Boxing Insider Notebook: Hall of Fame, Wilder, Ortiz, Benn, Santa Cruz, Shields, and more…
By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of September 24th to October 1st; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Nabeel Ahmad/Premier Boxing Champions
Deontay Wilder vs. Luiz Ortiz and Leo Santa Cruz vs. Miguel Flores Press Conference Quotes
Here is what the fighters had to say Saturday from the Lexus Club at STAPLES Center:
“Here we go again. The only way for there to be a rematch was for there to be an exciting first fight. When I first met this man in the ring, it was amazing and inspiring to go up against such a skillful fighter. It was such a great experience for me and an honor for me to face him.
“That first fight was a test for me to show me where my skill level was in the heavyweight division. He was the bogeyman in the heavyweight division for a reason. To this day, they still don’t fight him for a reason.
“I’m the best in the world. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I believe in that and I’ve proven that. I’ve proved so many people wrong and I still have to do it. That gives me the motivation and the will to keep going.
“I created a bond with Ortiz fighting the first time because of our daughters. We were two fathers in the ring who had to battle it out for our families. There’s no better feeling than going for war against another gladiator.
“There wasn’t really anything that I learned about myself in the first fight, but it was confirmation of something I had already known. I know what I can do and I believe in myself. I didn’t feel like I was proving anything to myself, it was just proving it to others.
“We’re passionate about this and we want to give the fans the best fight possible. We will do that again because I never leave you without having a great time and giving you excitement. If you’ve never seen a boxing match before, I’m the person to come see. If you want to see excitement, this is the fight to be at. This is the fight to order.
“I’m a true champion. A true champion can walk it like he talks it, and I walk it like I talk it every time. On November 23 I expect to see everyone there or ordering it on pay-per-view, because I can’t wait.”
“I’m very happy to have this opportunity at the rematch. Wilder had the courage to take the rematch and that’s a big part of why this is happening. I’m excited for this fight and I’m going to make the most of it.
“There are no excuses from me. The first fight is over. Now we’re on to this fight. I’m going to get the victory. There are things that are being done differently, but it will all be decided in the ring.
“I’m focused on this fight and only this fight. I’m not a man of many words, but the opportunity is here and it was destined to be. Here we go.
“A warrior doesn’t abandon his mission. My mission is to become world champion. I’ve trained very hard since my loss and it will all culminate on November 23.
“I won’t make the same mistake this time like I made in the last fight. I’m going to be more prepared, more aggressive and have more of everything. I’m taking it all up a level.
“There was no reason for me not winning the first fight, it just is what it is. We knew that one of us was going to get knocked out. I have that same sentiment for the rematch. This fight is not going 12 rounds.
“I want November 23 to get here sooner than later. I’m ready to step into the ring and do the job and become heavyweight world champion.”
LEO SANTA CRUZ
“I work hard for every fight and it’s going to be the same for this fight. This opportunity came to fight for the 130-pound title and I’m excited to fight for it. I want to become a four-division world champion.
“I’m going to see how I feel at 130. If I’m strong I definitely feel like I will have more fights there. My goal right now is to win this world title. That’s what I’m focused on.
“I’m very happy and excited to have this opportunity to become a four-division world champion. My goal when I began boxing was just to become a world champion. To go for a fourth time is an even bigger dream.
“Miguel Flores is a tough fighter and I don’t underestimate him. I know it’s going to be a hard fight. He’s going to come with everything he has. It’s the opportunity of his lifetime.
“I’m really motivated like this is my first world title. This is something big for me. It will help me be remembered as one of the best Mexican fighters and that’s my goal.
“Most importantly, we’re going to give the fans a great show on fight night. To be the co-main event for Deontay Wilder is amazing. He always gives a great show, but my job is to give everyone even more excitement.”
“They say you don’t get second chances in life, but I am getting that and I’m very grateful. Everything happens for a reason. This fight was meant to happen and I plan to take full advantage of it.
“Being at 130 or 126 doesn’t make a difference to me when fighting Leo, it’s still the same guy. He started his career at 118 anyway and I’ve had it in my brain for so long about how I’m going to beat him.
“The strategy is to outdo him in anything. Outsmart him, out hustle him and just be able to do it all. He does everything well and he’s a veteran. I know he has tricks under his sleeve, but we need to be ready for that and have something ready to go back at him.
“This is an even bigger scene being the co-main event to the heavyweight championship of the world in Las Vegas. Everything has worked out perfect for me. That wasn’t my mentality when the injury happened, but now it all makes sense.
