Boxing Insider Notebook: Judah, Haney, Seldin, Lee, Buatsi, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of May 21st to May 28th covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Undefeated Mike Lee Realizes Dream to Fight for World Title in Las Vegas
Mike Lee was an aspiring boxer headed to one of the most distinguished Universities in the country.
Lee, The most prolific boxer in Notre Dame history also graduated with a degree in Finance with a 3.8 GPA.
Lee will challenge for the IBF Super Middleweight title, live on FOX from Las Vegas at The MGM Grand.
Lee, who battles Autoimmune Disease not only became a championship caliber boxer but is a National Pitchman and accomplished Public Speaker to Fortune-500 Companies. Mike Lee is a A true Renaissance man.
“Doctors told me at one point that I wouldn’t fight again, but I’m still standing right here. I pushed through my pain to get here,” said Lee.
Lee, whose philanthropic efforts, and humility makes makes him a unique commodity in the sport. Something that has not been seen before. A true role model in every sense of the definition.
Mike has personally has given over $100,000 for to the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, the Robinson Community Learning Center in South Bend and the Kelly Cares Foundation, headed by Coach Brian Kelly of the Fighting Irish Football Team.
“I’ve had people that never thought I’d get here and I love it. It takes a different kind of person to step into that ring in front of so many people. You have to be ready to go out there and risk it all. I fight who they put in front of me and keep winning. That’s what I plan to do on July 20. On July 20, I’m going to keep proving people wrong.”
“This has been a culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice. Most importantly, I’ve gotten somewhere no one thought I would get. I’m fine being the underdog. I have nothing to lose,” said Lee. “I’m coming out with everything I have. This is everything I’ve ever wanted. I respect Caleb Plant, but on July 20, I plan on making it my moment. On July 20, I’m going to keep proving people wrong”
“This is a dream come true for me. I’ve been through so much and there were days where I thought my dream was over. I’ve chased this since I was eight-years-old and I’m thankful for this chance to go after a dream that others thought I couldn’t reach.
In Las Vegas, where people bet against the odds everyday, On July 20th, Mike Lee will do what he does every time he faces a big challenge and give hope to the millions who suffer from their Autoimmune Disease.
Devin Haney Quotes After Vicious Knockout
Undefeated lightweight sensation Devin Haney capped off an action-packed evening of boxing on DAZN from the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, with a stunning seventh-round knockout. Making his DAZN debut, Haney (22-0, 14 KOs) impressed a raucous crowd with his highlight-reel stoppage of Mexico’s Antonio Moran (24-4, 17 KOs). In the heavyweight co-feature of the evening, Croatia’s Filip Hrgovic (8-0, 6 KOs) scored a brutal first-round technical knockout against Gregory Corbin (15-2, 9 KOs) of Dallas, Texas. Michael Hunter (17-1, 12 KOs) of Las Vegas kicked off the evening’s main card in dramatic fashion with a scintillating second-round technical knockout victory over Brazil’s Fabio Maldonado (26-3, 25 KOs) to continue his unbeaten streak at heavyweight. On the preliminary card of the evening, Jessica McCaskill (7-2, 3 KOs) and Anahi Sanchez (19-4, 11 KOs) wowed the Maryland crowd with a thrilling slugfest. McCaskill emerged with a unanimous decision victory to unify the WBA and WBC Women’s World Super Lightweight titles.
On his performance: “I want to thank God, my dad, Eddie Hearn, my whole team behind me. Coming into this fight, I wanted to make a statement. There were a lot of rumors going around that I didn’t have any punching power and I can’t knock anyone out. But as you see, I can. I went in there and broke my opponent down and then knocked him out.”
On the moment he knew the knockout was possible: “I know I got him hurt with that first shot. My dad always tells me, when you get him hurt go right to the body. So I went to the body and then went over the top. I knew when I landed and saw his facial expression that he was out.”
On his abilities on offense and defense: “All of the above. I am overall a great fighter. I have speed, I have power, I have head movement. Like I said before, I have many tools in the toolbox. It just depends on what I want to bring out that night. I am able to make adjustments the whole fight, too.”
On what he did to neutralize Moran: “Honestly, I don’t think a lot of the guys that I have been fighting actually have more experience than me. I have been in there with world class fighters. They say that sparring doesn’t count but I believe it does. I have put in many rounds with many different world champions so I believe that I have the experience factor.”
Buatsi Faces Periban at Madison Square Garden
Joshua Buatsi will fight in America for the first time as a professional when he defends his WBA International Light-Heavyweight title against Marco Antonio Periban at Madison Square Garden on Saturday June 1, live on DAZN in the US and Sky Sports Box Office in the UK.
