By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of December 23rd to December 30th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Fury Faces Risky Defense Against Top Ranked Hammer at the 02 Arena
Undefeated heavyweight destroyer Tyson Fury faces a dangerous test against big-hitting Christian Hammer on Saturday 28th February at London’s 02 arena, live and exclusive on BoxNation.
Fury puts his WBO International title on the line against the WBO number four ranked Hammer in a risky title defence ahead of a projected summer showdown with reigning world champion Wladimir Klitschko.
The Wilmslow giant dismantled Dereck Chisora for the second time last month to win the British and European titles and also secured the number one and mandatory position to Klitschko, who next fights in April, but must then defend his WBO title against Fury.
German based Romanian Hammer, who fights out of the EC Boxing team, is a former WBO European Champion who has 10 stoppages out of 17 wins. He will be looking to cause a huge upset on these shores by being the first to defeat Fury and earn himself a shot at Klitschko.
In his last fight, Hammer defeated then rising, dynamite-hitting, Brazilian prospect Irineu Beato Costa Jnr, who until then had stopped 13 out of 15 opponents early, but Hammer showed that he can box as well as punch by winning every single round of the twelve rounder.
Fury, 25, is not worried by the threat Hammer poses to his dream of fighting for the world title and relishes the challenge that he brings.
“I’ve said all along I’m not like these other fighters in the division who pussy foot around, take soft touches and call themselves fighters,” said Fury.
“I could have taken an easy job at the O2 arena to keep my position safe for my world title fight against Klitschko, but that’s not what Tyson Fury is about or what the public want to see from someone who has promised from day one to win the world heavyweight title,”
“On paper it’s a dangerous job against Hammer, he’s highly ranked, he brings a big punch with him, he’ll have ambitions of his own to beat me and grab himself a world title shot against Klitschko and I’m sure he’ll be full of confidence coming over here,”
“Training for Hammer will start in early January and this year is a big one for me and the world title is in my sight. My focus will be on Hammer now, he’s my priority and the man in the way of my dream,”
“There’s no messing about in the heavyweight division, one punch can turn everything upside down, that goes for him and for me, but I’ve got two things that other fighters lack, a fighting heart and massive balls. I love to fight, if I go down I get up and win, that’s why people love me and want to see me fight. Tyson Fury will never lose, simple.”
Hammer is promising to pull off of a seismic upset.
“I’m grateful for this fantastic opportunity to fight Tyson Fury and I’ll be in the best shape of my life,” says Hammer.
“This is a golden opportunity for me to get the number one position to fight Klitschko for the world title if I can beat Fury. I love to fight bigger, taller, men and Fury is perfect for me. It will be a hard fight, but I’ve got every confidence that I’ll surprise everyone with a win in his backyard.”
Promoter Frank Warren says it’s a tough fight for Fury: “Fury will have his hands full with Hammer who could create a huge shock if he wins. It’s a risky fight for Fury who’s within touching distance of Klitschko and the world title, but Fury needs to keep active by fighting until Klitschko gets his fight in April out of the way and then comes to the table to negotiate the fight with Fury or the fight goes to purse bids.
“Fury needs to concentrate on Hammer and leave the talk of Klitschko after he’s dealt with Hammer.”
Shumenov Ready to Challenge Cruiserweight Champions
Combining the invaluable experience he gained as world light heavyweight champion with a different style of boxing introduced to him by his new head trainer, Ismael Salas, Beibut Shumenov used his impressive cruiserweight debut Dec. 13 to prove his legitimacy as a world title contender in the 200-pound division.
Shumenov (15-2, 10 KOs), a former World Boxing Association (WBA) light heavyweight champion and 2004 Kazakhstan Olympian, outclassed opponent Bobby Thomas, Jr. (14-3, 9 KOs) on his way to victory by way of a fifth-round technical knockout.
“It’s much easier for me fighting at 200 pounds than 175,” Shumenov explained. “My body couldn’t take it anymore. When I first came to America seven years ago, I planned to fight as a heavyweight or cruiserweight because I weighed 240-245 pounds. When I moved here to Las Vegas everybody my size were super middleweights and light heavyweights. The decision was made then for me to fight as a light heavyweight.