“I want to be able to be the guy. By beating Leo, I become the guy. It’s both of our jobs to turn everyone into believers. After this fight, everyone is going to know this was a great fight.
“Our focus is on Leo Santa Cruz. November 23 is all that’s on my mind. A lot of people don’t know how good my boxing skills are and how crafty I can be in the ring. They’re going to be in for a surprise.”
International Boxing Hall of Fame Ballots to be Released to Worldwide Voting Panel for 2020 Election
The International Boxing Hall of Fame released the 2020 election ballots to an international panel of voters today. Inductees will be named in the following categories: Modern, Old-Timer, Pioneer, Non-Participant and Observer; and, for the first time, Women’s Modern and Trailblazer.
In addition to the newly created women’s boxing categories, the Hall of Fame previously announced that modern-era boxers now require a three-year retirement period.
Members of the Boxing Writers Association of America and an international panel of boxing historians cast votes. Voters from Japan, England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States are among those who will participate in the election process.
“The October 1st ballot mailing is a special time for the sport of boxing,” said Executive Director Edward Brophy. “The anticipation of the vote is palpable as the Hall of Fame and the worldwide boxing community anxiously awaits the results to determine who will join the list of boxing immortals.”
Boxers added to the men’s modern ballot for 2020 include Jorge Arce, Timothy Bradley, Vuyani Bungu, Joel Casamayor, Diego Corrales, Carl Froch, Bernard Hopkins, Sergio Martinez, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Antonio Tarver and Israel Vazquez.
Boxers comprising the first ever women’s modern ballot include Laila Ali, Sumya Anani, Regina Halmich, Holly Holm, Susi Kentikian, Christy Martin, Lucia Rijker, Jisselle Salandy, Mary Jo Sanders, Laura Serrano, Ana Maria Torres and Ann Wolfe.
Ballots are distributed on October 1st and a news conference will be held in early December to announce results of the voting.
The 2020 Hall of Fame Induction Weekend will be held June 11-14 in Canastota, NY.
Don King Signs Ilunga Makabu
Ilunga Makabu 26-2, 24 KOs, born in Kananga, Democratic Republic Of The Congo, now residing in Johannesburg, South Africa is the current World Boxing Council (WBC) Silver Cruiserweight Champion and is ranked No. 1 ranked by the WBC in the cruiserweight division.
“Signing with Don King is the beginning of a new chapter,” said Makabu. “A dream that I have had my entire life can now be fulfilled – fighting for the world title in my own country and becoming world champion in the Congo.”
“I have traveled from France, and Makabu from the Congo, to meet here in Florida with Don King,” said co-manager Tarik Saadi. “I have matched the greatest fighter in the world with the greatest promoter in the world and today, together, we sign for the future of Junior Makabu..”
“It has been a pleasure to work with Tarik in the past four weeks to bring this all together,” said advisor Lee Holiday. “To get the deal signed is certainly a great achievement. I look forward to working with this team and working with Junior Makabu and making him the world champion.”
“I am extremely excited to sign the future WBC Cruiserweight Champion,” said Hall of Fame Promoter Don King. “It is perfect timing as I have been speaking with Ferdinand Luyoyo, the President of the Boxing Federation of the Democratic Republic of Congo, about putting a fantastic card together to celebrate the anniversary of ‘The Rumble in the Jungle.’ It was 45 years ago when the greatest of all times, THE LEGENDARY MUHAMMAD ALI AND THE GIANT, STRONG MAN OF BOXING, THE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD, GEORGE FOREMAN had that great, legendary fight in Kinshasa, Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo – ‘A Salute to Greatness for The Pursuit of World Peace’ featuring the WBA Heavyweight championship bout”.
“We want to revitalize the sport and bring some new blood onto the scene and to do a card with the World Boxing Association cruiserweight champion Beibut Shumenov, the WBC world cruiserweight title fight with Ilunga Makabu and a couple additional world title fights. General Ferdinand Luyoyo is going to set up a meeting with the President of the DRC, Felix Tshisekedi and we are hoping to put a show there before the end of the year with five world championship bouts, one featuring the Iron Lady of Nigeria, Helen Joseph.”
And on Thursday In New York . . .
