Boxing Insider Notebook: Klitschko, Joshua, Mayweather, McGregor, Ward, Kovalev, Canelo, Chavez, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of April 11th to April 18th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
Klitschko vs. Joshua US Television Rights Settled for April 29th
Matchroom Sport, Klitschko Management Group (KMG) and K2 Promotions have reached agreement with U.S. premium television giants Showtime and HBO to televise the most significant heavyweight world championship match in more than a decade. On Saturday, April 29, IBF Heavyweight World Champion Anthony Joshua will face former unified world champion Wladimir Klitschko from a sold-out Wembley Stadium in London.
Showtime is the exclusive U.S. television partner of Joshua, while HBO has an exclusive agreement with Klitschko in the States. Each premium network will produce its own separate telecast of the main event match for the U.S. audience. SHOWTIME will televise its SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING presentation live at 4:15 p.m. ET/1:15 p.m. PT, while HBO will televise its WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING production at approximately 10:45 p.m. ET/PT.
Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) and Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) will meet for Joshua’s IBF World Championship and the vacant IBO and WBA World Championships. The British sensation Joshua has knocked out all 18 of his professional opponents in a meteoric rise to stardom, while the long-reigning world champion from Ukraine, Klitschko, aims to win back titles he previously held in his 11-year rule as heavyweight world champion. Joshua vs. Klitschko is promoted by Matchroom Boxing, KMG and K2 Promotions and has officially sold out Wembley Stadium with a record-setting 90,000 tickets sold.
“I’m extremely happy and thankful that our respective U.S. TV partners Showtime and HBO reached an agreement,” said Bernd Boente, Managing Director of Klitschko Management Group. “This happened before in the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao and the Lewis vs. Tyson fights and shows you the magnitude of our event at Wembley Stadium on April 29.”
“I’m delighted to announce this historic deal that will see Britain’s biggest ever fight shown on both HBO and SHOWTIME in the U.S.,” said Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport. “It takes a special fight to break down barriers and boundaries but also networks and executives who believe in working with the best interest of fight fans in mind. With the obstacles in place it would have been any easy resolution to not air the fight in the States but I want to thank HBO and Showtime for their perseverance and allowing America to see one hell of a fight at our national stadium in front on 90,000 passionate fans. Joshua vs. Klitschko is a fight for the ages and we look forward to the show!”
“We are thrilled to be delivering Joshua vs. Klitschko to the U.S. audience live on SHOWTIME,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports. “On the afternoon of April 29, U.S. sports fans will be able to tune in to SHOWTIME to join a record-breaking crowd of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium and a worldwide television audience in witnessing an event that represents not only the contesting of the heavyweight world championship, but potentially the changing of the guard in the most influential division in boxing. We are proud to be Anthony Joshua’s exclusive U.S. television partner as he attempts to establish his legacy against the legendary Wladimir Klitschko, live on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, as Showtime continues its unrivaled commitment to the sport.”
Said Peter Nelson, executive vice president, HBO Sports: “Both promoters and both networks have found a solution that enables boxing fans in the U.S. to watch the world heavyweight championship. This agreement ensures that our subscribers have access to same-day primetime coverage of the fight. It will mark Wladimir Klitschko’s 22nd appearance on HBO and the first for Anthony Joshua.”
The 27-year-old Joshua has been perfect since turning professional shortly after winning Gold at the 2012 Olympics for Great Britain. Joshua, of Watford, England, won the IBF Heavyweight World Championship with a second-round knockout of defending champion Charles Martin in April 2016, earning a heavyweight belt in the fewest number of fights in more than 20 years. He has since successfully defended the title twice—against Dominic Breazeale in June and Eric Molina in December.
Joshua is just the sixth Olympic Gold Medalist at super heavyweight to go on to win a professional heavyweight world title, joining Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, Alexander Povetkin and his rival on April 29, Wladimir Klitschko.
HBO has been the long-time home of Klitschko’s professional boxing career in the States. The 41-year-old has been a kingpin in the heavyweight division since winning Gold at the 1996 Olympic Games. He turned pro shortly after the Atlanta games and ran an undefeated campaign for 24 fights before suffering his first defeat to experienced veteran Ross Puritty. Klitschko quickly rebounded by winning 10 in a row and captured his first world title (WBO) with a unanimous decision victory over Chris Byrd in 2000, a win which avenged a loss by his brother, Vitali, earlier that year.