Buatsi (10-0, 8 KOs) stopped Liam Conroy in three rounds to claim the vacant British 175lbs title last time out at London’s Copper Box Arena, dropping the former English champion twice in the third round to force another impressive early stoppage.
The 2016 Olympic bronze medallist landed his WBA crown with brutal first round KO of Andrejs Pokumeiko in July last year before defending the title twice against Tony Averlant and Renold Quinlan – both fights ending in explosive first round knockouts.
Next up for the fast-rising Croydon star is Mexico’s Marco Antonio Periban (25-4-1, 16 KOs), a former opponent of former two-weight World Champion Badou Jack, IBF Super-Middleweight king James DeGale and World title challenger Avni Yildrim.
“I’m excited to be in the United states for the first time,” said Buatsi. “There is so much history here with this venue, the greats have fought here and to be able to say I’ve boxed at Maddison Square Garden this early in my career is an honour. I’ve had a great camp in Miami and I can’t wait to get started and put on a fantastic performance for all the fans.”
“As Britain takes over the Mecca of boxing next week in NY, it’s only right that one of our biggest rising stars gets the chance to shine,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Joshua Buatsi has been sensational since turning professional and next week gets the chance to make his US debut on the biggest stage of all. We expect a tough challenge from Periban who will have big support at the arena from the Mexican fans hoping Andy Ruiz can make history for his country. Periban has mixed in great company and this is the perfect test for Josh as he closes in at shot at the World title. Next week is going to be special in so many ways, I can’t wait!”
Buatsi and Periban clash on a huge night of action at MSG where Anthony Johua’s World title defence against Andy Ruiz Jr. is supported by Irish sensation Katie Taylor clashing with Delfine Persoon for the undisputed Women’s World Lightweight championship, Callum Smith defending his WBA World ‘Super’, WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine Super-Middleweight titles against Hassan N’Dam, Josh Kelly making his US debut as he defends his WBA International Welterweight title against Philadelphia’s Ray Robinson and Chris Algieri defending his WBO International title against Britain’s Tommy Coyle in a crunch Super-Lightweight showdown – with more exciting undercard additions announced this week.
Korobov Camp Demands Investigation
The team representing WBC #14-rated middleweight Matvey Korobov have sent a letter to the Attorney General and Governor of Virginia, requesting they open an investigation into Korobov’s controversial majority draw last Saturday (May 11) against Virginia-based fighter Immanuwel Aleem and several relevant “surrounding incidents.”
Leon Margules, attorney for Team Korobov, sent the letter on behalf of the fighter, along with several supporting pieces of evidence, to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and Governor Ralph Northam.
In it, Margules points out what he alleges is a conflict of interest in that the two Virginia-based judges, Mark D’Attilio and Brian Costello who both questionably ruled the bout a draw at 95-95, are members of the state’s Boxing, Martial Arts, and Professional Wrestling Advisory Board responsible for selecting each fight’s judges and licensing fighters.
Costello, in fact, is the Board’s Chairperson.
And thus, two members of the body responsible for appointing a fight’s judges appointed themselves and a relatively inexperienced referee (Michelle Myers) from Virginia to officiate a nationally televised bout featuring a fighter from their home state, against Korobov, a Russian living in Florida.
It then questions why, of the three televised fights, this was the only one carried out like this, with non-neutral officials.
The letter also references the original scorecard provided to media, that showed Korobov as a majority decision winner, as well as the same scorecard 20 minutes later, with D’Attilio’s round 10 Korobov score scratched out and changed from a 10 to a 9, transforming the outcome to a majority draw.
A further point of contention is the judging performance of the two Virginia-based judges, who scored the fight a draw when a Korobov victory was almost universally agreed upon by the boxing media and fans, post-fight.
To most, Korobov appeared to win the first seven rounds handily and hurt Aleem badly in round six before Aleem mounted a minor comeback in the last two or three rounds. At the final bell, Korobov enjoyed a sizeable advantage in landed punches (according to CompuBox statistics, Korobov landed 154 punches out of 417 thrown (37%), while Aleem landed 119 shots out of 630 [19%]).
Respected boxing official and unofficial judge for the contest, Larry Hazard Sr., scored the fight 97-92.
A long list of fans on social media voicing suspected corruption is also attached.
Margules’ letter also points out what many consider a missed knockdown by Referee Myers in round four, when Korobov sent Aleem down with a counter right hand only to have her rule it a foul incorrectly.
Team Korobov say they are hoping the state will find a solution for this unfortunate situation to prevent another black eye for boxing and a “chilling effect” on fighters coming to fight in Virginia.