“I was in New York City Thursday to celebrate the legacy of George Herbert Walker Bush at The George H.W. Bush Points of Light Awards Gala at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
George H W Bush was a man of the people and was always looking to help somebody else. I feel honored to work with the Bush family and I am deeply appreciative to be a part of and to be able to contribute to the Thousand Points of Light. It was also a great honor for me to greet and meet Honorable Jesse Jackson and former President William Jefferson Clinton (Bill). We all got a chance to take photos and promote love and peace together. It was all about learning to help and to love each other instead of being taught to hate each other with disdain and with superior and inferior classes of people which denigrates humanity and promotes hatred and divisiveness.
Thousand Points of Light honored Garth Brookes, one of my favorite country singers, with the “Man of the Year” award. The Beach Boys performed live and the great Dr. Love (Michael Love) told me he was 78-years old and I told him “I got you by ten years.” It was all about unity, solidarity and togetherness. I love the Bush family and they represent what America should be in democracy. A great lady, wonderful mother and a fantastic First Lady Barbara Bush, and a great American, a tried, a tested and true American patriot, former President George HW Bush and together, Barbara Pierce Bush and George H W Bush set the tone for family, love and togetherness… signaling for a better America.
Claressa Shields and Salita Promotions to Honor Flint City Youth
Undisputed middleweight world champion and hometown hero Claressa Shields is joining forces with corporate sponsor IronRoad and her promoter, Salita Promotions, to honor representatives from several area youth groups at her upcoming world-championship fight on October 5 at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint, Mich.
Nearly 300 youth and chaperones from six different groups including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flint and Genesee County, YMCA of Greater Flint, Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Flint in partnership with “SHE IS” Youth Empowerment Group, GENYOUth and the Claressa Shields Community Program will be introduced to the crowd in attendance and recognized by the community during Shields historic 10-round “Homecoming for Herstory,” showdown with former world champion Ivana Habazin for the WBO Junior Middleweight World Championship.
In her first professional fight in her hometown of Flint, 24-year-old Shields (9-0, 2 KOs) will be looking to become the fastest fighter in boxing, male or female, to become a three-division world champion by defeating #1-ranked Habazin (20-3, 7 KOs), of Zagreb, Croatia.
The fight will headline a SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT) telecast that will also feature undefeated Saginaw, Mich., heavyweight prospect Jermaine Franklin (19-0, 13 KOs) facing Czech Republic’s once-beaten Pavel Sour (11-1, 6 KOs) and unbeaten welterweight prospect Jaron “Boots” Ennis (23-0, 21 KOs) taking on Argentina’s Demian Daniel Fernandez (12-1, 5 KOs).
“The youth are the future of Flint. I want them to know that being born in Flint is not a bad thing, that we can still be successful,” said Shields. “It wouldn’t be a homecoming without involving the kids. I love Flint and want to show the kids that no matter what is thrown at us, we are fighters and we are winners!”
“I want to thank IronRoad for their vision and support which allowed us to honor the Youth Groups of Flint at this historic event,” said Dmitriy Salita. “The presence of three-hundred youth will make an historic event even more special and memorable.”
“There’s nothing more important to Claressa than including the youth of Flint in the October 5 homecoming event,” said Shields’ manager, Mark Taffet. “I thank IronRoad and Salita Promotions for their support which will enable us to honor Flint youth and recognize the leaders of the Flint youth groups for their dedication.”
IronRoad (ironroad.us) is a corporation which provides human resources services and support to companies across the US and is a regular supporter of causes which give back to communities and particularly support the development of the youth of America.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flint and Genesee County (www.bbbsflint.org) makes a difference by creating professionally supported one-to-one matches for kids who want to realize their full potential. They are located at 410 E. Second Street in Flint. For more information, call (810) 235-0617 or email [email protected]
YMCA of Greater Flint (flintymca.com) focuses on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Y nurtures the potential of every youth and teen, improves the nation’s health and well-being, and provides opportunities to give back and support neighbors. They are located at Downtown Branch: 411 E. 3rd St. in Flint, call (810) 232-9622 and Pierson Road Branch: 5219 W. Pierson Road in Flushing, Mich., call (810) 732-9622.
The Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village’s (sbev.org) mission is to cultivate leadership capacity. They serve all people in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race, or religion, and work to empower the youth in Flint and their communities to give them a voice in the world. They are located at 4119 N Saginaw St in Flint. For more information, please call (810) 893-6098 or email [email protected]
DAZN Unleashes Fall Campaign
DAZN’s fall campaign in the U.S. – It’s Fight Season on DAZN – has landed. Further differentiating itself from others in the sport of boxing, the sports streaming platform’s new campaign pivots from the more traditional, one-off event promotion to instead highlight DAZN’s entire fall fight season that will feature boxing’s biggest matchups. As the only place to watch Gennadiy “GGG” Golovkin back in title contention on Oct. 5, Canelo Alvarez jump up two weight classes in a championship clash on Nov. 2, and the highly-anticipated rematch between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua on Dec. 7, DAZN has amassed one of the best schedules in boxing history.
