother, Michele Silva is a professional boxer, fighting out of Brazil. As an amateur, Silva represented his home country as a member of the Brazil Olympic training team. He boasted a stellar amateur record of 135-5.
Campaigning most of his career at lightweight, Silva has had great success since moving from his native Brazil, making Florida his home away from home. Fighting prospects such as Felix Verdejoand Teofimo Lopez, Silva never hides from a challenge. In his last two bouts, Silva steamrolled Joe Forero, dominating the entire fight, ending with a 9th round TKO earning the ABF Continental America’s Title. In February it was more of the same for Silva, as he dominated a 10-round unanimous decision over the tough Juan Ramon Solis (then 25-13 9KO’s). (100-90 (x2), 98-91).
William Silva said this about signing with Star Boxing, “I am extremely excited and grateful to sign a contract with Star Boxing and feel really motivated to show the world that I belong in World Championship fights. I live and train in Plant City Florida, with a great coach Jose Rodriguez, my manager Jody Caliguire, and our entire team is awesome. I am ready to get back to the top of the rankings. I know I can beat anyone in the world.”
Silva is preparing to return to the ring in a thriller against top rated undefeated Barboza in an ESPN bout from the majestic Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas on November 30. Having last fought in February of 2019, Silva is chomping at the bit to get back into the ring.
Manager JODY CALIGUIRE had this to say about Silva signing with Star Boxing, “Team Silva is very happy to have signed promotional contract with Star Boxing. We look forward to competing on great events and having the opportunity to compete soon for a world title. At 27-2, with 15 KO’S, Silva is a proven excellent boxer. We want a world title shot in the near future. Silva, now lives and trains in Florida, and we have the team in place to insure each time he walks in the ring he will be ready to win and convincingly. This man is a true professional and great boxer. Thank you to Joe DeGuardia for allowing us to be part of your great team.”
CEO JOE DEGUARDIA said this about signing Silva, “Silva is a very talented fighter who we are very excited to work with. We believe that with the team we have in place, the sky is the limit for Silva, and we are looking forward to closing out 2019 with a great fight in Las Vegas on ESPN!”
<strong> Welterweight Mykal Fox Takes on Johnny Arellano on Friday, December 6th </strong>
World-Ranked welterweight Mykal Fox will take on Johnny Arellano in the 10-round main event on Friday night, December 6th at The 2300 Arena in Philadelphia.
The nine-bout card will be promoted by King’s Promotions.
Fox of Forestville. Maryland is ranked number-15 by the WBA, has a record of 21-1 with five knockouts.
The 24 year-old Fox is a five year professional and has garnered his world ranking on the strength of wins over Ricardo Garcia (14-1), Gonzalo Carlos Dallera (5-0), 2016 Olympic Gold Medal Winner Fazliddin Gainazarov (7-0) and in his last bout, Fox won a 10-round unanimous decision over Eudy Bernardo (25-4) on September 14th in Bethlehem, PA.
Arellano of Conroe, Texas has a record of 10-1 with nine knockouts. The 27 year-old Arellano is a nine-year pro who has wins over undefeated foes D’Angelo Keys (7-0) and his bout when he won a decision over Xavier Wilson (10-0-1) on March 28th in San Antonio.
In the eight-round co-feature, undefeated super middleweight Kalvin Henderson will take on Genc Pllana.
Henderson of Fayetville, Arkansas has a record of 12-0 with eight knockouts.
The 29 year-old is a three year professional, and has had a meteoric climb up the super middleweight latter.
Henderson has wins over Bobby Taylor (4-0) and Brandon Robinson in a bout that was voted Philadelphia Fight of the Year for 2018. In his last bout, Henderson stopped Antowyan Aikens on May 10th at the 2300 Arena.
Pllana of Hagerstown, Maryland has a record of 7-1 with four knockouts.
The 25 year-old is a two-year professional who has defeated Jason Bell (3-0) and in his last bout, Pllana stopped Alex Lara in one-round on October 24th in Washington, DC.
A packed undercard has been assembled as some very talented fighters will be on display.
In eight-round bouts, WBA Number-10 ranked super bantamweight Marcus Bates (10-1-1, 8 KOs) of Washington, DC battles Jesus Martinez (26-10, 13 KOs) of Hollywood, Florida.
Shinard Bunch (4-1, 4 KOs) of Trenton, NJ takes on an opponent to be named in a six-round welterweight bout.
Undefeated Devar Ferhadi (7-0, 6 KOs) of Frederick, Maryland will square off with fellow undefeated Vincent Baccus (4-0-1, 3 KOs) of Okmulgee, OK in a super middleweight bout.
In four-round bouts:
Ryan Umberger (3-0, 3 KOs) of Philadelphia battles an opponent to be named in middleweight contest.
Brandon Mullins (6-0, 2 KOs) will box Juan Zapata (6-17-2, 4 KOs) of Bronx, NY in a super middleweight bout.
Martino Jules (7-0, 1 KO) of Allentown, PA will take on an opponent to be named in a featherweight contest
Shamar Fulton (4-0-1, 3 KOs) of Alhambra, California takes part in a lightweight bout,
Tickets are $100, $75 and $50 and can be purchased at www.2300arena.com