Judah vs. Seldin Undercard Announced
International Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Weekend is right around the corner and STAR BOXING is pleased to announce the undercard for the highly anticipated event, set to take place at Turning Stone Resort Casino on June 7th. The main event features six-time world champion, and the last Undisputed Welterweight Champion, ZAB “SUPER” JUDAH (44-9 30KO’s) against New York knockout artist, CLETUS “THE HEBREW HAMMER” SELDIN (23-1 19KO’s). The two will do battle in a 12-round bout, with the vacant NABA Super Lightweight Title up for grabs. In the co-feature, #8 WBA rated, undefeated Frenchman, DAVID PAPOT (22-0 3KO’s) will face veteran, JAMES “BUDDY” MCGIRT JR. (27-3-1 14KO’s), son of Long Island’s first world champion “BUDDY” MCGIRT, for the WBA Intercontinental and WBO International Middleweight Titles in a 12-round bout, who is being inducted to the Hall of Fame during the fight week induction ceremony.
The undercard will feature five undefeated fighters, including ROBERT DURAN JR. (Plantation, FL 2-0, 2KO), son of the legendary, “Mano de Piedra,” ROBERTO DURAN, Italy’s “SUPER” MARIO ALFANO (14-0-1 3KO’s), Long Island’s WENDY “HAITIAN FIRE” TOUSSAINT (Huntington, NY 9-0 4KO’s), up and coming welterweight BOUBACAR SYLLA (Cincinnati, OH 9-0 7KO’s), Vero Beach Florida native, JONATHAN PIERRE (3-0) and cruiserweight ALEX VANASSE (4-0 4KO’s).
In an 8-round lightweight bout, Italian sensation, “SUPER” MARIO ALFANO will be making his United States debut against a tough opponent in LAVISAS “RED” WILLIAMS (Rochester, NY 8-1-1 3KO’s). The 28-year-old Italian earned the Italian National Super Featherweight Title in 2016, and successfully defended it in the same year. Alfano comes to the USA with the hopes that being seen on a world stage will expedite his opportunity at cracking into the upper level of the super featherweight/lightweight rankings. Williams is looking to avenge the first loss of his career at the hands of O’Shaquie Foster, knowing that a win against an undefeated fighter in Alfano will be one of, if not the best, of his young career.
Star Boxing’s undefeated, rising super middleweight, WENDY “HAITIAN FIRE” TOUSSAINT (9-0 4KO’s) is a highly-regarded prospect that many believe may be a future world champion. He is coming off a 12 month layoff due to an injured hand. Toussaint has developed into a well-rounded fighter and his last 4 fights have been via TKO’s. Opposing the Haitian born Toussaint will be LUCIUS “BULLDOG” JOHNSON (Compton, CA, 4-5-1 3KO’S). Johnson has a deceiving record, with combined opponent record of 62-7-6. Toussaint will be the seventh undefeated fighter that Johnson will take on. This scheduled 6-round super middleweight bout is expected to be a thriller.
The Sengalese welterweight, now fighting and training out of Cincinnati, Ohio, BOUBACAR SYLLA (9-0 7KO’s) will be fighting in New York for the first time, having recently defeated Brooklyn prospect, Marlon Brown. The 6’0″ prospect was born in Dakar, Senegal and will be campaigning at the 147 lb. division as the 24-year-old continues to rise the ranks. He will face tough Texan MARQUIS “THE HAWK” HAWTHORNE (7-10 1KO). Hawthorne has faced almost exclusively highly rated prospects in his career, with a combined opponent record of 96-27-5, of which twelve of his seventeen opponents have been undefeated. He recently handed highly regarded prospect Ronnie Austion his first loss in a massive upset this past January. This bout is scheduled for 6 rounds in the welterweight division.
In a special attraction battle of undefeated fighters, ROBERT DURAN JR. (2-0 2KO), son of boxing legend, ROBERTO DURAN, will step in for his third professional bout, against JONATHAN PIERRE (3-0), in a four round welterweight bout. No-one has been able to take Duran Jr. the full distance as his two wins have come by TKO, and Duran has the added benefit of having already fought on a big stage when he shined on ESPN + in his last bout. Pierre plans to be unphased by the Duran mystique, and says he will continue on his undefeated path, with a fourth victory against the son of the boxing legend.
In an interesting New York scrap, Undefeated, ALEX “LIGHTS OUT” VANASSE (Carmel, NY 4-0 4KO) will take on ERIC ABRAHAM (Schenectady, NY 5-4 2KO’s) in a 4-round cruiserweight showdown.