By William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of December 29th to January 5th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Golovkin Makes Saunders an Offer
Billy Joe Saunders recently won the WBO Middleweight belt from Andy Lee, but it appears that Golovkin’s camp is trying hard to make a fight.
ESPN reported that Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, has reached out to Saunders camp in an attempt to put the fight together.
Golovkin and Alvarez appear to be headed for a collision in September, but this fight, if it were to happen, will happen beforehand.
Donaire vs. Gradovich Possible for the Philippines
The Philippine Star is reporting that Evgeny Gradovich is next in line as an opponent for Nonito Doniare, and that the fight will take place in the Philippines. Gradovich is scheduled to face Jesus Galicia in Spain on January 9th, and will hopefully finalize negotiations for a Donaire fight afterwards.
Donaire stated,” From what I know, the fight will be a co-promotion of Top Rank and ABS-CBN,” said Donaire who flew in last Dec. 17 and plans to stay in town with wife Rachel and sons Jarel, 2, and Logan, eight months old, until the end of January. “I’ve got an optional defense coming up and Top Rank and my manager (Cameron Dunkin) are looking at Gradovich. Then, it could be Jessie Magdaleno who’s ranked No. 3. Araneta is the choice for the site of my next fight because of its boxing history and accessibility to the public.”
Crawford vs. Lundy, Ward vs. Barrera, and Abraham vs. Ramirez Being Discussed
Several fights have been in negotiations over the holiday break and appear on the verge of being signed.
Terence Crawford (27-0) will likely face Hank Lundy (26-5-1) on February 27th live on HBO at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Arthur Abraham (44-4), the WBO Super Middleweight champion, is currently in talks with Gilberto Ramirez (33-0) for an upcoming title bout. A location and date has not been chosen, but Ramirez is the mandatory challenger for Abraham’s belt.
Andre Ward (28-0), who’s been plagued with inactivity the past four years, is currently in negotiations to face Sullivan Barrera (17-0). Barrera will be a tough test for Ward in the middleweight division.
IBF Declares Uzcategui Mandatory for DeGale
James DeGale (22-1) currently holds the IBF Super Middleweight title, and he has now been ordered to face Jose Uzcategui (24-1) in his next mandatory defense.
Uzcategui’s lone loss came to Matt Korobov but he is coming off of a second round TKO over Julius Jackson. DeGale was last seen in the ring beating Lucian Bute and he won his title off of Andre Dirrell.
David Benavidez Returns on January 19th
19 year old boxing prodigy David Benavidez will return to the ring on Tuesday, January 19th at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, California.
Benavidez (11-0) will face Kevin “The Vermont Bully” Cobbs (10-1) in an eight round light heavyweight battle. Benavidez was last seen in the ring scoring a first round TKO over Felipe Romero.
“It’s a great feeling to give the fans what they want,” said Benavidez of the victory. “I knew something big would happen that night. I could feel it. It feels good knowing that people want to see me fight.”
To prepare for Cobbs, Benavidez’s promoter Sampson Lewkowicz of Sampson Boxing, has the Phoenix-based fighter and his father/trainer Jose Benavidez Sr., (David is the younger brother of undefeated Interim WBA World Super Lightweight Champion Jose Benavidez Jr.) working with Hector Bermudez at Peter Welch’s Gym in South Boston.
“It’s going really good,” said Jose Sr. “We’ve been sparring well. Today we went ten rounds. David is looking very strong.”
An established and respected trainer in his own right, Benavidez Sr. says he appreciates the new perspective any other world-class trainer can bring to his fighters’ skill sets. “I’ve been doing this for 18 years. For four years I was working in Freddie Roach’s gym, learning everything I could absorb. I’ve been to Robert Garcia’s Gym, spent a lot of time there. Also the Diaz brothers. I’ve been to Abel Sanchez’s gym. And now Hector Bermudez… All these gyms I visit; I learn new things. As a trainer, you never want to stop learning.”
New York State Boxing Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2016
The New York State Boxing Hall of Fame has announced its 18 member class of 2016.