Klitschko’s most recent reign at heavyweight began in 2006 when he captured the IBF and IBO belts via knockout in a rematch against Chris Byrd. He went on to make 17 consecutive defenses of the IBF and IBO crowns, 13 consecutive defenses of the WBO belt, and eight consecutive defenses of the WBA title. Along the way, he amassed victories over Sultan Ibragimov, Hasim Rahman, Ruslan Chagaev, David Haye, Samuel Peter, Alexander Povetkin, Kubrat Pulev and more. In total he has fought in 28 total world title fights – a unique record in the history of the heavyweight division – compared to just 18 total professional fights for Anthony Joshua. He was the longest reigning world champion (2006-2015) after Joe Louis.
This will be Klitschko’s first outing since losing the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles to Tyson Fury in 2015, his first defeat in 11 years.
Closed Circuit Venues Announced for Canelo vs. Chavez, Jr.
The hottest ticket in town is for the sold-out Canelo vs. Chavez, Jr. mega fight that is set for Saturday, May 6 at T-Mobile Arena. Due to the demand of closed circuit telecast tickets, additional locations have been added for the Cinco de Mayo weekend showdown between two-division world champion Canelo Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) and former WBC World Middleweight Champion Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs).
In addition to the previously announced MGM Grand Ballroom viewing location, Liberty Loft at New York-New York Hotel & Casino and The Still at The Mirage Hotel & Casino will now show Canelo vs. Chavez, Jr. live on Saturday, May 6, giving fans the opportunity to experience an exciting night of boxing live in Las Vegas in an electrifying setting side-by-side with other fight fans.
Tickets for the closed circuit telecast of Canelo vs. Chavez, Jr. are priced at $75, not including applicable fees. All seats are general admission and additional tickets go on sale Wednesday, March 12 at 10 a.m. PST at any MGM Resorts International box office or concierge desk. Tickets also can be purchased by phone with a major credit card at 800-745-3000.
Canelo vs. Chavez, Jr. is a 12-round fight presented by Golden Boy Promotions and sponsored by Tecate, BORN BOLD, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Adriana’s Insurance and Interjet. Lemieux vs. Reyes is presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Eye of the Tiger Management, Matthysse vs. Taylor is a 10-round fight presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Arano Boxing and Star Boxing. Diaz, Jr. vs. Avila is presented by Golden Boy Promotions. The event will take place on Saturday, May 6 at T-Mobile Arena and will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.
Kovalev vs. Ward II Tickets on Sale
Tickets for Ward-Kovalev 2: “The Rematch” go on sale to the public today at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT. Tickets priced at $1,255, $755, $505, $355, $255 and $105 not including applicable service charges will be available on axs.com and at the Mandalay Bay Events Center box office.
Ward vs. Kovalev 2: “The Rematch,” a 12-round mega-fight for the WBO/IBF/WBA Light Heavyweight World Championships, is presented by Roc Nation Sports, Main Events, Andre Ward Promotions, Krusher Promotions and Corona Extra, and is sponsored by Monster Products and Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. The championship event takes place Saturday, June 17 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.
Follow the conversation using #WardKovalev.
TMZ Sports Reports Mayweather vs. McGregor is Still Not Close
Dana White recently told TMZ Sports that the rumored Mayweather vs. McGregor fight isn’t even close to happening. TMZ also reports to not expect much movement on the fight being made until after Conor’s baby is born, as Dana White has said they plan to meet up after McGregor’s girlfriend gives birth.
Dana also told TMZ that Ronda Rousey hasn’t officially retired yet.
Helenius Hits Back at Chisora: “You Are Going to Get Knocked Out!”
Robert Helenius (24-1, 15 KOs) has hit back at claims made by Dereck Chisora’s (26-7, 18 KOs) coach Don Charles ahead of their rematch for the WBC Silver World Heavyweight title on May 27 at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
‘The Nordic Nightmare’ holds a controversial split decision win over Chisora from their all-action showdown December 2011, which many, including Charles, believed the British boxer did enough to win.
“Every fighter needs an incentive, and the incentive here is to correct the original decision,’’ said Chisora’s trainer. ‘’Dereck has to be the referee, judge and the jury. We are not leaving anything to chance.
“I hate giving fighters instructions to go out looking for the KO, but for this fight, Dereck is under strict instruction to go out there and knock this guy out.
“Robert is a good fighter, but without a doubt he has not been the same man since he first fought Dereck. Dereck knocked every last inch of confidence out of him. I am very confident that Dereck will knock him out!”
On hearing these comments, Helenius has issued a video message to his long-time rival, in which the Finnish heavyweight states: ‘’You can be the judge, you can be the referee, I don’t care, you are going to get knocked out anyway, On 27th May, I’m going to be coming to the ring with both my hands so you better be ready!’’
Caleb Plant Makes Impact Speech to At Risk Youths at Spring Mountain in Las Vegas
This past Saturday, undefeated super-middleweight contender, Caleb “Sweet Hands” Plant (15-0, 10 KOs), made an impact while doing a speaking engagement to at-risk teens at the Spring Mountain Youth Camp (SMYC) in Las Vegas. Caleb spoke to the youth about a variety of subjects but mostly about staying focused on their goals.