“I’m not making excuses but I lost 55 pounds for my last fight. I saw opportunities but my body failed me. I wanted to throw punches but my body didn’t respond. I made a decision to move up to cruiserweight and also added a great head coach, Ismael Salas. He teaches the Cuban boxing style and (assistant trainer) Jeff (Grmoja) uses an old-school American style. And Rodney Crisler (team member) shares his knowledge, too. I have a great team supporting me.”
The 31-year-old Shumenov, currently the No. 2 rated cruiserweight in the WBA, captured the WBA light heavyweight title January 29, 2010 with a 12-round decision over Gabriel Campillo in only his 10th professional fight, to establish the fewest-fights record for a world light heavyweight champion. Five successful title defenses followed but, the muscular Shumenov had more and more problems making weight, in addition to being self-trained in his last three fights prior to last Saturday’s in Las Vegas.
Equally important as moving up in weight to avoid sapping his strength was adding Salas to his corner. Salas came to the United States 25 years ago and he has trained the likes of Guillermo Rigondeaux, Yuriokis Gamboa, Danny Green, Jesse Vargas and Jorge Linares.
The Cuban boxing style Salas teaches is similar to what Shumenov learned in Kazakhstan developing through its then Soviet Union boxing program. Positive chemistry between the two was immediate and early dividends were evident in Shumenov’s fight against Thomas.
“Most importantly,” Shumenov noted, “I followed the instructions of my coach in this fight. For us, it wasn’t important to knock out my opponent in the first round. This fight was a test for my new style in a real fight. I used my new tools – footwork and more angles to punch. My body listened this fight and it did everything my head wanted to be done. I’m still in the learning process, though.”
“I’m very happy that Beibut was so comfortable and that he stuck to the game plan from the first round until the end,” Salas commented after the fight. “Every fight is a learning experience. We liked what we saw during the fight; Beibut did everything I asked of him.”
The reigning world cruiserweight champions are WBA Denis Lebedev (Russia), IBF Yoan Pablo Hernandez (Germany), WBC Krzysztof Wlodarczyr and WBO Marco Huck (Germany).
Rigondeaux Promises Explosive Fireworks Display on New Year’s Eve in Japan
After enduring a frustrating year in which he has fought only once, unified world super bantamweight champion Guillermo “The Jackal” Rigondeaux (14-0, 9 KOs) is prepared to defend his World Boxing Organization (WBO) title belt this Wednesday, New Year’s Eve, against WBO No. 6 rated challenger Hisashi Amagasa (28-4-2, 19 KOs) at Bodymaker Colosseum in Osaka, Japan.
Rigondeaux, who resides in Miami, is also the World Boxing Association (WBA) Super and The Ring Magazine super bantamweight champion.
The 34-year-old Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Cuba, arrived Dec. 21 in Japan and the pound-for-pound star is extremely grateful for the overwhelmingly warm reception he has received from Japanese boxing fans who’ve watched him train or approached him in Osaka.
Last July in Macao, Rigondeaux successfully defended his WBO/WBA Super titles, destroying challenger Sod Kokietgym (63-2-1) in the opening round of the ultra-skilled Cuban’s lone fight to date in 2014.
The 5′ 10 ½” Amagasa towers over the diminutive Rigondeaux, who is 6 ½ inches shorter than his Japanese opponent. Rigondeaux, however, isn’t concerned in the least about their differences in height because of his past success against many taller foes.
“This is my second time fighting in Asia this year,” Rigondeaux said. “I am very frustrated that the other world belt holders are running scared and won’t fight me. It’s disgraceful that we couldn’t find a world-class, 122-pound fighter to fight me, so I would like to thank Amagasa for dropping down from featherweight to challenge me. I will put on an explosive fireworks display on New Years Eve in Japan.”
‘We have already been offered a fight against another Japanese challenger in Japan this coming May,” Rigondeaux’ manager Gary Hyde added. “Rigondeaux is in tremendous condition, as always, and we are very confident going into this fight on New Year’s Eve that ‘Rigo’ will put on a another stellar performance.