“This is another very strong class of inductees,” said Ring 8 and NYSBHOF president Bob Duffy. “We are honoring New York’s finest in our sport. This is all about recognizing great fighters, as well as others involved in boxing, from the state of New York.”
Living boxers heading into the NYSBHOF include former world welterweight champion (’90-91) and 1986 New York Golden Gloves winner, Bronx fighter Aaron “Superman” Davis (49-6, 31 KOs), Rochester’s world junior welterweight champion (’93-94) Charles “The Natural” Murray (44-9, 26 KOs), Bronx two-time world lightweight title challenger and 1970 New York Golden Gloves co-champion Vilomar Fernandez (30-11-2, 9 KOs), and New York City’s world lightweight title challenger Edwin Viruet.
Posthumous participants being inducted are Spanish Harlem’s 4-time, 3-division world champion Hector “Macho” Camacho (79-6-3, 45 KOs), Brooklyn’s world middleweight champion (1952) Rocky Graziano (67-10-6, 52 KOs), Buffalo’s world lightweight (’25-26) titlist Rocky Kansas (62-11-6, 38 KOs), Brooklyn’s 2-time world bantamweight titleholder Joe Lynch (99-36-19 2 NC, 37 KOs) and Brooklyn’s “uncrowned welterweight champion” Joe Miceli (60-42-8, 28 KOs).
Non-participants heading into the NYSBHOF are Canastota’s International Boxing Hall of Fame executive director Ed Brophy, Bronx promoter Joe DeGuardia, Melville’s commissioner/media personality Randy Gordon and Queens promoter/manager Dennis Rappaport.
Posthumous non-participant inductees are Bronx manager Howie Albert, Manhattan’s East Side trainer/cutman Freddie Brown, New York City television commentator Howard Cosell, Manhattan’s Lower East Side boxer/referee Ruby Goldstein and New York City manager Jimmy Jacobs.
Durodola Cleared by WBC for Doping Allegations
Nigerian-born cruiserweight contender Olanrewaju “God’s Power” Durodola says he’s relieved to have been cleared of doping allegations made by a discredited Russian organization.
“They tried to take away what I worked so hard for. I thank God they were not able to. I am a champion. I did that with my fists, not drugs. It hurt me when they tried to say I cheated.”
Following his upset WBC Silver Cruiserweight Championship-winning TKO 2 over highly touted Russian Dmitry Kudryashov on November 4 in Russia, Durodola (22-2, 20 KOs) says he was heartbroken to hear that Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) were claiming he had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.
However, after an administrative investigation, the World Boxing Council, in conjunction with an Independent Commission and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), ruled that RUSADA was non-compliant with proper testing procedures.
Reaffirmed as the WBC #2 contender, 35-year-old Durodola, a 2008 Olympian, finds himself in an excellent position to eventually challenge champion Grigory Drozd.
“It is my dream I have worked for all my life,” continued Durodola. “It was a nightmare to have them try to lie and take that away from me.”
Intent on protecting himself from attempts to have his ring achievements taken away unfairly again, Durodola has agreed to participate in the new WBC Clean Boxing Program. The program will provide for random and mandatory anti-doping testing of boxers both in-competition and out-of-competition.
Durodola’s promoter, Greg Cohen of Greg Cohen Promotions, says “I am pleased that the WBC took control of the situation and acted swiftly and appropriately. Durodola was a 25-1 underdog and won in spectacular fashion. This career defining victory can now be thoroughly enjoyed by the entire Durodola team and we are looking forward to a world title opportunity in the immediate future.”
Roland Jankelson, Durodola’s manager, expressed how hard it was on his boxer, himself, and the Durodola team, knowing that the test results were bogus, but being used to threaten the bout results and rob Durodola of his victory.
“The Kudryashov interests immediately rushed to fill the media with these false allegations, violating WBC rules regarding confidentiality requirements. Mr. Durodola, our team, and I are grateful to the WBC for its thorough investigation and decision declaring the Russian tests flawed.”