DAZN’s new campaign features highlight reels of each of these four superstars juxtaposed against an evocative track titled “The Impossible Dream,” eliciting the wide range of emotions and piercing intensity that fighters experience throughout their journey by bringing viewers closer to the rawness of the sport – the training, the anticipation, the fans, the drama, and ultimately, the culmination of it all inside the ring. Dentsu Aegis Network’s 360i created the ads.
The 60-second spot will debut on NBC during the Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints Sunday Night Football game on September 29. From there, the full campaign, which will include 30-second, 15-second and six-second video ads, will run on linear and digital platforms including Notre Dame Football and English Premier League on NBC, CBS, Turner, Comedy Central, Adult Swim, the History Channel, A&E, Telemundo, Univision, Bleacher Report, Complex, as well as targeted addressable media with select cable and satellite providers, and more. Notably, the 30-second spot will continue to run on Sunday Night Football every week through the Nov. 2 Canelo vs. Kovalev title fight. A campaign extension in the form of a local Hispanic grassroots campaign is also planned for all of October in Los Angeles, including experiential pop-up events centered around Canelo.
“Premiering our new campaign during Sunday Night Football is fitting given the parallels between the two sports,” said Robert Stecklow, SVP of Marketing for DAZN North America. “Just as fans are used to football delivering an entire season of star athletes, big moments, major rivalries, and huge upsets, DAZN has introduced the concept of an entire fight season that is loaded week after week with incredible talent and can’t-miss action.”
Other major matchups this fight season on DAZN include Oleksandr Usyk’s long-awaited heavyweight debut, World Boxing Super Series final clashes Regis Prograis vs. Josh Taylor and Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire Jr., Bellator MMA’s Featherweight World Grand Prix opening rounds and their Welterweight World Grand Prix’s final million dollar title clash between Rory MacDonald and Douglas Lima, YouTube sensations KSI and Logan Paul going pro for their much buzzed about rematch, and more.
DAZN offers an annual pass for $99.99 and a monthly option at $19.99 for those customers who prefer more flexibility.
Nigel Benn Returns to the Ring for Closure
It’s official, former WBC & WBO World Champion Nigel Benn will return to the ring one last time for CLOSURE.
The event will be held on the 23rd November 2019 at Resorts World Arena, located in the National Exhibition Centre, Perimeter Rd, Birmingham, England.
The event will be broadcast globally upon the Epicentre.TV broadcast platform on Nigel’s own channel: WWW.Epicentre.TV/Nigel-Benn
So why is he returning to the ring?
“This one is for me and has been many years in the making. My return to the ring is an itch I need to scratch. I feel fitter, stronger and more focused than at any time in my career. Age is nothing but a number, I still have good movement, quick hands and a good whack. I have been training for five years ahead of this event, the last two years intensively and as an elite athlete ahead of the fight. It is eight weeks until I return to the ring, and I am only a couple of Kilograms off weight. I feel strong and looking forward to stepping in the ring for the last time in November. Looking back at my career I feel I cheated myself. Even though I accomplished so much, I was walking on the dark side; cheating, taking recreational drugs at parties and smoking weed. Starting at eight years old, I smoked cigarettes throughout my entire career! Towards the end of my career my life was out of control. When I hit my lowest point, I attempted to take my own life. By reconnecting with my faith, I have made the changes needed and now live a blessed life in Australia with my beautiful wife Carolyne and three of my eight wonderful kids. I want my return to the ring to demonstrate to anyone who is struggling that no matter how low you feel and no matter how bad things get there is always hope, there are people that can help you and you can always make the change to be a better version of yourself.” Nigel Benn
Nigel will face former WBC Super Middleweight World Champion Sakio Bika who is 15 years Nigel’s Junior. Sakio Bika is one of the toughest boxers of the last two decades. In his 20 year career, Sakio has never been stopped and has taken undefeated boxing superstars Joe Calzaghe and Andre Ward the distance giving them the hardest night of their lives.
So why Sakio Bika?
“I respect Sakio immensely, he is a true warrior and did not want to take an easy option. He has shared the ring with some of the great world champions of recent years. He will come to fight and will not take a backward step. It will be a war” Nigel Benn