“In January, we will sit down and discuss the terms of a promotional contract that was initially offered to us this past summer and is now back on the table. Hopefully, we will come to an agreement with this promotional company and ‘Rigo’ will be back fighting on mainstream television networks in 2015.”
Hyde also reported that if, as reports have circulated, WBC super bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (20-0-1, 16 KOs) is seriously interested in fighting Rigondeaux, “Rigo” will return from Japan to fight Santa Cruz in a major unification bout January 17 in Las Vegas.
Santa Cruz is scheduled to fight an opponent to be determined in the 12-round co-feature on a card headlined by the WBC heavyweight title fight, airing live from MGM Grand on Showtime, between defending champion Bermane Stiverne and mandatory challenger Deontay Wilder.
Boxcino 2015 Kicks Off on February 13th
The popular boxing elimination tournament, Boxcino 2015, will make its season debut, Friday, February 13, 2015, featuring four quarterfinal bouts in the junior middleweight division at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. The entire Boxicino 2015 series will be televised live on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights.
Promoted by Banner Promotions and Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports (CES), tickets to the February 13 edition of Boxcino 2015, priced at $125, $65, $40 and $30, including facility fee, will go on sale Tomorrow! Saturday, December 27, at 10:00 a.m. ET. Tickets can be purchased via www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, all Ticketmaster outlets or in person at the Mohegan Sun Box Office.
The Boxcino 2014 tournament spawned now world-rated No. 3 breakout stars Willie Monroe and Petr Petrov, as well as future stars Brandon Adams & Fernando Carcamo.
The Boxcino 2015 season debut will feature four quarterfinal bouts, with the winners moving on to semifinals which will take place on April 3.
“We are excited to be coming to the Mohegan Sun to kick off Boxcino 2015,” said Banner Promotions CEO Artie Pelullo. “I have been friends with Tom Cantone for over 15 years and I look forward to working him and his staff on this great event. Last year’s tournament was very successful and we look forward to having the first round of junior middleweights at Mohegan Sun. There have been many classic fights at the Mohegan Sun and on February 13 we plan on adding to the great tradition.”
“We are excited and honored to collaborate with Artie Pelullo and Banner Promotions,” said Jimmy Burchfield, President of CES Boxing.
“Artie is a dear friend of mine and one of the true gentlemen in the sport of boxing. Few promoters work harder or go to such great lengths to nurture and develop talent from all over the world. In an era where the entertainment dollar is stretched thin and fighters are ducking challenges left and right, Artie remains old school, building his foundation through hard-fought, competitive fights that give the ticket-buyer tremendous value for every dollar they spend.
“What he has done in such tumultuous times for our sport is remarkable and it’s an incredible thrill to be working alongside him on what will be an epic event February 13th. You will see the best of both worlds — boxing’s marquee talent along with the rising stars of the northeast. No one knows this market better than Banner Promotions and CES Boxing. This will be a must-see event.”
“We love any time we have a boxing event here as they always account for tremendous energy and buzz in the Casino” – said Tom Cantone, Senior Vice President of Sports & Entertainment for MTGA
The participants of Boxcino will be announced shortly.
Uprising Promotions Returns to Long Island City on February 13th
Ronson Frank’s Uprising Promotions, in association with Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, has confirmed its next show for Friday, February 13th, at the Five Star Banquet Hall in Long Island City, Queens.
The card, entitled “The Big Pay Back,” continues the initiative of Uprising Promotions to KO Autism, and proceeds from the night will be donated to The School For Language and Communication Development (SLCD) in Glen Cove, New York.
“We are expecting a great show, and it will be an all-action card with competitive matches,” said Ronson Frank, President of Uprising Promotions.
“We will be supporting a great cause to raise autism awareness, and proceeds from the show will be donated to the SLCD. We are expecting a big turnout once again, and we invite everyone to come join us for a great night of boxing.”
Five Star Banquet Hall is located at 13-05 43rd Avenue in Long Island City, Queens. Tickets for the February 13th card are priced at $60 for general admission and $100 for ringside seating. There is also a table option with dinner, beer/wine and seating with a celebrity fighter. For pricing on those tables, call (516) 451-6773.
Final fight negotiations are underway for the February 13th show, and the entire bout card will be announced in the upcoming weeks.