“I really wanted to come talk with these kids instead of at them,” said Caleb Plant. “The kids were very well mannered and they asked a lot of questions. I was honest with them and I believe I made a positive impact on the entire group. They have a boxing program up there and I was able to give a few pointers to some of the kids. It was a very uplifting experience for me and I’m grateful to the Spring Mountain youth leaders for inviting me.”
About Spring Mountain Youth Camp: (SMYC) is a staff-secure correctional facility, housing male youth between the ages of 12 and 18. This division provides for the therapeutic, educational, social, medical and recreational needs of approximately 240 young men each year. SMYC is located at Angels Peak in the Mt. Charleston National Forest Area. It sits at an elevation of 8,470 feet and has a capacity of 100 youth.
Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui to Battle for Interim World Title on May 20th
An exciting night of action will feature super middleweight contenders Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui in a matchup for the Interim IBF Super Middleweight World Championship plus two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy in a WBA 140-pound world title eliminator against Kiryl Relikh on Saturday, May 20 from the recently opened MGM National Harbor in Maryland and live on SHOWTIME.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast is headlined by WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. making the second defense of his title when he faces top challenger Oscar Escandon.
Top 168-pound contenders Dirrell (25-2, 16 KOs) and Uzcategui (26-1, 22 KOs) are set to meet in a 12-round matchup with the winner in line to face IBF champion James DeGale, who is currently recovering from injuries sustained in his draw against Badou Jack in January on SHOWTIME.
“This fight is a massive step towards my journey to success in 2017,” said Dirrell. “To me, this is my championship fight leading up to the rematch with the current champion, James DeGale. Jose has all of the tools of a champion, so he’s fierce competition for me. But I will show the world that I’m up for the task. This is my year!”
“I’m very excited to be facing a fighter the quality of Andre Dirrell,” said Uzcategui. “These are the types of fights that I’ve wanted and I look forward to coming out victorious. This fight will be another step on the way to my dream of becoming a world champion.”
A world champion at 130 and 135-pounds, Barthelemy (25-0, 13 KOs) and the former world title challenger Relikh (21-1, 19 KOs) will battle in 12 rounds of action for the right to be the mandatory challenger for current WBA Super Lightweight Championship held by unified champion Julius Indongo.
“I’m very excited to be back in the ring, especially on SHOWTIME against a top-ranked contender in Kiryl Relikh,” said Barthelemy. “This victory will get me one step closer to fulfilling my dream of becoming the first Cuban to win world titles in three different weight classes. I’m very motivated and I will not be denied on May 20.”
“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity in a world title eliminator,” said Relikh. “Rances Barthelemy is a good fighter, but my experience at this weight will help me get the victory. I’m ready to do whatever it takes to get this win and eventually wear that world title belt around my waist.”
Tickets for the live event, promoted by TGB Promotions, are priced at $200, $150, $100 and $50, and are now on sale. To purchase tickets go to http://mgmnationalharbor.com/.
Representing his hometown of Flint, Michigan, Dirrell looks to take one step closer to a rematch with DeGale after dropping a narrow decision to the current IBF champion in May 2015. The 33-year-old bounced back from the defeat in his last outing by earning a wide unanimous decision over Blake Caparello last April. After a decorated amateur career that saw him win two U.S. Amateur World Championships in addition to an Olympic bronze medal, Dirrell was unbeaten in his first 18 pro fights before losing a split decision to Carl Frosh in 2009.
Born in Venezuela, Uzcategui now fights out of Baja California, Mexico, where he won two fights last year by knockout. The 26-year-old shot up the rankings in 2015 when he stopped previously unbeaten Julius Jackson in the second round after knocking his opponent down four times. Uzcategui was undefeated in his first 22 pro fights and enters this bout on a four-fight win streak.
A Cuban amateur national champion, 30-year-old Barthelemy has yet to taste defeat since turning pro in 2009. Born in Cuba but now fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev. he won a super featherweight world title in July 2014 by defeating Argenis Mendez in impressive fashion, and followed that up with a second round TKO victory over Angino Perez. After dominating former champion Antonio DeMarco in June, he won a world title in a second division when he impressively defeated Denis Shafikov in December. Most recently, Barthelemy made the lone defense of his lightweight belt with a decision over former champion Mickey Bey last June.
Fighting out of Minsk, Belarus, Relikh returns to the ring after challenging the former champion Burns for the WBA title in October 2016. The 27-year-old was undefeated after turning pro in 2011 leading up to his world title shot. Relikh owns wins over veteran contenders Christian Ariel Lope, Joaquim Carneiro and Lazaro Santos de Jesus.